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Running 101

Friday, June 07, 2013

As with all things that begins with feet, the first thing you need is a good pair of shoes. What people don't realize is that with the wrong pair of shoes, you are more than likely to experience foot injury. Running shoes are not basketball shoes, it is important that you start out right. Please do not just grab any pair of shoes from Big 5 or Walmart/Target. Choosing a pair of shoes that protects you from injury has more science than that. It all starts with your feet.

Our feet are different. Some of you have flat feet, wide feet, large feet, small feet. And the arch of our feet determines the level of pronation that affects our running. There are 3 types of pronation: normal pronation, over pronation, and under pronation (supination). Those of you who are flat footed usually would overpronate, so what you need is a pair of motion-control shoes that controls pronation. Other who have high-arched feet usually underpronate (supination), so what you need is a pair of neutral-cushioned shoes that adjust to a more natural foot motion.

The goal that we want to achieve is to find a pair of shoes that corrects the structure of your feet into the safe range. But the unsung hero in this conquest is what goes inside your shoes, the insoles. You know, the stuffs that your feet make their first direct contact with.

The way custom insoles work is that they are heated to be flexible and then pressed onto the bottom of your feet to offer a first level of arch normalization. People with very flat feet or very high arches are more prone to plantar faciitis, a common injury to the arch tendon of your foot. Having the proper footwear protection can allieviate this problem. The custom insoles I have are from Road Runner Sports. Their Shoe Dog rep had me running on a treadmill for 60 seconds to observe the pronation of my feet and then I was taken to stand on a thermal machine that takes a 3D images of my feet to determine my arch level. Their system takes all of these data element into calculation to determine the type of shoes that is best for me. Out of 300 pair of shoes in the store, there were only 2 pair of shoes that are best suited for me: One was a pair of Brooks and the other was the Nike Lunarglide 3. It took just one time trying the Lunarglides on and my feet immediately knew that they have found their match. It is as if love was in the air. Didn't I tell you that the proper running gear has more to do with science?

Now I must tell you, the custom insoles are not cheap. They cost $80. And the pair of Nike cost me $110. But let me tell you one thing: In life, there is a value in everything, and you should never treat yourself cheap when it comes to your health. This is you investing back into yourself, it is for the love of the sport and for your own fitness persona.

What you need next is a couple pair of moisture wicking socks. Remember that moisture wicking socks are not your normal 100% cotton socks. Moisture wicking socks are specifically designed to keep your feet dry and comfortable when you run. They are not cheap either, but they are the athletes' preference when we do the distance. As for me, I swear by Smart Wool toe socks when I participate in a marathon. And after a couple rounds of blisters in trainings, my feet told me that they also prefer toe socks to do the long distance. Amazing what your feet can say to you isn't it?

Looks like we covered the basics. Next time, I will discuss about the mechanics of running and how to not heel strike, a common injury for beginning runners. We have just covered the first step, there are topics about training, gearing, sports watch, nutrition, music, stretching and injuries, which I will discuss later. Remember, it's a marathon, not a sprint!

Happy feet from Natosports!