This is my 100th post. Shall we celebrate?
And another waypoint: I finally hit the 500 mile marker and my shoes were feeling it. I had noticed that I was feeling stones more through my toe area. But it was when I got on the treadmill that I knew. I do a mid-foot strike when I run, and immediately noticed the lack of padding.
Some sneakers last 150-300 miles, some 500ish. I really don’t know what category mine fell into. When I bought them last year, it wasn’t something I looked at. Last year I was looking at fit and price. The year before that I knew even less! Of course, as I learn more, the cost of the shoes goes up. But so does my running ability.
This year I expanded my research. First, am I showing my naivety by calling them sneakers? The technical term is, of course, running shoes. In actuality, my running shoes are my running shoes. I don’t do anything else in them, not even walk Daisy. The previous running shoes become the walking sneakers.
So the first thing I did was research. Mizuno, Hoka, New Balance. I am not a brand junkie. If it fits and works, I am happy. My last issue of Fitness had a wonderful article on running shoes. I have been running long enough now that I know what I need, but not always how to translate that to my shoes. So many dang terms! Zero drop, overpronation, stability, toe box, the list goes on. What does it all mean?
Zero drop means exactly what it says–no height difference between the heel and toe. Most sneakers have a 6mm to 8mm difference with the heel being higher. There has been quite a bit of discussion about whether a zero drop is important or not. It does make you run differently, more like running barefoot with different stressors on feet and leg muscles.
Proponents suggest zero-drop shoes are a safer and more practical way to emulate barefoot-style running. Still, medical experts and running form gurus recommend runners take time to transition to shoes with lower ramp angles than what they’ve been running in, and Harper and Beckstead agree. Even if you’ve been running and racing for years, if you don’t conscientiously work on form and strength along with minimalist running, you could wind up with sore calf muscles, strained Achilles tendons, aching feet or more serious injuries, Dicharry says. Other factors, including a runner’s weight, body composition, past injury patterns, level of fitness and running goals should be considered before making a drastic change in footwear styles*
I did consider zero drop shoes. However, I have high arches and, frankly, running barefoot is not very comfortable for me. I know a lot of runners do run races barefoot and do very well. But they have been running that way for years. I think at this point in my life, barefoot would be hard for me to get used too. No zero drop for me.
Pronation, under or over, is running with your foot rolling towards the outside. This is where stability comes in.
[stability is important for] runners who experience mild to moderate overpronation. This means that they have moderately low arches. Overpronation can cause a lot of strain on the feet since the impact is distributed heavily across the area that pronates. When the foot pushes off from the surface, the ankle and lower leg all experience strain. This situation can even lead to various running injuries. **
Most running shoes are considered either neutral or stable. While individual brands rate their shoes somewhat differently, there are some correlations across the board. The neutral shoes add no additional stability, allowing the foot to fall into its natural placement. There may be a couple of levels of neutral shoes within a brand. Then they move up to the stability shoes, which have several different stability features built into the shoe to prevent overpronation. Generally speaking, there are several different levels of stability features within brands as well.
When you think about a running shoe, think about how you feel on a long run–whatever that may be for you. I have wide feet with moderately high arches. If the toe box is too narrow, my toes tend to fall asleep around mile 4. Because of my mid-foot strike when running, metatarsal cushioning is more important (and harder to find) than heel cushioning to me.
The next step is to find a store with knowledgable staff. I am going to give props here to Dick’s Sporting Goods. I went to my local store; more just to look, having been advised to try a store in Brunswick but not having time to get there yet. When I got to Dick’s I had the good fortune to find a salesperson who knew his running shoes inside and out. I told him what my running needs were and he helped me try on a dozen shoes (like jeans, be prepared to try on many pairs).
It came down to two pairs of Brooks. Dick’s has an excellent return policy: 30 days to return, even if you ran in them every day before deciding they didn’t work. So I took one of them home. They were a narrow fit, but they were comfortable. Until my feet swelled the next day when I was running on the treadmill. Back I went and picked up the other pair. They are light and lovely to run in. My toes feel much better after mile 4 🙂 So what did I end up with? Brooks Glycerin 12, neutral. And I am ready for the next 500 miles.