Running shoes. There are more styles, colors and types than most people know what to do with. That doesn’t mean, however, they aren’t important. The things you put on your feet when you head out the door for a run is ta crucial factor. Shoes can make you faster, slow you down, protect your foot from debris and help stabilize an unsteady gait. Making you feel pretty or more fun is usually an added bonus. Here are a few kinds of footwear you might find while browsing and what each can do for you.
Training shoes. This is a comfortable everyday shoe with a reasonable drop and amount of cushioning. Covering 20 miles in these old friends should be no sweat. You’ll spend the most time with these trusty companions so learn to love them. There are tons of choices in this type of shoe so get fitted by a professional and make sure your feet are happy.
Racing Shoes. New or returning athletes won’t initially need a pair of race specific running shoes. This special pair of kicks is designed to help you go a bit faster on race day. With lighter materials and less cushion they’re daintier than your training shoes. The oftentimes lower drop in light shoes will make your entire leg stretch a little bit more with each step and the firmer build will make each muscle absorb a little more impact. Those factors put additional stress on your body making them less than ideal for lots of training miles.
Tempo Shoes. The above paragraph not withstanding, training in the shoe you’ll wear on race day is very important. You risk a serious injury if you only train in cushioned shoes then go out to race a marathon in a racing shoe. This lighter weight trainer is somewhere between your race shoe and training shoe, leaning towards the former.
A recovery shoe. This cushy, comfy shoe is for the easy days. Recovery running shoes are fluffy and have lots of padding. They have a big drop to give your muscles a break from all the stretching and contracting of a lower drop pair. While the shoe won’t provide any extra benefit like a massage or compression it will give your legs a breather.
A trail shoe (or something else). A special model designed for the roughness of unpaved, gravel and dirt surfaces not everyone needs a trail shoe. Typically heavier with a thicker sole running shoes dedicated to trails are a good tool if you’re heading off road. Additional options include spikes for cross country or track running, racing flats and any other special occasion footwear you can find.
A closet isn’t any good unless it’s filled. Filling one with running shoes is often inevitable for passionate runners. Luckily there’s more than not being able to find the floor to owning multiple pairs of shoes dedicated to running. Here are three of Team ECRP‘s top reasons to keep several worthy pairs at your disposal.
Different purposes. The biggest reason you’ll want to have more than one pair of running shoes is that they don’t all perform the same job. Some are built for racing on the track and others for the trail. There are light shoes for racing and cushy ones for recovery. Most runners train on a variety of surfaces and paces so it’s important to be prepared with the right gear for your workout. Have a pair of dedicated shoes for each environment you’ll be tackling.
Models Change. Constantly and not always for the better, in fact. With shoe companies competing and technology changing there is always something different on the market. Your current favorite shoe might not exist the next time you want t buy it and that can be disappointing. Yes, you can grab 20 pairs of what you like each time you hit the store but they’ll wear out too. Owning a variety of brands and models can protect you from that disappointment.
They age. Just like everything else shoes get old and wear out. Soles wear down and stop providing traction while insoles break down and can’t give support. Old shoes are a recipe for injury and pain and throwing on a fresher pair can really open your eyes to needing some new ones. You can check out this post to see if your current pair needs to be replaced.
While there are lots of other good reasons to add more running shoes to your collection these are the most important ones. Having a choice model is every color? That’s just a bonus.
Lots of runners find a pair of shoes they end up falling in love with. Unfortunately just because you love them doesn’t mean they’ll last forever. Everything wears out and eventually we all need new running shoes. Here are four of Team ECRP‘s tried and true methods for determining when it’s time to pick up a new pair.
Worn out treads. If your shoes look like the pair on the right in this photo, it’s time for them to go. When you’ve run enough to wear down the rubber on the bottom of your shoe, they’re not much help. Your traction on slippery roads or trails is gone. If your treads lack definition, it’s time to upgrade.
Pain train. Do you feet hurt after a workout? They shouldn’t. What about a sudden onset of shin splints? Both can indicate it’s time for new running shoes. As running shoes age, they start to break down. That breakdown means your cushion isn’t quite so fluffy, your arch isn’t getting the help it needs and your feet aren’t as well protected from the road. Old, broken down shoes can increase your risk for injury. No runner wants that.
Newer is better. You love the model you’re in. To avoid the changes that are made each year you stocked up with multiple pairs. If you slide on a new pair that feels cushier, more comfortable, supportive and softer, it’s time to can the old ones. If they’re pretty close, you’re probably in the clear to keep both pairs in your rotation.
Lots of miles. Lots of runners track their mileage and lots of them don’t. Whether you’re an avid Strava user or not, it’s pretty easy to guess how many miles are on your shoes. Shoes vary widely in how long they’ll last. If you’re running on hard surfaces they won’t last as long as they would if you tackled the trails every day. Heavier runners are tougher on shoes than lighter ones. A good baseline is 300-400 miles per pair but take into account the kind of running you do before tossing anything based purely on mileage.
The good news is there are always new models, technologies and colors out there so when one pair wears out you might just find something you like even more! Take these tips with you on your next outing to decide if it’s time for you to pick up a shiny new pair of running shoes.
Do you need a pair of racing flats? The answer is maybe. The contrasts between training shoes and race flats isn’t as dramatic as the differences between basketball and trail shoes but they are there. More than looks or drop, the type of shoes you want for race day depend on what kind of runner you are. Here are 5 ways to tell if you’ll want to stay clear of racing flats.
You’re a new runner. Throwing on a lighter shoe won’t actually make you that much faster. Hours of training and hard work do that. A less cushioned, less supportive pair of racing flats is more likely to lead to an injury than a new PR.
Marathoners. The marathon is a long race and you’ll be taking lots of steps while beating your body up. Don’t make it worse by stripping away the layer of protection between your foot and the road. Happy feet are fast feet so give them a little love on race day with nice comfy shoes. The longer the race, the more shoe you’ll need.
Heavier runners. You’ll need that extra cushioning for support over the length of the race. The barefoot movement hasn’t been all its cracked up to be. Typically, less protection means more injuries. No matter what the scale says, your gait can have a big impact on how much pounding your bones take with each step. Swapping into a lightweight shoe on race day can change the way you move and lead to injury.
You’re injured. If you have any hint of soreness, fatigue or muscle strain, stick with your trainers. You probably won’t be pushing yourself for the race’s entire duration anyway. It always better play things safe than toy with making a minor injury more serious.
You didn’t train in them. Nothing new on race day, right? That especially goes for shoes. Whether you’re tackling the course in brand new trainers or fancy racing flats, definitely spend time training in them. Take them out for easy runs, a track session or two and maybe even a long run. You have to prepare your body for the demands of a lightweight shoe.
Most runners have heard of people who wear different shoes on race day. Racing shoes are quite common and can be worn for many reasons. Aside from giving your trainers a break, racing shoes can help you run faster and feel sexier.
Lighter. Training shoes come in all sizes and shapes but the one thing they usually all have in common is weight. Trainers tend to be heavier for a few reasons. The thicker soles and increased cushioning provide protection from the pounding of training mileage while lifting that weight makes you stronger. Lighter shoes offer less protection but have been shown to increase speeds by an average of 1 second per mile for each ounce of weight lost. Train in 8 ounce shoes? Racing in 5 ounce shoes could lower your half marathon time by close to 30 seconds!
Lower profile. Race day shoes are typically cut lower around the ankle and have thinner uppers. This helps them weigh less while streamlining your foot. Showing off those sexy ankles might be just the ticket to a strong finish line photo and new PR.
Lucky. Whether it’s a trainer or a racing shoe, some pairs just have that sparkle. Save shoes that make you feel pretty, fast or lucky for race day. You don’t want to train too much in your racing shoes but you can definitely race in those favorite trainers.
Of course, all of these benefits can be completely muted if you don’t ever train in your racing shoes. We all know better than to wear a new piece of clothing or try a new fuel source on race day. Shoes are exactly the same. Running workouts in your racing shoes should be definitely be part of your training plan. You’ll want to do some speed work in the lighter shoes as well as some longer runs to strengthen your feet for the stresses of race day.