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 Running Shoes Demystified
Submitted by Rickshaw :: Tue Dec 28, 2004 9:14 am
With the huge selection of running shoes available today, even experienced runners can get confused and overwhelmed. Shoe ads throw about terms like motion control, stability, gel, air, pronation, insole, outsole, midsole, medial post... you practically need to bring a dictionary with you to the store. Fortunately Time-to-Run and Road Runner Sports have some good introductions to the basics of shoe selection that should take some of the mystery out of your next shoe purchase.

At their most basic level, shoes vary in mainly in shape and weight.

Shape: Getting a shoe that's the right shape for your foot is essential. The three types of foot shape are:

normal foot, medium arch: The foot rolls slightly to the inside with each step. This is a normal process called pronation, and helps to absorb some of the shock of impact. Shoes designed for runners with normal feet are called stability shoes.

flat foot, low arch: The foot overpronates, rolling excessively to the inside with each step. Over time this can lead to a variety of injuries. Motion control shoes are designed to resist the inward roll of the foot and avoid excessive pronation.

high-arched foot: The foot rolls to the outside with each step, a process called supination. A supinating foot does not absorb impact shock well, and can also lead to injuries. Cushioned shoes help absorb the impact shock that the foot can't.

You can tell what kind of foot you have by stepping on a towel with wet feet, and observing the shape of the footprint. A normal foot will show a moderately flared band connecting the forefoot and heel, a flat foot will shoe a wide band, and a high-arched foot will shoe a very narrow band.

Weight: Everything else being equal, you'd like your shoes to be as light as possible. More weight on your feet will slow you down. It's been estimated that every ounce of weight that's cut from your shoes will increase your pace by two seconds per mile.

Why then don't manufacturers make shoes as light as possible? The reason is that most runners need some amount of cushioning to protect their feet from injury. The heaviest and most cushioned shoes are generally called trainers, or sometimes have no special name. Just to confuse things, some manufacturers like Asics sell midweight shoes called trainers, which are a compromise between cushioning and weight. The lightest weight shoes are called racing flats, and are typically used only by the fastest runners for whom every second counts.

Size: Most people need to buy running shoes that are a half to a full size larger than their everyday shoes. This is because feet swell during exercise, and running shoes aren't designed to stretch. To help prevent blisters and lost toenails, make sure your toes have plenty of wiggle room. Check out extra width sizes too. When in doubt, size up.



mfox

South Orange, New Jersey
Joined: 19 Dec 2004
Posts: 367

Re: Running Shoes Demystified Posted: Tue Dec 28, 2004 10:05 pm 

This article if off to a good start, but how about truly demystifying shoes and explain the difference between insole, outsole, midsole, and the other parts of the shoe.

In fact, you might want to consider creating a separate area on this site for Tips (or what ever term seems to best fit) where this sort of information is readily available for runners to refer back to. In fact, this information along with similar information (i.e. glossary of terms, tips, advice) about Heart Rate Monitors, GPS watches, running at night, running intervals, racing your first marathon, etc. could be valuable resource material. A sort of library of information on specific topics that could be presented in a brief and consice way. It could be user submitted, moderated, compiled...whatever way would make it most usefull. I think we all might be able to offer a few tips and advice on many running related topics.


runnerswife


Joined: 08 Dec 2004
Posts: 33

Re: Running Shoes Demystified Posted: Tue Dec 28, 2004 10:22 pm 

mfox wrote:

In fact, you might want to consider creating a separate area on this site for Tips (or what ever term seems to best fit) where this sort of information is readily available for runners to refer back to...


A sort of runner's wikipedia? Sounds really useful.


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