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…
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 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.
- 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.
- 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 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.
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 :)
Happy Fitness Friday! As promised, I am here to talk all about sneakers today. For the past month, I’ve been training on how to fit people for proper running shoes at a specialty running store. I finally feel like I can start sharing all my new knowledge!
Ironically, we aren’t really talking about shoes that much in the first post of this series. Instead, we’re starting at the beginning with the feet.
Be thankful I kept my socks on for these photos ;) I want to demonstrate the three most common foot types. Keep in mind, the shape of your foot will change from standing, to walking, to running. So you may require different shoes for all these needs. Also, running shoes are not cross trainers. The former is meant for a forward motion, the latter for lateral motion. I don’t recommend wearing your gym shoes for running or vice versa. Yup, it’s an expensive habit. Now how many pairs of pumps do you own? :P
The above photos represent a neutral stance. I’m not the best example of this because my arches are quite high to begin with and you can see my weight coming to the side a little. But in general, the arches are a good height and the ankles are above the heels.
This is an example of how a neutral runner strikes the ground. Almost everyone hits on the outside of the heel first (that’s why shoes have extra cushioning there) and then curve to come off on the inside of the forefoot. If this is where the wear patterns are on the bottom of your shoe, then you’re in the right one!
Supination is when you come to the outside of your foot. You will immediately notice a high, or “rigid” arch. The knees will sometimes come apart when a person squats and you will see the toes spread out to the side when the person walks.
Most noticeably, the ankles will turn to the outside of the heel. There is nothing you can do to correct this in a regular running shoe. So supinators go for a general cushioning shoe. No arch support required, just something to make the ride a little comfier!
This is where you’ll see wear patterns on the shoe of a supinator. The worst thing you could do for a supinator is put them in a shoe with arch support, because it will only push their foot out further.
Pronation is actually the most common form of gait. More people pronate than supinate or run neutrally. Again, my foot here isn’t the best example for this, but you will notice the flatter arch right away. You’ll see the inside of the foot pushing toward the ground when they walk or run. The knees will come together when they squat.
The ankles here come to the inside of the heel. Pronators need varying levels of arch support and most commonly wear a stability shoe. The above example would need just mild arch support to push the feet up from leaning inward when running. Some people however overpronate and have flat feet. They require a motion control shoe with super duper arch support.
And just so you get an idea of what the varying levels of support look like:
Motion Control (overpronator)
Press on the cushioning on the inside of the shoe and you can tell where the arch support begins by how hard it gets. Also, the more support, the more expensive the shoe!
It’s also worth noting that people with orthotics are typically put in a cushioning/neutral shoe because the orthotic is already doing the correction for them. If you have flat feet and wear a supportive orthotic, a shoe with extra support can actually overcorrect you and do more damage.
So that is my introduction to running shoe classifications! Next week I am going to cover the popular running shoe brands and how to find a brand that suits you as a runner. Per usual, leave any questions you may have below.
Have a fabulous weekend everyone!
My staff discount at the running store finally came through. Seconds after getting the code, I literally ran there buy the shoes I’ve been dreaming of.
You see, I religiously get new running sneakers every six months. Come month 5 I start to get nagging aches and pains that weren’t there before. Even though a sneaker looks fine, there can be significant wear to the cushioning. Well, it’s been 9 months since my last upgrade, and my feet and legs have been screaming at me.
My past two pairs have been Saucony Rides, but I’ve been branching out and testing other pairs at work. Some (like the Brooks Ariel or Asics Nimbus) just feel all wrong. Too heavy, too squishy, too much in the heel, not enough in the forefoot.
I’ve never thought of wearing Nikes to run in until I put the Air Pegasus 27 Trail shoes on. Everything just felt right. Even though I’ve historically gone with sneakers with a wider toe box, my foot feels nice in the notoriously narrow build of the Nike shoe. I’m a mild supinator, which means I run on the outside of my foot. Also means I need a shoe for mostly cushioning and don’t require arch support. These babies fit the bill!
Even though trails are my surface of choice, it’s never occurred to me to buy specific trail shoes. They have more grip on the bottom and are made with Gore-Tex for a little water resistance.
I could not wait to put these on my feet and fly down my regular running trail along Lake Ontario. I was so excited when I popped out of bed this morning, I failed to notice it was pouring rain outside until I stepped out the door. Under any other circumstances I would have turned back inside. I’m a fair weather runner. But I was just too excited to test out my new shoes! I hit the puddles for a soggy forty minutes and got completely drenched. Well, all except my feet that is. The water resistance totally worked and the extra grips were great on the wet surface. These will be great for winter training!
Did I mention they’re cute too? ;)
Alright, enough about my shoes. Something even more exciting happened today.
My mom arrived!!
She’s visiting from New Brunswick until next week and I couldn’t be more excited to have her here. We haven’t seen each other since I left New Brunswick in June!
My mom has been to Toronto manymany times, so there’s no need to show her all the typical touristy spots. We quickly came up with a list of littler known neighbourhoods she needs to explore during this visit. The first one we went to for lunch – Little India!
They had a cafeteria style set-up where you pick what you want then call your number when it’s ready.
Mom and I both went for the special of rice and lentils with your choice of a meat, vegetable and bread.
For meat, I went with the goat curry…
The spiced vegetables…
Really liked the long grain rice with peas. This one had a wonderful spice in it too that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. Took the edge off the more harshly spiced dishes.
Finally, the roti…
Yum! Just like a thinner pita bread with a little crisp. This was my “healthy” choice for the meal ;)
I caught her mid naan bite :P She said she really enjoyed her food as well. We were both excited to try goat for the first time.
After lunch, we wandered around Little India in the rain a bit more to walk off the heavy meal…
Right now my mom is catching up on sleep from her early flight. We’ve got some local sausages in the fridge for dinner and I’m pumped to spend the rest of the week with her!
Off to write tomorrow’s Fitness Friday post. Today’s was a little sneak peak, as I’m starting Part 1 of a series on running shoes. See ya tomorrow!
Question of the Day: What kind of sneakers do you run or exercise in? I now take this sneaker business very seriously!