Friday, June 7, 2013

Running Shoes: Myths Debunked! PART 2

Myth #7: But I’m just a beginner. I don’t need all the fancy bells and whistles on the expensive shoes, do I?
BUSTED: I don't know about bells and whistles but it is imperative that beginners get the best shoes they can for themselves. Unfortunately, that's rarely the economic option. A beginner usually needs the best cushioning and support that he/she can find. It’s far more important for a beginner to spend a little more and get the best shoe, as opposed to someone who’s been running several years and already knows what works best. Their feet will have adapted and be that much stronger and be used to being used for strenuous amounts of time. 

Myth #8: Cushioning is the most important factor for me. I’m a big runner and need as much cushioning as I can get. When I try a new pair on, I like that soft, cushy feel I get walking around in the store.
BUSTED: Almost all standard running shoes these days have adequate amounts of cushioning but some shoes/brands may have a softer level of cushioning or even a greater amount of cushioning. Yet that doesn't mean that a shoe has better quality or even a greater amount of cushioning. It simply means that it has a softer grade cushioning material (foam) which may feel amazing when you're simply walking around in the store. But just a light walk from one end to the store to another is not an adequate way to truly test a shoe's cushioning level. Researchers have long ago concluded that a running shoe with softer cushioning (rather than firmer) increases impact forces. There’s no evidence that a softer cushioned shoe is better for you than a shoe with greater firmness. In addition, running shoes that are too soft bottom out on road surface, don’t support the foot well (the foot sinks into the midsole) and the cushioning wears out quicker.

Myth # 9: It takes me two or three weeks to break in a new pair of shoes. It’s frustrating that it takes so long.
BUSTED: It's quite understandable that you'd be frustrated. But the reality is that today's running shoes are good to go right out of the box. The idea that you had to break in a pair of runners is something of a by-gone era (the 70s and 80s) when many running shoes had a board in the rearfoot, ere very stiff and necessitated several short break-in runs. It’s simply not necessary today. The only exception is before an important race (especially a marathon) a few shakedown runs are important.

Myth #10: I’m a woman who is tired of buying women’s shoes. It bothers me that women’s running shoes are technically inferior to men’s and just more colorful versions designed to pander to women.
BUSTED: That simply is not true. It used to be true when women made up a fraction of the running population and women’s running shoes were a little narrower, but today’s women (who make up more than half of all runners) demand just as good a shoe as men. Women are more sensitive to fit than men and absolutely won’t settle for a running shoe that doesn’t fit properly. Many shoe brands design their ladies shoes with lady-specific lasts, and softer/lighter material for the upper meshing of the shoe.

Myth #11: I like to rotate between two pair of the same model shoe. That way I can extend the life of the shoe.
BUSTED:  There’s certainly nothing wrong with using two different pair of training shoes, but it won’t extend the life of a shoe. Shoes have a limited life span of a certain number of miles (which differs for everyone) and rotating between two pairs won’t help the shoes last longer. Shoes don’t need a day or two of rest like you and I do. Generally, a running shoe’s midsole (the cushioning element) needs just a couple of hours of “rest” to rebound from the day’s run, rather than 24 or 48 hours to recover. Doing so, won’t hurt the shoe but it won’t extend its durability.

Myth #12: Minimalist running shoes are the best way to improve running form.
BUSTED: There isn’t anything magical about minimalist or zero drop shoes. Yes, minimal running shoes—i.e., shoes with minimal cushioning and lowered (or zero) heel heights—might help you change your stride, but it is usually more of a result of making a conscious decision to change your running form and foot strike while running in this type of shoe. While it is true that because of the low heel heights and overall lightness of minimal shoes, runners do tend to strike the ground lighter and closer to the midfoot or forefoot with each stride. But, there is still an adaptation period as the typical runner has to biomechanically retrain. The shoe won’t do that; the runner must. Even so, many runners in minimalist shoes, continue to heel strike, just as some runners in conventional training shoes, use a mid or forefoot strike.

So there you have it, myths debunked. If you have questions that you want to ask please do so in the comments or if you want to chat further shoot me an e-mail! I'd love to hear from you.

And as always, check out Runner's Mark 

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