I have a friend named Bhiron Scofield.She has been a loyal runner for three years.She has completed two marathons and several short races.Besides,she logs about 20 miles almost every week.Once a time I asked her,which were her favorite trainers? A $25 pair of Champion shoes she bought at New York.”I like running in simple shoes,”she said.”The more you pay,the more unnecessary items you get.”She is right.Money often buys higher-quality goods,but it can do nothing when we talk about running shoes.
From 1970s on,running has exploded as a leisure sport.In 2009,almost five hundred thousand runners completed a marathon.In 1976,the number was just 25,000.At the same time,sales of running shoes won a record $2.19 billion in 2009,60 percent more than ten years ago.
Well,the shoes were not really worth that value then.In 2006,English researchers held a small test focus on running shoes at three price levels,ranging from $80 to $150,and they got a conclusion that low and midcost shoes within the same brand cushioned runners’ feet just as well as high-cost ones—sometimes even better.
The usual perception is that if you pay more,you will get better shoes.However their research result did not support that viewpoint.
Shoe manufacturers keep adding improvements to shoes in the form of cushioning gel pods,microprocessors and so-called thrust enhancers,but these upgrades don’t seem to make runners safer.A review of current studies on running shoes published in 2009 found that there were no evidence-based studies that supported running shoes really helped prevent outdoor injury.What was worse,injury rates have gone rising.
Fancy running shoes may even lead to injury,experts say.Some studies show that when runners don expensive running shoes that promise superior cushioning,they incur more injuries than runners using cheaper ones.
If you want to run well and run safely,consider fit first and price last.”You want a shoe that helps you maintain a balanced position,” said Mark Montgomery,manager of the JackRabbit Sports store in Union Square in New York.”A more expensive shoe is not always the solution.” With the ING New York City Marathon approaching on Nov.7,here are some guidelines for buying the best shoe for you.
A SHOE THAT FITS.
If you are new to running,or have not been fitted in a few years,go first to a reputable store that specializes in running shoes.A well-trained salesperson should analyze your gait and inquire about your running habits before recommending a shoe.That first fitting is important,because it will give you a sense of what type of shoe is best for you.Once you know,you can head down-market for the bargains.It is wise,though,to get refitted every few years.Over time,your arches tend to fall and your feet become longer.The model or type that worked well for you in your 40s may not be the best one for you in your 50s.
SIZE IT UP.
What is a good fit? Buy a running shoe that is a half size or so larger than your regular shoe.There should be a thumb’s width between the tip of your big toe and the top of the shoe.Don’t get too hung up on the official size.Sizes vary from brand to brand and model to model.Ms.Tanenbaum buys shoes that are two sizes larger than her regular shoes.”Almost shoes are mass-produced these days,with no real attention to detail or quality,” said Professor Abboud.”If you take two pairs of shoes from a same brand,you will not be guaranteed the same size shoes.It may vary by up to one size in length.”Make sure the shoes are not too tight across the arch and that your heel is snug.They should feel comfortable right away.”The shoes should feel like they belong on your feet,” said Gordon Bakoulis,49,a running coach in New York City who has competed in four United States Olympic Marathon Trials.
LESS IS MORE.
The cheapest solution? Forgo shoes altogether and join the legions of runners who have embraced the barefoot trend.
It is not just a fad.A few studies have suggested that running barefoot might be better for your body over the,ahem,long run than running in shoes.A 2009 study found that compared to going barefoot,running shoes put more pressure on the hip,knee and ankle joints and concluded that running shoes could put athletes at greater risk for osteoarthritis of the knee.Earlier studies found that running shoes could increase the risk for plantar fasciitis and ankle sprains.Minimalist shoes are a good hedge for runners who favor simplicity,but who do not want to fully embrace the barefoot trend.If you want to approximate the experience,look into the Nike Free (about $85) or the Saucony Kinvara (about $90).To get even closer to the ground,try Vibram Five Fingers shoes($60 to $70),which has very little support and is more akin to a water shoe than a running sneaker.
In a word,the less you think about a shoe,the better.