This is probably the strongest running conversation globally. The question has grown into 13,910 million USD in 2020 is expected to reach 18,240 million USD by the end of 2026. Study. What makes a good shoe? What shoe is right for us? Is there a better brand of shoe and should I avoid any?
Important questions to ask and almost every person will give you a different answer. We will attempt to navigate the discussion and paint it in a new light. Hopefully, you will leave this article understanding how to select, why select it and what shoe type is right for you. It will ultimately come down to a lot of trial and error. So let’s get started!
Injury rates are extremely high but there are multiple explanations for that and shoes are not 100% to blame. Sedentary lifestyle, poor training management, incorrect technique, overused bodies that are also under-loved (poor recovery). When you combine all of these factors and wear the wrong shoe it creates a perfect storm for poor lower limb mechanics.
How to weather the storm?!
Step 1 – Knowledge
Knowing more and acting upon that knowledge is crucial when learning and changing your ways. This article will provide you with a framework to understand the how, the why and the when to buy shoes. What is important for your body and at what time.
“Rather than have the runners adapt to the running, they took the shoe and adapted it to the runner.” — Irene Davis
Here is a fascinating podcast with Irene Davis. Please add this to your knowledge toolkit.
Step 2 – Analysis
When you are on your own and new to running, analysis can be really tricky. We highly recommend you use a professional for this. Alternatively, you could visit an accredited running coach (please avoid personal trainers, not all but most have no idea what to look for) or podiatrist/physiotherapist/osteopath. This framework of allied health professionals will be best suited to this type of analysis. Please note that just because someone has a degree doesn’t mean they understand the correct running form. Be savvy with who you use, how you use their services and please research and ask a lot of questions.
Step 3 – Plan
Planning sounds like a ridiculous step. On the surface, what is there to plan about shoes! I get it. Once you have the knowledge to understand the shoe you are looking for, you need to plan to get there. For instance, I wanted to run with a zero drop shoe. That means having no height difference between my heel and toe. I also want to go as minimal as possible. I had been running in large high cushioned shoes for the last 4-5 years. I made a plan to move some of my sessions towards a barefoot-style shoe, walking more barefoot and get a high cushioned zero drop shoe for my running sessions. I worked up (or I guess in this case down) to limit my risk of injury. I’m still adjusting and finding my feet. (pun intended). Going slow for sure but importantly I have remained injury free, feel more in control of my movement and feel more connected with what I am doing. To this point, my plan has taken 1.5 years of adjustment and I now believe I have completely moved away from the ‘modern shoe’. I still have work to do on my ankle flexibility and toe control but it is improving daily. I am no longer looking for the perfect shoe I am looking to give my perfect feet the chance to do the job they were beautifully designed for.
Stage 4 – Select
Once we have gone through this process we can look at our options. What does our anatomy tell us, what style and type of running will I be doing most and what type of shoe should I select. From that, we can choose a brand that we love that fits what we need or, you may even find a new diamond in the rough.
Remember this might be really hard to do and it may take time. Don’t fret, you are heading in the right direction. It’s a journey. Remember, my shoe journey isn’t complete either but I’m finding more and more about myself, my body and what suits me best. Set your goals or start to think about what is important for you and your feet. What is the plan forward and then work your way towards that?
This is a post our UK Head Coach Nathan Montague posted about his relationship with shoes. It is different to mine but the approach is the same. It is a personal journey and there is no ‘right way’. There is your way and we hope you can find your way with purpose and openness to explore all of the possibilities.
”Now I can say a lot of things about the last 10 days. But one bloody thing is my peds (shoes) did not let me down! Yes, my elephant feet! Why oh why? There should be a 100 reasons why these would be a problem, akin to my individually shaped, weighted and yes deformed on one, feet. But no. They didn’t let me down. Now, clobber is an individual thing. What works for you doesn’t mean it will work for someone else. All individuals and shoes and socks are soooooo unique in training for the sheer variations in biomechanics, shapes, weight and needs and more. 1006.9miles on a treadmill and my feet are genuinely in a better place than when I started! Or at least look that way, if you see my turnip sized ankles!!! Bloody @skechers_uk and @wigwamsocks sorted! Trail Trax socks and Gorun shoes. These babies are made for my elephant feet and form. And Bear in mind there were miles in them before I started (the socks …. 1000’s!). No, I’m not messaging out to say hey everyone, go get these great treads and socks. For this, for that. Why not? Because we are all unique and what is right for one person may be a slide to injury or blisters for another. But, I will say read, research, discover, talk, and get good advice and test. These could be your next saviours for your feet. Then again they might not. I will say, they are bloody insanely good for me. My feet were never never a problem in the 1006.9miles. Honestly, not one bit. Surprised? Yes! But then again the socks and other Skechers have not let me down in the deserts, mountains and roads. These are my babies and work for me. Find your babies and they’ll love you as much as you love them!”
Nathan recently completed 1006.9km’s on his treadmill for the Sydney to Melbourne Virtual event in the above shoes. He is a world-class Ultra-Endurance athlete and we love how he approaches the shoe debate.
Stage 5 – Form and Load
The best friend you will have as a runner is running form (technique) and managing running load. The technique is king and finding a shoe to work with your body is key. Not finding a shoe that will be the magic bullet.