So here it is, a question that gets asked almost every day. Which is the best running shoe, or, what shoe should I be running in? I see this daily, on social media, on posts, customers asking via email. The worrying thing, even more so then the questions, are the answers when on open platforms like groups.
‘I have heard that I need a neutral shoe’ or ‘my friend recommended I try the new ….’
But what does it all mean? Does a recommendation actually mean anything, if you haven’t had a proper individualized assessment? Realistically no. There are way too many variables for anyone to know what will give the same benefits as anyone else. Just because it worked for your friend, does not mean it will work for you. The question you should be asking is, what do you really need to look for in a shoe? Is your foot as wide as your best friend? How flexible are they? And your glutes? Does your big toe flex properly? And your windlass mechanism? Youhave long slender feet with high arches, and your best friend has short wide flat feet, yet he is quick to tell you that you should buy the same shoes as them because they love them. While, all of these are vitally important, the blogger you follow doesn’t like them, so they must be shit. Unfortunately, they like soft flexible shoes and strike the ground differently too you, so honestly, if you’re buying shoes off a bloggers recommendation, you are never going to get the right shoe.
Next time you visit RUN, ask a staff member to explain how all neutral shoes are not created equal. You will be amazed that a selection of shoes that are all aimed at the same target market are so different. Perhaps then you will realize that they range from soft and flexible to hard and rigid, from low to the ground with a flat profile, to high drops and lots of cushionin
g, and you know what? None of them is better for you than any of the other. Do you know which one is the best of all? – The one that fits both your foot, your running style, as well as your goals and running philosophy.
Why do I say philosophy? Because, there are many, many different recommendations, and honestly, most have validity to them, but they need to fit in with you and your goals, style of training, your biomechanics and training regime.
The only way, for anyone to give you any actual information, is to have an assessment, combined with a history of what you have done, what you are going to do, and what accompanying or work you will be doing. The reality of the situation, that while certain people and brands tout certain products to be the be all and end all of running injuries, and that their product will end the vicious cycle of running injuries, nothing other than your body can actually do that, the shoe is just a product that can assist you in your doing.
Run on your forefoot and you will be injury free? This is an interesting position to take given that more than 90% of all runners, including many elite and super elite runners, do not adopt a forefoot strike pattern. Some do, but that is the variability of the human organism.
Bottom line, there is, and almost certainly, never will be, a one size fits all approach to running shoes, and what is ideal as a general recommendation for everyone. The best ‘general recommendation’ I can give, is that nobody is the same and therefore their shoe choices shouldn’t be the same. We have come a long way and have learned so much, that it seems impossible that people would continue to be so stubborn and try box us in the same category. We all look for, and want, different things from our shoes. Some want lots of cushioning and support, others prefer more feeling from the ground and less structure. Try find options that suite your style rather than a product that forces you to run a certain way. Try various options, don’t ever let anyone tell you that you have to use a specific product or brand, be open to new products and evolving technology. Also remember that the new version of a shoe may not be the same as the old. People often complain, but they fail to realise that the change that they don’t like, makes the product a thousand times better for someone else.
Bottom of the line, make sure your body is strong, train sensibly, rest enough and make sure you get proper advice on your shoes and don’t worry about what anyone else says about your shoes, and your running will be better than ever.
Happy miles ahead.