Sunday, December 16, 2012

On Running Shoes

Running is a fairly simple sport with very little gear needed. However, as one gets serious about the sport  in terms of distance and/or timing the right shoe becomes a very crucial element. Or at least this used to be the case till a few years ago when running barefoot or with minimalist shoes took off soon after the publication of Christopher Mcdougall's 'Born to run..' in 2009. I used Adidas running shoes since I took to long distance running in 2011. Being a fairly neutral runner(that is neither a pronator nor a supinator) I picked a neutral , cushioned shoe namely Adidas Supernova cushion. And I stayed with this shoe for 10 years working through    a new pair every year.  In 2008 I did try a Asic Gel Kayano 13 - but this did not work for me and I switched back to my  seventh pair of  Supernova.  Supernova cushion then got replaced with Supernova Glide 3 which in turn got superceded by Supernova Glide 4 in 2012. In June I started my training for MHRM on October 7th 2012 with my new pair of Adidas Supernova Glide 4.  Though in the previous years I have felt very comfortable with the Adidas Supernova cushion/Glide shoes and have run all my marathons/ultra marathons in them, this new pair was not as comfortable. During the longer runs I was feeling a very distinct discomfort in my  right outer ankle.Later, on researching I realised this was a known issue with this shoe.After confirming with a gait analysis at a JackRabbit store in Manhattan that for my running form  I need a neutral cushioned shoe I switched to a Brooks Defyance 5, another neutral shoe, more than half way through my training in late August. And now I have become a fan of this shoe. Not just because I had a good MHRM and met my goal - the shoe feels very comfortable for me. My older Supernova which is a supernova Glide 3 and  quite worn out does not have this issue of irritating my ankle. In fact I ran the 2012 Bangalore Ultra with this shoe. It is kind of frustrating that shoe manufacturers release new models of the same shoe almost every year and while doing so tweak the show. This means one can never be sure that a model that worked before will still be comfortable after the tweak. Anyhow for now I plan to stay with the Brooks Defyance 5. I am pretty much a one shoe guy using the same shoe for training as well as racing. Many runners use a lighter shoe for racing called racing flats. These are flatter with very little or no cushioning and hence weigh less - 4 to 9 ounces as compared to 8 to 12 ounces for a cushioned shoe. My Defyance 5 weights 10.8 Oz while a racing shoe such as Asics Piranha weighs 4.3 Oz. The very light racing flats such as the Asics Piranha are meant for shorter distance races say a 5K or a 10K - though runners have started using them for HM and FM races as well. Since these shoes have no cushioning , in order to avoid injury, the racing flats are not used during training long runs. To get used to them they could be used in speed or interval training runs. I may consider using a racing flat in 2013 - need to research options(there don't seem to be many in India) and try them out.

Interest in running barefoot or with minimalist shoes has definitely picked up worldwide. In India also a lot of runners have now taken to running barefoot or with Vibrams or minimalist shoes. A few of my running friends recently completed  50Kms at the 2012 Bangalore ultra barefoot and using minimalist shoes.  While running in minimalist shoes or Vibrams is generally considered beneficial and reduces chances of injury one needs to make careful transition, over a period of time, from using cushioned shoes to non cushioned ones. As one's running form has got used to cushioned shoes and transitioning out of it involves some changes in running form.  There  is a lot of information on this topic on the net- this is one of the hottest topic of discussion in running and fitness forums. A lot of information is available on the Vibrams website as well as at this Runners world link and this NY times blogpost

I am personally not tempted to switch to minimalist shoes or barefoot running - as cushioned shoes seems to be working for me so far- why change something if it is not broken -unless one is going barefoot investment in shoes whether cushioned or minimalist or Vibrams is anyway similar. 

1 comment:

Amita Singh said...

Not using the right running shoes can cause major problems in the long run. I bought my new online running shoes from the New Balance India Website.

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