With the Comrades round the corner, Ballito podiatrist Nelfrie Kemp looks at the only, and most important piece of equipment that will get you over the finish line – running shoes.
It’s in the air. Can you smell it? There is not a run my local group does that the Comrades isn’t mentioned. The excitement and anticipation is mounting, whether you are planning on taking part this year, or if it remains a dream.
I’m not running – but am in the privileged position to share with runners their Comrades journey as they prep for qualifiers, increase in distance training, navigate their injuries, and negotiate and research the latest and best shoe for them.
The only piece of equipment you really need is your running shoes. Yes, I know barefoot running is an option, but we’re not going down that route for this year’s Comrades.
The impact of your foot on the ground is three to five times your body weight, and the function of your running shoes is to absorb enough shock to take the stress off your joints and to complement your foot mechanics for the most efficient gait.
Your choice of shoe will depend on your foot shape and function. It is different for every person and your choice of shoe should not be based on aesthetics, what works for your friend, or for the Olympian marathon runner. Depending on your running pace and style, it will have an effect on your choice of shoe.
Where do I go?
Best to go to a running-specific store with trained staff, but not just trained in the different brands. Staff need to understand running and it’s a bonus if they run themselves.
Which shoe do I choose?
Taking your running style and pace into consideration, try on two to three pairs of different brands in the same function of shoe – that is, neutral shoes.
How do I know my size?
Your running shoes should be one size bigger than your normal shoe size. This will allow for elongation of your feet while running, and accommodate the slight swelling of your feet with exercise. To size the shoe, take the innersoles out (the innersoles in most running shoes are not usually stuck into the shoe) and stand on top of the innersoles with your heel aligned at the back. There should be a thumbs width between the tip of your longest toe and the front of the innersole.
Is it the correct shoe?
Try on both shoes with socks you would usually use and tie the laces properly. Walk and run up and down in the shop. Does the shoe accommodate the shape of my foot? Does it feel as if my foot and shoe function as a unit when running? If you are confused, consult a professional – a podiatrist can assess your gait and advise you more specifically.
Lastly, don’t discard your previous running shoe that gave you so many happy miles of running. Just because it’s old and worn out and you might have developed niggles does not mean you have to change the type of shoe or brand – from neutral to stability. Also, be aware that with every new model/version of the shoe, there will be changes to the shoe. The aim of the manufacturers will always be to improve the functionality of the shoe, and the changes might not always complement your running mechanics. It’s always best to try on “your” brand and a few others just to see what works best for your foot.
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