At the outset, I have to admit that all equipment is important from socks, to shorts, to tops, to undergarments and even a runners best friend …. Vaseline. Yes, Vaseline can and is the most important accessory that you will ever possess, at least as a runner. It will stop chafing in the worst places, act as a layer of clothing on your face in the bitter cold of winter and prevent blisters on your feet even if you have the right shoes. It is a great source of laughter and discussion amongst your running group, especially if you purchase it in the mega size bottles and offer your friends the opportunity to use the communal bottle. It also provides for a great source of humour if it has baby powder added.
All of that said however, running shoes are the most important of all pieces of equipment you will own and one should make certain that they buy the right shoes. Just to put this in perspective, in a marathon participants take over 30,000 steps, and that obviously does not include the number of steps that are taken in training. On average one takes about 700 to 725 steps for each kilometer that they run. This quickly translates to a lot of footsteps, and as the old song that we learned as children states so eloquently, “The foot bone is connected to the shin bone and the shin bone is connected to the knee bone and the knee bone is connected to the thigh bone ….” and on it goes. So, it does not take a “rocket scientist” or Sherlock Holmes to deduce that in order to reduce the chance of injury, a proper shoe is an absolute necessity.
When I refer to a “proper running shoe” I do not mean going to a generic running shop and buying the most expensive, the cheapest, the prettiest, the most popular or the most colourful shoe in the store. Everyone is an individual, and as such everyone is blessed with an individual gait that requires separate attention when it comes to purchasing shoes. Add to that everyone’s varying height, weight, leg length, foot size, foot type (flat footed or otherwise), training regime, preferred substrate upon which to run, goals and objectives and many other intangibles far too numerous to mention and you have a recipe for problems if you buy a pair of shoes that someone else recommends.
Although one may be immediately intimidated by these variables and therefore not willing to learn anything, in order to simplify matters there are specialty running stores that will assess your foot strike and recommend the proper shoe for you. And so it is my suggestion that you go to one of these stores with an old pair of running or walking shoes (these are of great help to the salesperson) and ask that you be assessed. Basically the clerk will watch you jog or walk in shoes and make his/her suggestions. You should listen to them and for the most part follow their suggestions. But make certain that the shoe fits properly. The toe box should be loose and you should not feel any rubbing anywhere in the shoe. On the other hand the heel box should be fairly tight so as to avoid as much as possible blistering.
During the assessment process you should be made aware of whether you are a pronator, a neutral runner or a suppinator. This determination will allow the clerk to recommend from one of these three basic types of shoe, a Stability Shoe, a Motion Control Shoe or a Cushioned/Neutral Shoe.
You can look up each of these terms but to help you;-
Pronator is a runner has a foot that rolls inward during the weight-bearing phase of the stride. A very low or flat arch, and heavier people often have feet of this type. A pronator strikes the ground with their heel and rolls excessively in toward the big toe.
Suppinator or under pronator is a person who’s foot hits the ground at the heel and then tends to roll out toward the little toe. Suppination is the rarest gait type.
Neutral Runner will hit the ground with the outside of the heel and then roll in toward to big toe. Neutral runners do not require gait correction from their running shoes.
Now go out and get yourself a proper pair of running shoes and next I will address the Galloway Method of training and how it can be utilized to get you running.