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Fitness, err, Saturday: All About the Shoes Part III

Well. Writing a Fitness Friday post on a Saturday is not the same thing at all ;) Truth of the matter is, I didn’t get home from work until 10:30 last night and the idea of writing a blog post after a full night’s rest sounded a lot more appealing!

So after 9 hours of glorious slumber, a belly full of oatmeal, and a whole day off ahead of me, I think I’m in a much better frame of mind to write. Let’s get to it!

Today’s post is the third and final post in my Running Shoe Series. I highly suggest you catch up on Part I and Part II if you missed them. We covered a lot of ground on how to pick the right running shoes for you.

In this post, I’ll be answering your questions about running shoes and delving into the great barefoot debate. Ohmy.

kellybwell
I’ve always wondered this….now…perfect time to ask! LOL
I’m still wearing running shoes (GT-2150 Asics) for everything. Honestly, I don’t even run anymore. LOL I know, I know…but they’re so darn comfortable, and I know that. No dropping $100 on shoes and finding they suck. :)
So…question….you go to a running store to be fitted for running shoes…but….where do you go/how do you know what cross-training shoes to get?
And, is a good cross-trainer enough for someone like me who has exercise ADD? Some days it’s walking the pup outside, some days its all gym cardio, and MOST days its weight-lifting.

In an ideal world, we’d have different shoes for running, walking, hiking, cycling, and the gym. Of course, few of us have the money to throw down on all of those things.

It’s important to know that running shoes are designed with forward motion in mind. They are best for running and walking. It’s also worth mentioning that sometimes your gait changes between running and walking, and sometimes you require a different shoe for both. I am a perfect example of this, as I get pains in the bottom of my feet when I go for long walks in my running shoes, but could run 10 miles in them and feel fine.

Cross-trainers are built for lateral motion. The side-to-side movement that you do in exercise classes or weight lifting. They have a wider outsole to support this. It’s easier for most people to wear running shoes to the gym in case they want to step on the treadmill or stair climber for a little bit. But it’s also a great way to wear out the cushioning in running shoes without even running in them.

With this in mind, I always recommend wearing old running shoes to the gym, and wearing only your newest running shoes on your actual runs. Just make sure you label which is which if they’re the same make. Trust me, it sucks getting them confused :P

As for where to get fitted for shoes – I can’t tell you that! Every town and city is different. The national chains we have in Canada aren’t everywhere else and every place has the mom and pop sports stores. Start googling and calling places and hopefully you’ll get pointed in the right direction.

Lily @ Lily’s Health Pad
Oddly enough, I am not a pronator, yet I was fitted many years ago at a swanky running shop and it was suggested I wear the Asics 2100 series. I’ve been wearing them ever since and have found I love them.

However, according to your last post…I think I’m a supinator! (Land on my outer heel and roll onto my outer forefoot) I tried running with shoes and without shoes…supinator either way.

Uh…I guess I’m wearing the wrong shoe??

This is where I say if it ain’t broke don’t fix it! I sometimes get customers in the running store who have had a lot of success with a shoe that I wouldn’t have necessarily chosen for them. I look at the wear patterns and they’re all wrong. But I get nervous putting them in something different, because changing it up could end up causing more harm than good! You’ll know if you’re in the wrong shoe, despite what all the “rules” out there tell you you should be in.

 

M
Could you help me? If so, many thanks!!

I have a wide foot and pronate quite a bit….what should I be getting?

(I have been buying men’s Brooks the last few years(to accomodate wide foot) but wonder if there is abetter option for me?

I am overweight and using shoe for jogging and walking.(have had in the past plantar fasciitis, and other feet problems as I have gotten closer to middle age!)

Thanks Susan!!!

PS

Just realize I am not sure if I pronate or supinate…..I do one of them lot.
My shoes are worn away more on the OUTSIDE edges of foot,not inner….so which is that? Thanks again!

First, running on the outside of your foot is called supination. That puts you in the cushion category for shoes. Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do to correct running on the outside of your foot. Even worse, not a lot of cushioned shoes come in wider sizes!

Brooks shoes actually tend to run a little more fitted, so I probably wouldn’t put you in something like that. New Balance are one the widest shoes out there. And people who are a little overweight sometimes need extra cushion in their shoe, so my first recommendation would be the 1064 (or anything in the 1060 series).

Adidas shoes can also run a little on the wide side. The adiStar Ride series are the ones with the more cushioning.

Shoes like Brooks and Mizuno actually do gender-based shoe construction, so I wouldn’t recommend going to the men’s side on those. If you still can’t find a women’s shoe that is wide enough for your foot, try something like an Asics or Saucony. The biggest difference with those is the wider toe box in the men’s shoe, which is exactly what you’re looking for!

 

Alina (Duty Free Foodie)

What are your thoughts on the Nike Free? I think I am a bit of a pronator, but I am trying to use the Free as a gateway shoe to perhaps try barefoot running in the future.

Nike Free shoes are incredibly lightweight with just a pinch of support and cushioning meant to slightly mimic the feeling of running with no shoes on. Let me put it this way, if barefoot running is something that interests you, these would be a good place to start (as opposed to Vibram FiveFingers or just throwing your shoes out all together). I don’t recommend them if you’re a heavy pronator or need orthotics. And definitely don’t log too many miles in them. Start with a mile at a time and keep them for your short runs.

Brie @ Brie Fit
I want to know where you stand on the barefoot/minimalist shoe trend! Are you going to trade your current shoes for a pair of VFFs or Nike Frees any time soon? I’ve had sooo many foot and lower leg issues, I’m wondering if I should give it a shot or if I’m setting myself up for disaster. Discuss!

Brie, you already put my answer in your question! :P

Barefoot running is just that, a trend.

I do think there is something to it. Some of the world’s best runners never wore shoes. Running shoes can actually change your gait to hitting more heavily on the outside of your heel, when ideally you’d want to hit closer to your forefoot. In a perfect world, we’d all have the perfect barefoot gait and could run around the mountains injury free.

But let’s get real. Most of us are recreational runners who only started endurance running as teenagers or adults. Most of us grew up wearing shoes and not gallivanting around barefoot. Most of us live in suburban/urban areas where our paths are made of pavement or littered trails.

Yes, the best cushioning for running already resides in your feet. Something shoemakers have been trying to mimic for years.

And in a perfect world, I wouldn’t get droves of clients who can’t push 5 lbs above their heads because they’re so weak from sitting at desks all day.

My point is, we live in a modern world where the human body is not used like it once was. We’re an ever-evolving species. Instead of trying to mimic the way history tells us we’re supposed to move, we should just move the way we’re built to now.

It’s also important to remember that each body truly is different. Just because one person has success ditching their shoes, doesn’t mean it will work for your body’s individual needs. No long-term studies have been done on the effects of barefoot running. So you may save money on shoes now, but what kind of money will you have to spend on rehabilitation later?

If it is still something that interests you, I suggest you start very small. Something like the Nike Free pictured above, doing very short runs to begin with. Never go barefoot for a long run unless you’ve already been training without shoes for a couple of years.

As for me, I’ve never had any problems with running shoes. I like the extra protection they give me. I’m not that competitive and like running for the fun of it. I don’t really care if ditching my shoes will make me better, I’m happy with the way I run now.

 

Question of the Day: Where do you stand on the barefoot running debate? Have you tried it yet?

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Fitness Friday – All About The Shoes Part II

Happy Fitness Friday friends!

This week is a continuation of our running shoe talk from last week. Click here if you missed Part I.

Today we are delving into how a running shoe is constructed + differences between popular brands.

I could ramble on all day about the little differences in fabrics, cushioning, and construction. But for brevity’s sake, I will stick to the basics. Things that stick out between brands and make a difference in how they fit your feet. In case you are wondering how I know all of this, I work in a specialty running store where I analyze gaits and fit people for proper running footwear. It’s quite interesting once you get into it!

We will start with my ole’ faithful…

 

Saucony

I’m really starting with this one because I found this wonderful picture of the shoe construction. The upper is where the most fabric is. Usually some sort of mesh. The sockliner is removable in case you want to insert an orthotic. Everything between the top and outsole is called the midsole. This is where each brand uses their own “technology” for cushioning and support.

 
Most shoes will include the name of their technology in the model name. For example, every Saucony shoe is called a Progrid because they use a solid tennis racket-like plate for cushioning (and springy-ness). A lot of people will come in to my store asking for Progrids, but they are technically all Progrids. What differentiates the models is the level of cushioning and support they provide for a neutral runner, pronator or supinator. The above model is the Omni 8 and among the most popular Saucony in the stability category.

Also worth mentioning is that companies bring out new models every year. Sometimes they upgrade the shoes, other times they just change the colour. The older model of the above shoe would have been the Omni 7. That’s the purpose of the numbers!

Additional notes on Saucony

  • They are often made with a wider toe box.
  • People will often comment that they feel “flatter” on the bottom, or “more stable”

 

Asics

 

  • Asics uses gel as their main cushioning technology. Every Asics shoe is called “Gel + Model Name.”
  • Asics uses asymmetrical lacing with the idea that it laces up along the main bone on the top of your foot (you can really see this on the Kayano pictured above)
  • Asics are comparable to Sauconys in that people who like one usually like the other. Most common comments are that the Asics mesh is a little more breathable and they feel more “cushiony.”

The above Asics Gel 1250 are the best selling running shoe in North America. They’re a stability shoe for a mild to moderate pronator, which means just a bit of arch support. A little more cushioning than the cheaper 1150 model. They use the same numbering system – the previous model being the 1240 and so on.

 

Nike

 

  • My current running shoe!
  • Nike uses a plate technology for cushioning, which is just a simple plate in the midsole.
  • Nike Air models use gas-filled plastic membranes inserted in the sole for cushioning.

 

  • The new Lunarglides offer what they call “dynamic support,” claiming the level of support changes with each foot strike as you need it.
  • Notorious for running small and being narrow. People usually have to go a half size up in Nikes.

 

  • Other Nike running technology includes the Waffle series which uses a waffle cushioning and grip on the outsole. Said to be based on an old track coach who used his wife’s waffle iron to create cushioning in his runner’s shoes.

 

Mizuno

 

  • Uses the Wave technology for support.
  • Claim that “the wave” better absorbs the impact of running, whereas a flat cushioning disperses the impact evenly along the midsole. The wave also better keeps the midsole from collapsing.
  • Known for being a little narrow, very light, and a little extra cushioning in the forefoot.

 

Brooks

  • Brooks has started using what they call DNA cushioning. They use individual molecules connected by strands to create chains.
  • Noticeable tip up at the toe to propel you forward when running. Because of this, they do not make for a good walking shoe.

 

New Balance

  • Use foam and N-ergy materials which have no empty air spaces for additional shock absorption.
  • A notoriously wider shoe.
  • Funky ribbed shoelaces that are supposed to keep from getting loose on long runs.

 

Have your eyes glazed over yet? :P

Really, the most important part of picking a running shoe is determining what kind of running gait you have. From there, it’s all about what brand of shoes fit your feet best and how much cushioning you prefer. Personally, I’m starting to prefer lighter shoes. That’s why I made the switch from wide and cushy Sauconys to more foot-hugging, flexible Nikes.

It’s also worth mentioning that you want to go up at least half a shoe size for running sneakers. You need the extra space at your toes for the forward motion of running, plus your feet are likely to swell more than in your every day shoe.

 

Got any running shoe questions? Send them my way! There are a few from Part I that I’ll be answering in a post soon :)

Fitness Friday – Choosing The Right Gym

It’s October. The leaves are changing. You’ve started wearing gloves on your runs and bike rides. Unless you live in Arizona, then you may just need an air-conditioned break.

Regardless of why or when, choosing the right gym for you is serious business! Pricey payments aside, the gym you choose has a direct affect on your fitness success. Choose the wrong one and you’ll never go.

Seeing as I spend ALL day in a gym, (work in one, exercise in one, eat in one, and sometimes even nap in one) I wanted to offer my readers things to look for when picking a gym that’s juuuuust right ;)

 

1. Location.

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Clearly, you want a gym close to where you either live or work. Think about when you are most likely to work out. Are you committed to going before or after work every day? Are you more likely to go when you’ve got downtime on the weekends? What is the surrounding area like? Can you run or bike there? Having the option to do part of your cardio component outside is a luxury you don’t know you’re missing until you have it.

Additionally, what kind of businesses are in the area? I went to a gym once that was in a grocery store and made running errands a cinch. I also went to a gym that was next door to a place that served the best pizza in town :\

 

2. Change rooms

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Being comfortable enough to shower at your gym is a huge convenience. Especially when you’re dropping in between priorities. Besides being clean, are there soaps and shampoos in the showers? Extra things like lotion or hair product? Are there enough lockers? It can be pretty darn frustrating when there isn’t. Also, it’s worth taking note of how many people in the change room are comfortable enough to parade around in their birthday suits. Seriously! In my experience, women don’t feel the need to hide behind curtains in gyms with a welcoming and comfortable atmosphere.

 

3. Weight area.

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The weight room should have at least two of all the essentials: flat benches, incline benches, bench press racks, squat racks, dumbbells, barbells, and cable machines. These are such commonly used pieces of equipment that it can quickly grow frustrating when you always have to wait for the only incline bench in the whole place. I also tend to judge a gym by how many fun toys they have kicking around – swiss balls, bosu balls, jump ropes, balance plates, kettlebells, etc.

Keep in mind, strength training equipment doesn’t have to be brand spanking new to be effective. But everything should operate smoothly. No squeaky cable machines!

 

4. Cardio machines.

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While I may be lenient about the condition of the strength training equipment, the newest cardio machines make a world of difference. Newer treadmills are more sturdy and quiet. Newer elliptical are better designed to move with your body. When you’re on a piece of cardio equipment for 40 minutes straight, you want it to be the least painful possible.

Some people may have differing opinions on this, but I’m a strong supporter of no sign-ups or time limits on cardio machines. Especially if you’re looking to play around on a bunch or hop on for quick sprints during a routine. Plus, having to change treadmills 20 minutes into a long-run because of a time limit is a pain in the butt.

 

5. Entertainment.

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Tying in with the cardio discussion, there should be lots of big TVs visible from at least the cardio area. Many gyms now have earphone plug-ins to listen to the TVs. If they don’t, make sure they at least put on the closed captioning, otherwise it’s really boring (trust me). Even better is if the cardio machines have individualized screens on each piece! Also note the music that’s playing in the gym. My current gym plays good music most of the time which is a really nice bonus. My old one played nothing but Beyonce.

 

6. Space.

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A gym doesn’t necessarily have to be 2-3 levels to qualify as “spacious.” I’m talking about blank floor space. An area where, if you wanted to, you could jump rope, swing around kettlebells, jump over benches, etc. Even more important is a big matted area for stretching. Or at least an area that you can bring a mat to. This is probably the most overlooked design component of most gyms.

 

7. Sanitary.

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Look for sanitizing spray bottles and hand sanitizer. There should be one only a few steps away no matter where you are in the gym. The hippie in me gets irritated by gyms that provide paper towel instead of cloth towel for wiping off equipment.

 

8. Parking.

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Parking should be free! If it isn’t, the gym should validate it for you. Also, make sure there is ample parking. It is SO frustrating when you finally drag your butt to the gym, only to find there’s no place to park!

 

9. Fitness classes.

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First, there should be fitness classes you would actually go to. Second, they should be at times you can attend. Third, they should mostly be included in your membership (sometimes things like bootcamps aren’t). Fourth, the instructors should be good! Make sure to take a good look at the fitness schedule and ask to try out at least one class first. Even if you don’t picture yourself going to them, it’s really nice to have the option when you find yourself suddenly lacking motivation.

 

10. Hours.

If you plan on working out before your 8am job, and the gym only opens at 7am, that could be a problem. Also, be sure to check out the weekend hours. A lot of gyms close around 5-6pm on weekends, which may not be conducive to sleeping in and getting a late brunch ;)

 

 11. Lighting

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Try to find a gym that is bright and open with natural light pouring in. Avoid gyms that are dark and windowless. The sunlight really will have an effect on your mood, energy and stamina during your workout! Danky basement gyms are just depressing.

 

12. Staff.

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Obviously, you want them to be welcoming and friendly! Be wary of anyone who seems too pushy right off the bat. At some gyms, they are constantly trying to sell you something, be it training sessions or an upgraded package. Watch how the staff interacts with other clients and with each other. Do they know everyone’s name? Can they recognize people on the floor? Gyms are a business, but you shouldn’t feel like you’re in one when you’re there.

 

Question of the Day: Chime in! What are things you look for in a gym? Anything that turns you off a gym?