As the Holidays approach, this is a great time to think about getting fit. Those parties and food will be here before you know it and if you set healthy behaviors with yourself now, you can get through the Holidays enjoying the fun without losing all self-control and overeating. The most important purchase you can make to start that motivation is one that is for you! Do it now, before you talk yourself out of it in your holiday budget. Go get yourself THOSE shoes! Buy the shoes that you want to be in and that will be just right and maximize your exercise potential. Here are some shoe-buying tips from CoachUp.
Walking into a running shoe store can be daunting, but knowing the common
terminology and the concepts behind them is the first step to feeling empowered. These
commonly discussed running shoe terms will get you off on the right foot and will be a
good starting point for you to begin more in-depth research on finding the perfect running
Know Your Lingo
This term refers to the difference in millimeters between the heel and the forefoot. The
industry standard is 12 millimeters. However, with the “minimal” and “barefoot” trend
pervading the industry, many shoe companies have included lower heel-to-toe-ratio models in their lines.
refers to what it feels like to run in a shoe. A “plush ride” means the shoe is
designed to feel super soft while running. A responsive ride means the shoe is designed to
feel like it responds to the ground, giving energy back, instead of feeling dead under your foot.
Minimal is a trend that simply refers to less. Some companies address this by providing a
more traditional amount of foam under your foot, with a low heel to toe (like the Saucony
Cortana). Other companies go with less foam and low drop (such as many Altra models
or the Brooks Pure Project). Regardless of approach, the minimal trend means different
companies are approaching the “more with less” from different angles.
“Medial” vs. “Lateral”
These two terms are taken from the world of anatomy and refer to what side of the body
something is on. The Medial side is the inside of the body, and the Lateral side is the
outside of the body. These terms are applied to running shoes to provide reference where
technology is inserted or how the shoe is constructed.
“Stability” vs. “Neutral”
Stability models are designed to help prevent over-pronation, which occurs when the foot
rolls inward during the transition from heel to toe. Pronation itself is a normal occurrence,
but over-pronation happens when the foot pronates too much and too quickly, placing
extra stress on the lower leg and foot muscles. Most shoe companies have at least one
model that addresses this by placing denser (think less soft) foam along the medial side
of the shoe, called a post. The more stable the shoe is designed to be, the longer the post.
The idea is that the harder surface of the denser foam will slow the acceleration of the
inward rolling. Typically, the higher the price point the more stability is involved. But
that doesn’t mean the highest priced shoe is the best shoe. Each runner has different
needs. One runner might only need a light stability shoe with only a little post, while
another may need a large post.
Neutral shoes, on the other hand, will not have this dense foam on the medial side. Their
focus will instead be on providing cushioning and comfort. Generally, the higher the
price point means more cushioning and a more “plush” feel. Sometimes, companies will
incorporate two different types of foam in an effort to provide a softer landing, or create a
softer ride. The term “neutral” refers to the lack of a post or stability feature.
“Performance” and “Lightweight”
Many companies are offering models described as “lightweight performance” or
“lightweight trainers”. These shoes are designed to give runners another option for
training. Performance oriented runners will be doing at least one (if not more) hard
workouts per week, including tempo runs, hill repeats, fartleks, or progression runs (just
to name a few). Lightweight trainers are meant to be an option for these faster runs. They
are usually lighter and sleeker than their “daily trainer” counterparts, and typically have
a lower drop. This makes it easier for runners to get up on their toes to go faster, and
prevents the heavy or “klutzy” feeling that can sometimes accompany trying to run faster
in a more robust training shoe. These shoes also work well as racing shoes for longer
distances like the half marathon and marathon.
Know Your Limits
Running shoe foam doesn’t keep its elasticity forever. After a while it gets compressed,
and those places where your foot might hit the outer edge a little hard, or toe off a little
on the inside, will only continue to be more ingrained in the foam the more miles it goes
through. It’s best to switch out your shoes after 300 miles or so.
High mileage runners may want to consider having multiple pairs of shoes that they
rotate through. And many runners like mixing up weight and drops, using a more
traditional neutral or stability model for slower, recovery days when the body is tired, and
a lower drop, lightweight model on their hard days when they’re ready to run fast.
There are a lot of different opinions when it comes to running shoes, but nothing beats
your own experience. Just because the minimal trend is alive and well doesn’t mean it’s
the best option for your situation. Like all things, each individual will react and respond
to stimulus differently. Your training regimen, mileage level, intensity level, along with
your own anatomy, strength, and foot structure will all play a part in determining what
shoe will work best for you. Go for quality and don’t pay attention to fads. Find a shoe
that works for you and stick with it.
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