Thursday, November 17, 2011

Training: Running Shoes

No matter if you are training indoors or outdoors one of the most important considerations is which shoes to train in. I myself have made mistakes in purchasing and training in shoes which were not adequate in providing me with the right type of support during workouts.

Fact of the matter is, the majority of weight loss training is high impact. The wrong type of shoe can not only make it more difficult to get through your workouts but can also cause injury. Here again, not everyone is built the same and the fact that your sister bought a pair of New Balance runners doesn’t mean that you should. Her feet are not yours, and vice versa.

Footwear is as important as any hockey or football equipment. If you really think about it, it takes care of your foundation. Without a solid foundation a house crumbles, does it not?

My first pair of runners (since beginning my weight loss regiment) were a pair of Nike “Shocks” purchased at Footlocker. When I first signed up at Nautilus Plus I was 220lbs and a size 10 in Women’s shoes. My feet were quite literally overweight just as the rest of my body. I was not comfortable in women’s shoes and quite often resorted to purchasing men’s sneakers. 

Although my "Shocks" were quite stylish they did very little in terms of supporting my feet. These shoes, which were all leather and cost nearly $300 after tax, were very rigid and did not allow for much in terms of movement and flexibility. It's a good thing I was a training novice at the time. I cannot imagine trying to do a deep lunge in these! 

I learned my footwear lesson following my attempt at walking 60kms for the "Walk to End Breast Cancer" in 2009. During the first 15km I began noticing that the front panel of leather built into the shoe was pressing down on my second toe on both feet. Despite this I continued walking. The ill fitting shoes caused "black toenails" 

Following the Walk and losing both toenails I went to Sports Experts and purchased my second pair of runners for training. Wanting to make an appropriate choice following a talk with a coworker who has done many marathons, I, quite literally, tried on every single pair of running shoes in the store. 

What I ended up with was a pair of Saucony Paramount 2 (size 9 this time).

The Paramount 2 was a much better choice. Although they weren't as "fancy" as my "Shocks" they allowed for much more fluidity in my movements. Oh yes, and no more clunking about the gym with a pair of heavy shoes. I found it much easier whenever I attempted to jog for a few steps on the treadmill. 

Furthermore, the Paramounts were armed with something I have only seen in Saucony brand shoes: an "archlock". This rubber piece woven into the side of each shoe is made to pull your arch into the support system within the shoe. 
A new era is about to begin. I have always wanted to purchase a pair of shoes from a "Running" store. The most common ofcourse is the "Running Room" but other such stores do exist in the Plateau and Westmount areas. The idea came about when I first spoke to Eric, one of our former MIS guys at IPEX who was is an avid runner and marathoner. The idea of having someone look at your feet and determine which type of shoe you should buy appealed to me but I had just purchased the Paramounts and would not feel the need to purchase a new pair of shoes until now.

I walked into the store as they were setting up for one of their training programs, went to the back and looked at the selection of shoes available. The shoes were categorized according to 3 categories: Cushioning, Stability, and Pronation. 

The next step was for one of the employees to have a look at my feet and determine what type of shoe I required. I have always known that I had a tendency to pronate (fall inwards when walking or running) but the key in determining which shoe you need is to know the degree to which you pronate, if at all. The Running Room employee first had me take off my shoes and walk back and forth in front of him as he squatted down to watch my movement. I then jogged back and forth. 

The verdict: I am an extreme pronator, which is probably caused by my flat arches.

Next, we needed to try on some shoes! 

Pronating basically means you have very little choice in terms of style. There were 5 models available to me (strictly speaking: for pronation), however, he had me try on 2 models from the pronation category and 2 stability runners to start. I retained only two models in what I had originally thought was my size (8.5). I asked about the Saucony "pronation" shoe and was saddened to hear that they didn't have my size. The shoes I had tried on still seemed to lack in support. 

My best bet was to try on a size 8 in the Saucony Hurricane 13 model I had tried on in an 8.5, the shoes just seemed a little loose fitting. 
These shoes, like my previous pair, featured the "arch lock" technology. They were very light weight and comfortable. However, I still felt I was "falling inwards" when attempting to test my balance (the exercise I used was a toe to knee touch).

When I asked for the 8's he went to the back and to my surprise brought me 2 boxes. It seems I was lucky, the Saucony Stabil CS2 model was available in an 8. After a few tests I decided on this model. 
This is quite literally the most supportive shoe on the market from Saucony. The shoe, from above is almost oval. 

As compare to the Hurricane 13
The shoe is outfitted with a very large insole and also includes the arch lock system. Although these shoes are a tad heavy they compensate for my tendency to fall in. The Stabil CS2 costs 149.99 at the Running Room and is made for only extreme pronators. 

The goal in any supportive shoe is to "make you" push off of the ball of your foot when running or jogging. Even prior to going to the running room I could tell that I was pronating as I would feel myself push off of my foot with my big toe (a sign I was rolling inwards with every step). A quick test to know if you are pronating is to do a quick jog back and forth in your running shoes or try rocking back and forth in bare feet. What is the last thing to touch the ground? Are you centered or can you feel your weight rolling inwards. Something I realized today is that I would tend to rock from side to side on my foot (think of a boat at sea) when testing my balance, I think this could also be a sign of pronation.

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