Monday, October 13, 2014

What's In A Shoe?

A shoe can break or make a runner.  I found it out the hard way 24 years ago while training for a particularly hilly marathon.  I developed a nasty case of achilles tendonitis.  I tried a cortisone shot and within two weeks the searing pain was back.  It was then that I figured out the new Nike Skylon's were the cause.

I had run in Nike's, mainly the Pegasus, for the better part of the 1980's.  Nike really started tinkering with their shoes at the start of the 90's and quite honestly, many of their trainers are not very good anymore.  That injury sent me to the Asics GT 2000 series and that was my go to shoe for the better part of the next decade.

When I moved to Fort Myers in 2003, I immediately saw a return of plantar fasciatas which had bothered me about six years before when I was still running 50 plus miles a week.  That's when I found Mike Pemberton and thus a shoe love affair was born.  Mike put me in Mizuno's and boom, the plantar disappeared just like that.

That started a running conversation (excuse the pun) with Mike about running shoes and what different shoes do, both good and bad.  It took Mike more than three years to get me to run in Newtons.  That was a real change for this avowed hell striker.  But that move led me back to lighter trainers and an ongoing affinity for the Saucony Kinvara.

But enough about me, I want to write about what Mike and I see on a weekly basis from runner's, both experienced and inexperienced.  They walk into the store with a beloved shoe that look like it's been beaten to death, the runner  oftencomplaining about injuries.  Most of the time the problem is they have run in the same shoe for a year or even longer.  If you're running in the same shoe three to four times a week, you're going to get six months out of them at best.

The other mistake is the everyday runner, using the same shoe day in and day out.  They come in two or three months later wondering what's wrong with the shoe.  What they don't understand is they've put six plus months use of shoes into one pair.

Shoes need time to recover.  The EVA that the shoes are built on compress and a 24 hour break allows that EVA to return to its original shape.  The other thing about EVA is that it deteroiates over time.  It has about a one year life span and then it begins to lose all of its cushioning properties.  That's why it's a bad idea to hit the cut out tables at the big box stores because shoes many times are DOA.

What I'm getting to is that if you are running five times a week or more, you really need to run in two pairs of shoes.  I've been doing it since the late 70's.  I usually rotate between three shoes, the Kinvara, my Newton Kismets and the HOKA Clifton as a recovery shoe.  That's not unusual for a dedicated runner.  I know some runners that use three to four shoes, not to mention their racing flats.

The point is, different shoes do different things.  They work different muscle groups.  In fact, as I prepare to start increasing my long runs I'm going to have to think about investigating into a heavier training shoe that can withstand a 10 mile plus run. 

The shoes are an investment in myself.  Two pairs of running shoes will help stretch the life of both pair.  In the long run (excuse the pun), you'll get more miles for your buck if you double down on your purchases.

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