BUYING THE RIGHT RUNNING SHOES
Walk into any athletic footwear store to buy a pair of running shoes and inevitably you’ll be asked about your foot type: “Is it flexible or rigid? Do you supinate or pronate? Do you have flat feet or are your arches high?” You didn’t realize that buying a pair of running shoes was so confusing! Relax, and take a deep aerobic breath. There’s a shoe for every type of foot, including your own, and figuring out which foot type you have is the first step in finding the right running shoe.
The runner’s foot type is governed by two basic variables: the arch height (high, medium, or flat) and the degree of mobility of the foot (i.e. over-pronation).
What type of arch do I have?
The simplest test to determine your arch-type is to do the wet-foot test. Place a piece of paper on the floor, wet your foot, and stand flat on the paper leaving a wet, visible footprint on the paper. If you have a flat arch, you will see the full contour of your foot on the paper. High arched people will leave mostly a heel and forefoot print. Medium or average arched feet will leave a print that connects the heel and forefoot on the outside edge of the footprint.
If you’re still not sure, trace around your wet footprint and bring it along when visiting your local specialty run shop. Any professional at your run shop can aid in identifying foot type.
Do I over-pronate?
This is probably the most difficult determination for a runner to make. Over-pronation is the rolling inward motion of the heel that occurs naturally after heel-strike. While most people think they are neutral, the majority of runners do over-pronate to some degree. If you have a well-used pair of running shoes, look at the outsole. Is the outside edge of the heel significantly worn? If so, chances are you over-pronate.
Tips to help you find the best running shoe for your foot type:
- Buy a shoe specific to running
- Visit a specialty running store. Technical running stores are staffed by people who are runners themselves. They are the best resource to help you identify your needs.
- Bring your socks and shoes you currently use for running to the store. If you wear orthotics, bring them along as well.
- Have both feet measured for length and width. Your feet spread and lengthen through both running and aging, and you may be surprised that a running shoe needs to be a half or full size larger than what you normally wear.
Your primary need is for a pair of shoes that fit well and feel comfortable. Fit and feel are certainly an individual decision, but look for running shoes that fit snugly with a little extra room between the longest toe and the end of the shoe. Your toes should not feel cramped or squished. Your heel should not slip when walking or running.
INVEST IN GOOD RUNNING SOCKS
You are probably already considering going to the running store to pick up some new shoes. Once you’ve found a good pair of running shoes, you should also consider new socks. Blisters are caused by repeated friction between foot, sock and shoe. A good pair of socks will go a long way toward relieving blisters.
To help you in the sock selection process it is important to understand the material of which they are made.
Throw out your cotton socks
According to a study by the University of Missouri-Columbia, cotton socks are largely to blame for blisters. Cotton socks retain moisture, which in turn softens feet. As a result, feet become more susceptible to friction and the blisters that follow. The key to avoiding blisters is keeping your feet dry as dry as possible. While cotton socks typically provide more cushioning than socks made from synthetic blends, the advantage of blister-free running far outweighs the insignificant loss of fabric.
Invest in synthetic socks
Synthetic blends such as those found in technical running socks, are typically constructed from nylon and spandex. Some brands, such as WrightSock also incorporate Coolmax into their product. Coolmax aids in blister prevention by wicking moisture away from the foot, keeping it dry and less likely to chafe. Many name brands, use specific anti-blister technology in their socks. This technology involves two layers of fabric around the exterior of the sock. These layers interact to absorb the friction which otherwise would be inflicted upon the user. One drawback to synthetic blends is that bacteria can accumulate within the fibers, causing odor.
Another option: wool
Another option is wool socks produced by such companies as Smartwool and Darn Tough (which also produces socks made from Coolmax). Wool socks allow for moisture wicking, like Coolmax, and temperature regulation due to their unique construction. Unlike synthetic blends, wool socks are resistant to bacteria, meaning less odors. Wool socks create an air buffer between user and shoes, which helps keep feet dry and comfortable. The goal is to avoid moisture and reduce friction. Socks that meet that criteria are invaluable. Specialty socks, like good running shoes, are a little more costly, but if your feet are comfortable from the start of your run to the finish, they are worth every penny.
Adapted from The Best Running Socks for Blisters
By Vincent Healy, eHow Contributor
WHAT TO WEAR?
The gear you wear will help make a big difference in your comfort and performance. Knowing what fabrics wick away moisture from your skin the best is important to picking the right clothes to run in.
Click Here to read to the feature and fabrics of today’s high-tech running wardrobe by Cool Running.
Physical exercise of relatively low intensity and long duration, which depends primarily on the aerobic energy system. Aerobic means “with oxygen”, and refers to the use of oxygen in the body’s metabolic or energy-generating process. Many types of exercise are aerobic, and by definition are performed at moderate levels of intensity for extended periods of time.
Exercise intense enough to trigger anaerobic metabolism. It is used by athletes in non – endurance sports to promote strength, speed and power and by body builders to build muscle mass. Muscles trained using anaerobic exercise develop differently compared to aerobic exercise, leading to greater performance in short duration, high intensity activities, which last from mere seconds up to about 2 minutes.
A moderate level of activity noticeably increases your heart rate and breathing rate. You may sweat, but you are still able to carry on a conversation. You can talk, but you can’t sing.
GOAL MARATHON RACE PACE, GMRP
This is the pace per mile you plan to run during the marathon (e.g. 9 min/mile is about a 4 hour marathon). You’re working harder, but you can still take a sip from your water bottle and utter a full sentence without gasping.
ANAEROBIC THRESHOLD, AT
You’re breathing hard and getting close to your maximum limit; you can only say a few words.
“Speed play” in Swedish, is a form of interval training which puts stress on the whole aerobic energy system due to the continuous nature of the exercise. The difference between this type of training and continuous training is that the intensity or speed of the exercise varies, meaning that aerobic and anaerobic systems can be put under stress. It differs from traditional interval training in that it is unstructured; intensity and/or speed can be varied whenever the athlete wishes. Most fartlek sessions last a minimum of 45 minutes and can vary from aerobic walking to anaerobic sprinting. Fartlek training is generally associated with running, but can include almost any kind of exercise.
CROSS TRAINING (X-TRAINING)
Cross-training refers to an athlete training in sports other than the one that athlete competes in with a goal of improving overall performance. It takes advantage of the particular effectiveness of each training method, while at the same time attempting to neglect the shortcomings of that method by combining it with other methods that address its weaknesses. In normal speak, cross training provides a fresh new exercise that allows your mind to explore a new and different routine, and works your muscles in a different fashion. This change makes your mind and body stronger. Instead of running, you bicycle, hill climb, swim, etc. The change can be quite beneficial.
Slow running or jogging done after a workout or competition to loosen muscles and rid the body of lactic acid.
Training in which short, fast “repeats” or “repetitions” often 200 to 800 meters, are alternated with slow “intervals” of jogging for recovery; usually based on a rigid format such as “six times 400 meters fast [these are the repeats] with 400-meter recovery jogs [the intervals],” interval training builds speed and endurance.
LSD is an abbreviation for “Long, Slow Distance,” which refers to the practice of running longer distances at an “easy” pace rather than shorter ones to exhaustion. The slower pace allows the runner to go longer and, therefore (supposedly), gain more fitness.
The excessive inward roll of the foot before toe-off. Overpronation is believed to be the cause of many running injuries.
Underpronation is less common than overpronation. The shoes of underpronators show outsole wear on the lateral (outer) side not just at the heel but all the way up to the forefoot. Typically, underpronators tend to break down the heel counters of their shoes on the lateral side.
The opposite of pronation. It’s an outward rolling of the forefoot that naturally occurs during the stride cycle at toe-off. Oversupination occurs when the foot remains on its outside edge after heel strike instead of pronating. A true oversupinating foot underpronates or does not pronate at all, so it doesn’t absorb shock well. It is a rare condition occurring in less than 1 percent of the running population.