alsoran runners Good shoes

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Good shoes can save you lots (financially and physically) in the long run (pun intended).  I am by no means a shoe expert but I have learned several things about running shoes over the years and I’ll try and cover these here.  When people hear that I’m a runner, the first thing they seem to be concerned about are my knees.  I let them know that my knees are absolutely fine because I wear good shoes and more so, the CORRECT shoes! 

Let me first explain how I got to be wearing the correct running shoe.  In the early days of my running I used to have recurring ankle injuries.  My physio referred me to the “Shoe Clinic” at the Sports Science Institute.  This was a while ago – I think it cost me in the region of R50 for the assessment.  At the shoe clinic they analyzed my running style, measured my muscles and flexibility and a whole lot of other “technical” tests.  At the end of all that, they had a “score” for my feet and from that they made a recommendation of 3 specific shoes.  I was told to try them all and pick the one I found most comfortable.  All three could do the job.  Well it was the best R50 I ever spent on anything to do with running.  I haven’t looked back since!  The thing is, the shoes I had been wearing were OK and pretty close to what I needed, but just not good enough for my biomechanics, and that was causing the ankle injuries.  I haven’t had an ankle injury since. 

Good shoes offer great support and this is usually what saves you from spraining an ankle when you are unlucky enough to “go over” on your foot. 

So first things first, make sure you buy the correct shoes.  The question is how do you know that you are buying the correct shoes?  Let’s say you are unable to have a professional assessment for your running style.  Make sure you buy your shoes from a reputable sports store.  Make sure that the salesperson is an informed person when it comes to running shoes, not just a sales clerk trying to make a sale.  Don’t buy shoes just because they are on special.  When trying on running shoes, make sure that there is at least a thumb’s space between your big toe and the tip of the shoe.  It is advisable to buy shoes at least one size bigger than your normal casual shoes.  Trust me, your toes need that space for running uphills and downhills.

There are two truths about running shoes.  They are expensive and they don’t last long.  Sad but true!  Now I don’t mean they don’t last long because they are poorly made or plain rubbish.  They don’t last long because as runners, especially long distance runners, we tend to wear them out!  1000km on a pair of shoes is about it for me.  After that I find them ok for doing the short stuff but definitely no good for long distance.  After that, my daughter usually hijacks them.  Some runners get even less on a pair of shoes, around 800km being max.  The late Dr Lindsay Weight used to run her shoes into the ground, getting about 2000km from a pair of shoes.  I usually make a note in my log book when I get new shoes.  This way I can work out just how much mileage I have on my shoes.

What to do if you haven’t kept a check on you shoe mileage?  How do you know when your shoes are shot?  Well for me I know my shoes have seen better days when I start feeling small stones etc. when I run over them.  I usually start noticing new “foot pain” that is occurring for no reason.

If you can afford to, buy 2 pairs of the same running shoe and rotate the usage of them.  I’ve done this before and it works pretty well, just harder to keep track of mileage per shoe.

In terms of caring for running shoes, keep them well ventilated!  There’s nothing like unzipping a tog bag containing damp running shoes.  It is said that washing your running shoes in the washing machine is a no-no, that they will get damaged and that the glue and the stitching can come loose, and your shoe’s life will be shortened.  Well I don’t subscribe to that belief.  I believe that shoes get damaged through plain wear and tear.  Let’s face it, our shoes only last about 6 months anyway, because that is usually when they have reached their mileage quota.  I guarantee you, you will wear your shoes out before they start falling apart!

What about wearing a pair of new shoes for a race?  Well it is a definite no-no if they are a new brand of shoe, or a new style.  If this is the case you should “run them in” beforehand, I would advise at least 50km in total.  I have had no problems running in brand new shoes that are the same make and style as my old ones.  In fact I ran a 100-miler in brand new shoes (they weren’t new by the time I finished!)
Whatever your brand of shoe, make sure you get out on the road and use them.

Kiss my Asics!

Click here to read an article, "Comrades: you and your Shoes" by Chris Delpierre, Podiatrist at the Sport Science Institute of South Africa

Key words: good running shoes, shoe clinic, running, ankle injuries, mileage
Internal links: Dr Lindsay Weight, physio,
External links: Official Comrades Marathon website, Sports Science Institute of South Africa

Copyright Nikki Campbell 2008