METRIC MONDAY: Let’s talk about footwear
Another week, another #MetricMonday!
Metric Monday sees us take an in-depth look at a range of metrics that impact your running, one by one, detailing their importance, what they mean, and how understanding and working to improve on each metric can help you in your running performance.
By understanding and working on these metrics for those crucial, performance-boosting marginal gains, you can improve on the key aspects of your form and technique and become a consistently better runner.
This week, we’re taking a look at why analysing your footwear is of great importance to your running because, well, a good pair of shoes can make all the difference.
Believe it or not, but shoes are pretty important to your running. Who knew, right?
Having the right pair of shoes will elevate your running performance and help you perform to your best.
While most of your running will be dictated by your muscles, joints and breathing, your choice in footwear can make you feel great and protect the levels of stress placed on your feet.
You’ll find a host of different aspects of running footwear to get lost in, be it neutral, stability or motion control, elevated heel or zero-drop, and minimalist or maximalist — there really is a lot to consider when going running shoe shopping.
Do running shoes matter?
It’s fairly to get lost in conversations about your favourite running shoe brands, designs and aesthetics, and the specific catches of each footwear released. The truth is that really, a lot of those aspects aren’t important, nor will they change too much about your running.
In truth, there’s not really one ‘best’ running shoe on the market. It’s going to be down to what feels right to you for your running style.
That’s why what really matters when it comes to sorting out your footwear, it’s best to ensure you’re picking the right shoe for you based on your own preferences, such as the type of running you do, the right type of fit for that style, and how susceptible you are to particular injuries which your choice in footwear can potentially help to prevent.
What to know when buying running shoes
First things first, make sure you’re purchasing actual running shoes – not sneakers or trainers. There are similarities in style and appearance, but running shoes are purposely created with specific technology in-built to help aid runners’ performances, so simply wearing casual footwear instead could put you at risk by not having the correct support, while also not helping to maximise your performance.
You’re also going to need to have the right fit if you really want your shoes to have the desired impact on your running and stave off any potential injuries. The best way to do this is to have a gait analysis performed, to really make sure you know that you’re getting the best bang for your buck. Most running footwear stores will offer gait analyses for you, so be sure to take full advantage of that before splashing the cash.
Ideally, you’re best trying on new shoes at the end of the day, as your feet swell as the day goes on, meaning they’ll be at their most accurate by that point. Make sure that your feet have enough room to spread out (roughly around one thumb’s width), there’s no tight squeeze or slipping movement inside the shoe, and that the width sits nicely with your feet. If you tick all those boxes, then you’ve got yourself the right shoe.
Of course, running shoes are designed to fit specific purposes – and when buying your running shoes, you should pick your footwear based upon what kind of running you want to do — be it an everyday running shoe, a pair for something more lightweight, or perhaps one that’s more durable for tougher conditions, like trail running.
Remember — the real key to getting the best running shoe is its comfortability. Your average pair should last you around 300–500 miles, so you’ll want something that can cope with that overall work and, more importantly, fits correctly and feels nice on your feet.
What does the science say?
Unsurprisingly, research backs up the notion that the brand of your running shoe is far less important than the mechanics it performs. That’s why, despite maybe liking a company’s aesthetic or particular product’s style, sticking with one brand over the details of what the shoes themselves can do is not always a very wise choice.
Notably, recent research has disproved the notion that footwear with ‘stability and motion control’ isn’t entirely effective against more neutral models, and that relying on these options as a solution to injury problems aren’t helping very much at all.
Instead of putting your faith in the ‘right pair’, you should instead work on your running form rather than relying on your shoes to do the work for you, as they can only aid you so far. If you fix your own mechanics instead, the shoes will serve you better — and your running will be more consistent and coherent regardless of the running footwear you wear.
That’s why thinking about your running metrics can have an influence on your choice of footwear. Having a gait analysis can help you understand your movement and form better, and allow you to see where you need to fix and improve your mechanics before buying snazzy shoes that claim to do it all for you instead.
How can STRIDESENSE help with footwear?
With our fitness tracker, STRIDESENSE, you can keep tabs on your running footwear and even compare your shoes to see which work better for you in your running by using our Shoerack feature.
The STRIDESENSE app offers a wardrobe-style feature to help you monitor the impact of your choice of footwear on your runs, allowing you to track your mileage in each pair and monitor when a replacement is due.
There is no specific score for this metric, however, the direct comparison feature in-app allows you to measure which footwear works best for you in your performances.
Find out more about STRIDESENSE over on our website: attisfitness.co.uk