Does the type of shoe affect a race?

Written for Yellow Ribbon Prison Run 2012 Race Preparation Articles

Shoes are the most important equipment to the modern day runner. In the past, people ran barefoot and had poor footwear. But now, shoe companies have created shoes with many functions and technology. (Whether this is good or bad is still largely debatable) 

There are several types of shoes in the market and you can be sure that the type of shoe you wear at the starting line will affect your performance. However, the shoe you race in should be the shoe you regularly run in and are used to. Never try any new products on the race day as your body will need time to adapt into it to prevent injuries.

Thus, if you have to race in a shoe that you train in, it is important to choose the right shoe and this is entirely dependent on the individual.

The choice of the shoe depends largely on your foot type and how much support your feet need.

1. Barefoot simulating shoes

These shoes have the least support and thus require the most time to adapt into. As the majority of us have been walking in fully supportive shoes since young, our feet are just not used to walking and running barefoot for a long duration and thus one needs to allow the body to adapt into running barefoot  very patiently. This process may take weeks or even months before you can safely run a race in it, bearing in mind that during a race you are more likely to push your body to its limit.

2. Cushioning shoes

These shoes are the next level from barefoot simulating shoes and encompass both racers and light weight training shoes. Racers are generally less supportive than light weight trainers and are meant to be very light so that energy is not used to lift the shoe off the ground but rather for going forward. Light weight trainers allow you to simulate racers during work outs but offer more support for the runner.

3. Stability shoes

Stability shoes offer the most support for runners who tend to pronate excessively. Pronation refers to the inward bending of the ankles and collapsing of the arches during stance phase of running. By simply looking at the medial aspect of the shoe, one can easily identify an area which is usually grey in colour that is made of a higher density material. The presence of this added support indicates that this is a stability shoe.

Before buying your shoe, go to a reputable running shop to have your foot type quickly screened by the sales assistant but bear in mind that this may not be 100 percent accurate. If you are prone to injuries, it may be worthwhile to visit a podiatrist who can customise an insole for you to put into your shoe of choice for added comfort and injury prevention.

Having said all this, it is still most important to allow your body to adapt to whatever new shoes or technology that you try at its own pace.

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