SHOES: The things you put on your feet after your socks

SHOES: The things you put on your feet after your socks
What would happen if a bumble bee, super car, and running cleat had a baby with a dramatic photoshoot jazz hands

Running is arguably one of the most budget-friendly sports. Unlike tennis, where you need to invest in rackets, balls, memberships, and shoes, running primarily requires just shoes and adequate clothing.

By the end of this article, you'll have a solid understanding of running shoes, enabling you to confidently walk into any running store and discern which shoes are best suited for you.

When shopping for running shoes, two of the most important things to consider are whether the shoes fit well and if they are designed for your running goals.

Like a shiny new watch or car, you might be tempted to go for the bright red Ferrari of shoes - a top-of-the-line, carbon-plated, neon supercar that promises to propel you through your run. You might even think that wearing these high-end shoes for training will make you work harder and, therefore, run better.

However, the truth is that wearing racing shoes for training will get you hurt. For this reason, I urge you to steer clear of the shoes you see advertised everywhere. Yes, they seem like a good idea, until they’re not. I’m not suggesting you continue wearing your five-year-old shoes with holes. Instead, if you’re getting back into running and haven’t been active for a while, here’s what I recommend: pick simple, mid-priced training runners. These shoes usually range between 100 and 200 dollars and have a neutral design.

When you go to pick your shoes, brace yourself for a flood full of options. The salesperson might throw around jargon about how one shoe can help with foot inversion or eversion, or how increased supination could be beneficial for someone with your foot type.

I’ve always been skeptical about this because it seems that by trying to accommodate your future injury, you might end up with a bigger problem.

Here’s an analogy: if the left side of your foot is weak, causing your foot to turn out, would you rather fix the problem by gently strengthening your left side, or would you artificially push it towards the right, making the left side work even less and creating a greater risk of injury?

Now, don’t get me wrong, if a podiatrist tells you that you need a specific kind of sole, please follow their advice. But also understand the reasoning behind the variety in shoes and their actual intentions – which is often just to sell more shoes by making you believe that “sophistication” justifies a higher price tag.

One of the most important things to pay attention to is the foam of your shoes.

That’s the biggest takeaway: check your foam.

Modern running shoes are designed to be bouncy, and the biggest risk and reward come from the quality of the foam. You’ll notice that shoes worn for a long time tend to compress the foam, essentially drying out the marshmallow.

A dry marshmallow is bad because it can make it easier to twist your ankle. The average running shoe lasts about 800-1000km (500 to 620 miles) so if your shoes are fresh and not racers don’t worry they’ll last.

Lastly, there’s a common conversation you’ll read about if you spend enough time online: zero-drop shoes and barefoot shoes.

The idea behind these is simple: traditional shoes don’t allow your feet to fully strengthen, which means more injuries.

The biggest benefit of zero-drop and barefoot shoes is that they can transform a flat foot into a beautiful arch by making your feet do the work they were meant for.

The thing that tends to scare many people away, and rightfully so, is that the average person who is not well-trained is more likely to injure themselves if they start doing the same exercises they’re used to.

If you’re thinking about getting barefoot shoes, that’s a great idea! But start by simply walking in them, then do 10% of your total weekly distance, and build up from there to reduce the likelihood of injury. Also, expect your calves and ankles to be extremely sore.

Cool, so hopefully this has been eye-opening and has given you a lot to consider. Here are the simple takeaways:

  • Wear shoes that feel good around your ankle and leave space for your toes to breathe.
  • If your shoes have little to no bounce left, chuck ‘em and replace them to prevent ankle injuries.
  • If you buy the serious carbon-plated shoes use them exclusively for races or race simulations because they stress your legs and can cause overuse injuries.

When it comes to ideal energy cost, once you change your running style or movement patterns you will at first experience a difficulty with keeping up, the energy spent will be high but once you adjust you will naturally find the speed that is most effective for you