Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Running shoes.....the ultimate question

Chosing a running shoe

It always comes down to a question of personal preference. Thats the decision I have come to, although there are some rules on chosing the right type of shoe and there are some pointers as to which shoe might work best for you. 

Always buy running shoes from a specialist store. They will be able to test your running style and point you in the direction of running shoes that will suit your style and type of running. They will be able to seperate if you "pronate", "overpronate" or "supinate". These different styles are defined as:

definition of pronation supination and neutral running styles
Pronation is normal, desired biomechanics of the foot. Pronation is the flattening of the arch when the foot strikes the ground. The foot will pronate to absorb shock when the heel hits the ground. Neutral motion and slight pronation are considered "normal" movements of the feet whilst walking and running. Most people tend to pronate slightly - you can tell this by looking at the back of an old pair of shoes. The outside of the heel will be slightly more worn down than the inside. Cushioned type running shoes would be better suited to this type of motion.
Supination, or underpronation, is the opposite of pronation but also a normal motion. A foot is in supination when the ankle appears to be tipped outside and the runner is standing on the outside border of the foot. Neutral type running shoes are more suited to this type of motion.
Overpronation can lead to injuries or other issues. Overponation happens when feet roll inward too much and cause the rest of the body to compensate. Runners who overpronate usually have a flat or weak arch that allows this motion to occur. Stability type shoes would be better for this type of motion.

General rules for buying shoes:
The shoe must fit and feel comfortable. There should be no "pinching" anywhere on the shoe, and you should be able to walk around the store without them feeling tight. If they feel in anyway; tight, rubbing, pinching, or just plain wrong, do not buy them. They should also feel "snug" and grasping the heel and trying to remove the shoe, with the laces fully tight, the shoe should not slip. The shoes should generally feel more "bouncy" and light compaired to your shoes you have just taken off, because they are new. 

Brands and types

There are hundreds of different brands of running trainers and hundreds of different types. Whether you are fell running, road running, jogging, running marathons, walking, off-road or on-road, running in competitions or running for pleasure, you will always find a specific shoe that fits your purpose. Added to this the different styles of running, pronation supination or neutral running, and you can see where you could go wrong in chosing running shoes. I am going to list some common brands and a selection of what they offer. I also add my opinions (these are only MY opinions), on what good points and bad points these shoes have. Please remember that I normally pronate (not over pronate), so have only usually tried trainers that fit into this category.

Ascis - (neutral and normal pronation)
General notes on Asic shoes - Good allround running shoes. Perhaps the best shoes for different types of feet shapes across the whole spectrum. Always very comfortable, fit is slightly toward a wider fore foot.

 - around 65quid

I have to admit - my favourite running shoe of all time. Not only does the GT2100 feel comfortable, give enough support and cushioning for the average runner, but also costs a lot less than most other running shoes and last for ever.
  • Good points - feels great, lasts forever, cheap, good all-rounder
  • Bad points - can cause blisters on very high weekly mileage people

Cumulus 15 - around 100quid
The cumulus 15 are perhaps the Rolls Royce of running shoes, but still priced fairly reasonably. With the fit that I have come to expect of Asics they are comfortable and the extra cushioning is appreciated on longer runs, but they are slightly heavier. 
  • Good points - comfortable, hard wearing, great long distance running shoes
  • Bad points - price perhaps if money is tight.
Trail shoes

Fuji - around 60 quid
From my personal opinion, a great fitting off road shoe. Lacking slightly in the comfort and cushioning of its on road counterparts, mainly due to a reduction in the sole of the shoe to add more grip. Lasts very well and handles off road conditions acceptably.
  • Good points - cheap (ish), comfortable
  • Bad points - quite stiff.

Fairly new to the running shoe market is a brand called Inov8. These shoes have a similar fit to Asics, nice wide fore foot, but have a lot less cushioning (in general). These are designed for you off-road runners and fell runners, where its muddy (giving the cushioning the shoe no longer requires) and slippy (hence the massive grips). I absolutely love this brand of shoe. Does what it says on the tin, but also looks stylish whislt it does it.

Flyroc 310 (old style) - around 60 pounds
unfortunately the old colours and styles of the 310's are no longer around. These were my first try at the Inov8 name, and from them I was hooked. I ran the Round Rotherham 50 miler in these, without blisters and rubbing, and without wearing them in (luck I think played a part). The cushioning is, well, not there, which takes a bit of getting used to, but the grip in muddy conditions makes up for it.

  • Good points - style, comfort, weight and they last like nothing else
  • Bad points - lack of cushioning

Mudclaw (old style) - around 70 quid

My second pair of Inov8 shoes and something a little more serious. The grip on these shoes is like nothing else on the planet. Its so damn good that it actually takes a little getting used to, due to your mind thinking "I am going to slide", and you just dont. Stiffer and heavier than the Flyroc, these are fell shoes at their toughest. On the inside, still comfortable and didnt cause too many problems on long runs, although not quite as comfortable as the Flyroc, their softer brother.
  • Good points - indestructible, light, grippy as hell, stylish
  • Bad points - no cushioning, takes a bit of getting used to the grip

    Nike - (neutral and normal pronation)
    General points on Nike. Usually not used as running shoes anymore and considered more fashion items than actual running trainers. However, due to Nike's sporting history we have to include them here. I personally would never wear Nike trainers for anything more than going to the shops in. Fit is good, slightly narrower fore foot fittings than Asics, but tend to have a wider less pinching heel, perhaps due to the more "relaxed" nature of the shoes.

    Flyknit lunar 1 - around 100quid

     Very surprised when I tried these on. It seems a long time ago that Nike actually made a running shoe. These were light weight, comfortable, look good and flexed in the right areas.
    • Good points - Lightweght, flexible, look good and comfortable.
    • Bad points. feel really cheaply made for a very expensive shoe. I dont expect them to last long.

    Air Max 2013 - around 120 quid
    Normal for the masses, supposedly Nike's cushioned running shoe, but realistically more likely to be seen hanging around outside Spar shops on teenagers than on the start lines of marathons.
    • Bad points - The air channel will eventually burst, leaving you running on a really uncomfortable pair of flip flops. Dont use if considering these for multi-day adventures. Very heavy. Fashion trainers - do not consider these for running in.
    • Good points - you will look really trendy when all the other runners pass you. Quite comfortable for pottering around the shops in.

    Glycerin 11 around 90 quid
    A great shoe, slightly heavier than normal but unsurpassed comfort. Good for running in dry conditions. I had no problems with hot spots or blisters in many many miles with these shoes.
    • Good points - amazingly comfortable on long runs
    • Bad points - quite expensive, a little heavier. wears quite quickly.
    Ghost 6 - around 70quid
    A real legend of a running shoe. These are comparable to the "old style" brooks running shoes. Hard wearing, no nonsense shoes, which still look good after a hard run in the rain. Less comfortable than the more expensive glycerine shoes after a lot of miles... 

    • Good points - around average price, wear well, comfortable and no nonsense
    • Bad points - no style wins.(which isnt really a bad point in my eyes)

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