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The Running Shoe Debate

March 24, 2009

asics2140You may have noticed a story circulatingf recently about research done in NSW that shows that training shoes supposedly make very little difference to your feet, particularly with injuries.  A study found there was no evidence to support the belief that some specially-designed trainers can prevent injuries or improve performance. Experts at the University of Newcastle in New South Wales, Australia, made the claim after analysing 60 years of medical literature.

I am no scientist, but I am a runner who has racked up over 7000km in the last 5 years.  My personal experience contradicts these findings.  My advice is to listen more to experienced runners than to this research, otherwise it could cost you in injuries and shorten your running life.  Here’s why:

1.  Logic tells me that it is better to have cushioning underfoot when running than not.  Duh!  Don’t let anyone in a white coat tell me any different.

2.  When I first started running I didn’t know about forefoot cushioning or anything like that.  I bought the cheapest trainers I could without looking totally cheapskate.  I then wore those trainers until there was hardly any sole left.  Then I started running on them and got very sore knees for the first time in my life.  I bought a ‘proper’ pair of trainers with forefoot cushioning (Asics) and after my first run my knee pain stopped.

3.  As an ultra distance runner I go through an average of 3 pairs of training shoes a year, changing them at 800km.  If I didn’t have well cushioned shoes with other features like stabilisation and the quality of the inner, life would be VERY difficult for me.

4.  I do run barefoot when I can, and I also walk around in thongs so that my feet don’t get lazy.  However, when its time to hit the road I’d rather have a good pair of trainers than a cheap, hard pair and try and kid myself that its scientifically proven that they are just as good as an expensive pair.

5.  Bad trainers give me blisters.

6.  Looking forward to your next pair of trainers is an essential part of training and competing and the little rewards you set yourself for all that hard work!

Feel free to add your reasons for wwearing good shoes or show your support for these findings.

As for me, my new pair of Asics Gt2140’s are waiting in my wardrobe ready for my existing pair to be retired.  The Empirical evidence is overwhelming for me, and I’m sticking with good shoes despite the expense.  Sometimes the cliche is true: you get what you pay for”.

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