Forget your garmin and gorgeous lululemon leggings, the most important running kit is your running shoes. While the right running shoes won’t make you run faster, they will help you to run better and injury free.
This is something I’ve found out for myself over the last few weeks. After a year of injuries I was finally running pain-free. Then, suddenly, without warning, every time I ran I would get pain in my left shin. At first I thought rest would help, but even after taking a week off running the pain came back as soon as I put on my running shoes and headed outdoors for a run. After rest, stretching and foam rolling the source of the problem became clear – my running shoes were too worn down and no longer providing the support I needed when I ran.
I’m a creature of habit. If there is something I like and know it works I want to stick with it. This is why I hang on to my running shoes for as long as possible (although the expense of buying new ones has something to do with it as well!). In the past I have worn my running shoes until they have literally fallen apart. But when it gets to the stage that my running shoes are no longer providing me with the support I need, I know it’s finally the time to give up and buy a new pair.
Even before I got injured I knew my running shoes were on their way out. I had bought them at the beginning of last year and clocked up a lot of miles in them, including running the London Marathon and two half marathons. When I’d go out for a run they felt flatter than usual – no longer offering the cushioning I was used to. They felt worn, but not in the comforting, shaped to my foot kind of way.
In the past I have had gait analysis to get the right pair of running shoes and during this I found that I over pronate (my foot rolls inward too much) when I run. This means I need shoes that provide extra support on the inside of my foot to help prevent injuries. This also means that when my shoes become too worn, they don’t provide the support I need, which is why I got injured.
After a very painful three mile run on Sunday I finally made the decision to ditch my running shoes. That afternoon I headed online and bought a brand new pair. OK, I bought exactly the same ones as before in exactly the same colour!
This evening I tested out my new (exactly the same as my old) pair of running shoes and did four easy miles pain-free. Proving that the right pair of running shoes really is the most important piece of kit a runner owns.
When should you change your running shoes?
The general rule with running shoes is that they need to be changed after 450-550 miles. Saying this, it is important to change your shoes earlier if they are no longer providing you with the support and cushioning you need. If your running shoes feel worn and flatter than you are used to it could be time to change them. Also, if they are torn or the sole has worn through, again, it’s time to ditch them for a new pair.
How to choose the right running shoes?
Ideally, before buying your first pair of running shoes you should have a gait analysis at a good quality running shop. This will enable you to see how you run and the type of shoe that best suits your running style. For example as my foot rolls inwards, I need a supportive shoe. If you run long distances you should buy a size larger than your usual size as this will give your feet room to expand in once they get hot from pounding the street. Also if, like me, you have wide feet you should consider buying men’s running shoes as they are wider and will be more comfortable.