The great shoe debate

I think this is one of those debates that will rage on forever. It has recently been fueled by some sport Doctors voicing an opinion that shoes don’t really matter, they are all the same. Then on the other side the manufacturers saying something different, athletes giving their bit and then of course there is the barefoot brigade with their view. So what is the answer, who knows? My feeling is that it boils down to the individual, but largely influence by the level that you are running at and most importantly terrain that you are running over.

I must admit that when I am in the building stage to an event and not very fit, shoes don’t play much of a part, I have a softer road shoe and a harder more stable trail shoe that’s it. The real issue comes into play when you are fit and pick up the pace, especially on the mountain. The correct shoe becomes really important. Running over rock areas with a road shoe is going to end in tears and a twisted ankle. So what’s the difference?

An off-road shoe has a more ridged sole, protecting stones from bruising the sole of your feet. Deeper tread for better grip and the most important thing is the support. The shoe has cross bracing around the toes as well as the bridge of the foot. This stops your foot from sliding around; reducing the foot from twisting in the shoe should you strike a rock and slip or hit it at a difficult angle. The sides of the shoe will also have protection should the side of the foot hit a rock. All of this also helps to avoid your feet tiring quickly. Then there are other technical issues, running in the wet, will your shoe drain properly and eventually dry. Running in sandy areas, make sure that you have a shoe with no gauze that might let the sand in. Running in really cold conditions, have a Gore-tex lining in the shoe to help keep the foot warm.

The other thing to do is use a shoe that has no mesh, but a solid outer covering. I am at the stage of once again shoe testing for my run of India. Hamish my training partner and I are doing daily testing in different shoes, trying to fine the ultimate combination to take with me. Starting in the Himalayas at -15 degrees and then ending at the coast at +40. It’s going to be interesting, but I think in the end I will go with 3 types and then the Gore-tex pair for the freezing first month.

My shoe that I really rate for the mountain running at the moment is the new Adidas Adizero XT it rocks, light, drains well grips like anything and no stone pushes through the sole.

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