Monday, 7 November 2005

If the shoe fits

On Thursday evening last week I went to a talk on running shoes presented by Norrie Williamson. This was good timing, especially following recent postings on the AR mailing list about suitable AR shoes.

My philospohy about shoe purchasing is a simple one: Go to a store that stocks a good range. Pull out everything they've got in your size. Try them all on and purchase the shoe that fits the best. Do not buy anything that "may be ok once I've worn them in a bit". And remember that even though I rave about my Salomon GCS Pro's and my Adidas TR Response shoes (and your buddy raves about his/her shoes), it doesn't mean they're going to be right for you. And, not all models within a brand will suit your feet.

As a result of Norrie's presentation, I'm trying out a new lacing system, which is more open and puts less pressure on the top of my foot (see diagram). I'm also going to 'alter' my old running shoes, which are straight lasted, so that they allow more mid-foot flexibility and side-to-side torsion - like a curve lasted shoe.

The lacing change is an easy one to make and I will admit to being chicken about making any major changes to a set-up that already works for me, especially as I don't have trouble with my feet or joints. But, this time I am keen to experiment because even though I'm not having any problems, these changes may further improve my running (on and off-road) and be better for my feet and joints long-term. And, if I don't give it a bash, I'll never know eh?

Shoes are made for a wide-spread, generalised group yet we're individual with different feet, running styles, biomechanics and preferences. There are many modifications (minor and major) that you can make to transform your shoes from decent to perfect. Don't be afraid to do so.

In his book, "Everyone's guide to distance running", Norrie has written a section on shoes: what to look for, what things like Air, Gel, Torsion and other technological features are about and he has a really good "shoe questionaire", that you can complete and take with you to a shoe store to assist in refining your purchase. On- and off-road, the principles are the same. Bear in mind that you won't get any decent advice from bulk/general sports stores. A specialist running store would be your best bet... The only problem with this equation is that educated specialist stores seldom stock a good range of off-road shoes.

My feet are my life and accordingly shoes are my most important equiment items. This probably applies to you too. Ask your friends what they like about different shoes, consider your options and try on everything. Techno jargon aside, if the shoe fits, wear it.

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