RUNNERS WORLD HAS PUBLISHED ITS 2016 SPRING SHOE GUIDE. This issue is highly anticipated by many runners, even though earlier leaks about new models have been appearing online and in manufacturers’ ads.
By this time in late winter (meteorological spring begins March 1, did you know, not March 20?) runners shoes have been subjected to many weeks of exposure to cold precipitation coming from the sky and that which covers or splashes up from the ground. They have gone through multiple dry-wet-dry cycles, sometimes as they were worn on long runs, and other times in the spot by the door where they were immediately kicked off after a training session. Dirt has subdued their once bright or rich, clean colors. They looked tired. Are we imagining it, or has this pair already lost the soft float-y cushioning it came with out of the shoe box in the fall? Time to replace? This pair has been with us through the hard times; is it a righteous act to discard them for a new pair? There can be angst involved, partly because new shoes are so expensive. But as runners take shoe-finder “tests”, follow guide advice, or shop the stores, we catch new “shu” (like in “flu”) fever. The 2016 SPRING “SHU” SEASON is upon us and there’s no effective vaccine!
So to first address the issue of whether or not to replace your shoes, there’s a lot of advice ( links 5-7 below). The mileage estimates of when old shoes are no longer helping you run comfortably (to avoid injury) and efficiently (to be fast) range from 200 to 2,000 miles! As in most cases you can throw out the extreme ends of this estimate. Professional runners who receive free shoes from sponsors may replace shoes every other month, after about 200 miles of running in them. Rugged individuals who are minimalist-minded may wait until they can actually feel the road surface under their feet, after 2,000 miles of wear. Most other advice puts replacement miles at about 300-600. If you run 20 miles/week that's after 15-30 weeks or 4-8months.
The next issue is how to find the best shoes for you. There are reviews, guides, or shoe-finders to help. The “Shoe Trivia” post last week had an item (# 2 in the article found in link 1) about how science may be questioning the assumed influence that pronation has on causing injury to runners, such that there may be less emphasis on having shoes correct over-pronation (tendency to roll on the inside of the foot) or supination (tendency to roll on the outside of the foot, also called under-pronation) in the act of running. (See NOTE below for more on this research study, it has limitations.)
The item says Brooks incorporates this thinking in its new shoe finder (link 5 ). The problem with using it, is that you will only be advised about models of that brand. There are reviews that rank shoes (link 8), but it’s difficult to imagine that a popularity rating will help an individual find what best for their feet.
The Runner’s World Shoe Finder (link 9), to me, is still the best method to research what’s NEW and UPDATED out there BEFORE going to a running specialty store; the older models you will know about if you have experience with them. One nice feature about the RW Shoe Finder is there are 3 tabs: a “Shoe Search” tab (search by manufacturers, models etc), a “Shoe Advisor” tab (answer questions to get recommendations), and “Shoes Like Mine” tab ( if you want something like what you already have run in, but perhaps is discontinued or you just want a change). These 3 options allow 3 different ways to search. A shoe model from a manufacturer can undergo a lot of changes over several seasons, and that same model may not work as well for you after it is updated. Plus, there may be something new introduced that is even better for you! Don’t plan to stick with a shoe just because you think it’s easier and safer; it may not be.
Of course specialty running stores offer so much help that it’s hard to beat them as a "go-to" source of advice. When you do visit, especially if you mostly run solo, you’ll be reminded that you belong to the wider RUNNING COMMUNITY.
[NOTE: More on the research referenced in ’20 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Running Shoes' by Brian Metzler (link 1): The results of the study (link 2) showed that novice runners with moderate pronation were not at greater risk of injury when they wore neutral shoes compared with neutral runners wearing neutral shoes. The study included only new runners. It also excluded those pronators who said they wore insoles. As a consequence, there were not as many persons as expected enrolled in the highly-pronated group. The authors concluded that “the results reported between high-pronators and neutrals should be interpreted with caution. “
More research will be required to see if similar results are obtained when experienced runners are tested, and when runners with pronation requiring insoles are tested. A big positive of this study and others, is that the focus of injury prevention in running is being shifted from shoe selection to training regimens. It is becoming clearer that overuse is the most common training error and that training errors are estimated to cause about 60-70% of all running injuries. Perhaps, as this research study's findings show shoe selection is not quite so important in some runners.]
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Running, walking, and fitness activities enable us to experience our physical selves in a world mostly accessed through use of fingers on a mobile device.
EARNED RUNS is edited and authored by me, runner and founder. I began participating in road races before 5Ks were common. I've been a dietitian, practiced and taught clinical pathology, and been involved with research that utilized pathology. I am fascinated with understanding the origins of disease as well as health.
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