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Get the most out of your running shoes by knowing how to select the best ones and the replacement timeline for them

When it comes to running, the shoe you choose will greatly impact your body and running technique. Learn what type of shoe will benefit you most in the long run by using this article for how to pick out your running shoes, what type best suits you, and when it’s time for a new pair!

written by Dr. Kimberly Davis, RunLab™

HOW OFTEN DO I NEED NEW SHOES?

Probably more often than you think.  Even if you have managed to achieve sound biomechanics (rare), are extremely lightweight, and a low mileage runner, it is still important to remember that your shoes have a shelf life. Those sweet (rad?) neon and splatter-paint Nike knock-offs you bought for $39.99 from TinyHandsTinyPrices.com may look really cool, but they probably aren’t doing you any favors from an injury prevention standpoint.  Most people wait until they start to notice nagging pains before they think to replace their shoes, instead of doing it before the issues pop up.

EVA foam begins to harden after 1-1.5 years, meaning that when you buy older model shoes on clearance or online it is possible for them to be “worn out” before you ever run in them. Click To Tweet

Most runners should replace their shoes every 300-500 miles depending on the weight of the runner and the efficiency of their mechanics. This means every 5-6 months for the average runner and every 2-3 months for the higher mileage runner. This is assuming you ONLY RUN in your running shoes, not wear them to work or to the gym. 

WHAT ABOUT ROTATING THROUGH SHOES?

I am a huge fan of this concept. Not only does it allow your shoes time between runs for the foam to “bounce back”, but different types of shoes give you different feedback from the ground, and in my opinion, this is always a good thing from a neuromuscular standpoint. Your body adapts very quickly to a learned stimulus. By giving it different signals, you are forcing it to constantly respond to outside stimuli instead of just “going through the motions” with learned patterns. I personally rotate through several shoes depending on the type of run and how fatigued my body is, and I find it works very well for keeping my body engaged with what is going on between my foot and the ground. If you would like some guidance stop by and chat. Everyone that works at RunLab™ is a dedicated runner and we love talking shop.

which running shoes are best for you?

HOW DO I CHOOSE THE RIGHT SHOE(S)?

If you answered: “Well obviously, I choose the shoes that will match my tutu for the Goofy Challenge”, then you, my friend, could probably get a job in a number of running retail stores…but I digress.

   Choosing the right shoe is much more complicated than most people think IF you have suboptimal structure, range-of-motion, and/or biomechanics, which most non-elite runners (and even many elite runners) are challenged with.  “How do I choose the right shoe” is the eternal question that every runner (and shoe company, and retail employee) wishes had an easy answer, but at the end of the day…it doesn’t. At RunLab™, we feel very strongly that it isn’t so much about the shoe as it is about the foot that inhabits the shoe (and the knee and the hip and the body that live above the foot and for some reason get left out of most types of “gait analysis” done in shoe stores).  Most elite runners with sound biomechanics can run in almost anything they want to run in within a certain range, typically avoiding extreme stability in most cases. They aren’t great runners BECAUSE of the shoe. They are great runners because of the work they have put in on the strength side, and often because of the genetic gift they have been given on the structural side. Back to the question. First and foremost, if a shoe doesn’t feel good in the store, it won’t feel any better when you run. 

STOP CHOOSING SHOES BASED ON COLOR!

Base your choice on what works with your structure, goals, foot shape, etc. If you fall outside the “norm” structurally, meaning you have bunions, very high or very flat arches, knock knees, are bowlegged, have retroverted or anteverted hips, super tight hamstrings or calves, etc., or if you have a history of injuries, or trouble finding shoes that work for you, get a movement analysis & gait evaluation. And I don’t mean the kind where somebody watches you run for 10 seconds down the street, looks at your foot/ankle, and then starts talking about how much or little you pronate or supinate.  That isn’t a gait evaluation folks! A good gait evaluation should look at your entire body from multiple angles, ideally, both in shoes and barefoot, and should factor in what is happening with your unique structure, range-of-motion, goals, strengths, and limiters. This is not something most people have expertise in doing well.

   Think of it in bike-fit terms, you can get your saddle height adjusted, OR you can go through a lengthy process that looks at all the necessary angles and takes your individual needs, foot position, femur length, tibia length, reach, etc. into account. Both of these things might be referred to as a “bike-fit” but one of them clearly takes your unique structural and functional makeup into account and requires expertise in biomechanics to really fit you properly.  Movement analysis and gait evaluation is the same way. Remember: understanding what could go wrong down the road through thoroughly understanding your mechanics is a heck of a lot cheaper than the rehab to fix the issue when you break. Just sayin’…

IN SUMMARY:

  • Replace your shoes early and often, more often the higher you go in mileage and before you start to notice pain.
  • Stop picking shoes based on color!  Seriously. Did I really need to say that?  Yes. Yes, I did. Stop doing it.
  • Choose your shoe stores wisely, we can guide you if you need help.
  • When someone calls you a “pronator” or a “supinator” and then attempts to “fix” the issue with a shoe, this person doesn’t under biomechanics.  Be wary.
  • A Movement Analysis and Gait Evaluation looks at the whole body and doesn’t just take 30 seconds.  If you have structural or injury issues, it’s worth getting it done by experts (I might know some people!)
  • The shoes don’t fit if your heels slide, or if your toes are pinched.
  • If part of your foot is hanging over the sole of the shoe, it doesn’t fit.
  • If you hate the color…it still might fit!  See how you tried to forget what we talked about already?!

ABOUT DR. DAVIS   

Dr. Kimberly Davis

Dr. Kimberly Davis is the Founder & CEO of RunLab™, a Movement Analysis and Gait Evaluation company headquartered in Austin, Texas that provides runners anywhere in the country access to comprehensive gait evaluation services through www.runlab.us.

   Recognizing a lack of consistency and quality in gait analysis across the country, Dr. Davis launches RunLab.us in 2018 as a means for runners to access her industry-leading gait team from anywhere in the United States.

For more information about the RunLab™ team, please visit WWW.RUNLABAUSTIN.COM

For gait evaluation services outside the Austin area, please visit WWW.RUNLAB.US

Focus on the run now, reap the benefits later

The offseason is upon us. Before you focus on the run, take a few weeks to mentally and physically repair your engine. Kayaking on Town Lake, spending time with the family (who were neglected during a long triathlon season), and reading a book will allow you to recharge for the upcoming year.

Once you have had enough of family time and sitting around, it’s time to be smart and begin base training. The goal is to NOT become a “National Champion” by January. It is hard in Texas, with our beautiful winters, but some self-control will bring you to the end of the 2019 Texas Tri Series injury-free. With no tri burnout. Begin your training by laying out a goal race schedule for 2019 so you know your “plan.” It’s easier to not get lost when you have a map to guide you. Make sure to note the key races (1-2 per season) and add in a few specific training blocks around those events. From here you can begin to lay the running foundation that will help you achieve your goals!

The Running Foundation (using these 3 building blocks will guide you to a faster run split in 2019)

1) Train to your weakness, race to your strength

Recommended: Mark Verstegen’s Core Performance

Offseason is the time to evaluate any nagging pains or issues that came up during the season.  Getting back into the gym to build up your functional strength – not to build up a nice 6-pack.  The goal is to strengthen issues like a weak hamstring or stabilize a weaker core. A great book is Mark Verstegen’s Core Performance, which can help you plan out ways to gain flexibility and develop postural balance/strength. These things can give you an edge on the run. Develop a stretching routine and set a recovery protocol for workouts (smoothie, stretching, ice, massage). Commit to caring for your body so you can race faster!

2) Drill work and strides = ability to get going FAST

Yes, run drills are crucial to the run and developing the leg turnover needed to gain speed. Look at elite runners, their cadence is 90+. Commit to 1-2 days of drill work along with 6-8×100 meter strides to aid in the cadence adaptation. Run drills will also help build up leg tolerance through the jumps, skips, and bounding. This means fewer chances of injuries. (visit www.bobbymcgee.com for a great booklet on running drills)

Examples of run drills include:

         – skipping (various speeds, heights, movements)

         – one leg drill

         – karaoke

         – bounding

         – Russian soldier

         – butt kicks

         – leg swings

         – high knees

3) Sign up for a race

When focusing on the run, set a goal race, lke the

Add a goal race, like the Austin Marathon 5K, when focusing on the run during the offseason.

Instead of going for your typical track session during the week, move things around and sign up for a 5K or a 10K.  Two great options are the Austin Marathon 5K on Feb. 17th and the Cap10K on April 7th. Utilize this opportunity. This will hold you accountable to getting the quality work in and teach you to run fast. It opens your eyes to how to run and challenges you to develop your running quickly. The key is to be smart and not over race. Your friends won’t remember what you did in February! Another great opportunity is to attack the Greenbelt. Move to the softer surfaces at least once or twice a week if possible. Give your legs a break from the pavement, especially on recovery days.

Use these 3 tips to gain an edge during the run and enhance your running this offseason. Enjoy this winter’s journey!

Don’t allow this year’s training to disappear during the offseason

Offseason to a lot of triathletes means taking time off from October to March to help re-energize for the following season. Others focus on different sports to get out of the winter elements. The rest just simply take time off.  How can you train during the offseason and keep triathlon fun on a year-round basis?

The goal should be purposeful training — focus on a few key elements with your training.  A great place to start is working on your physiology and the changes you can make over the winter months.

During #triathlon offseason, two key components to altering your physiology include increasing power-to-weight ratio and improving your cardiovascular network. Click To Tweet

Some athletes start the tri season in February in good cardio shape, but have added some extra holiday weight. Some have gone to a few too many holiday parties. They’ve ignored the fact that they are going to rev things up next season and start from square one. It is best when your body weight doesn’t fluctuate up and down. Keeping it constant is best for your cardiovascular system.

Running

Continuing to run can help maintain body weight during the offseason.

Add a half marathon to your winter calendar and continue training in the offseason.

The best way to keep the weight off is to run, but not like Forest Gump! Have a plan to continue running by entering a half marathon in the early part of next year. There are two great events coming up: 3M Half Marathon and the Austin Marathon and Half Marathon. The key to improving your physiology and keeping the weight off is to work on your stride rate. This means faster, possibly shorter strides during your long runs to improve the cardiovascular development in your legs. Try to pick up the stride rate without increasing your pace per mile or effort. A faster stride rate will help you develop capillaries deeper in the muscle. This will help fuel the legs better and flush lactic acid quicker. A good 3-6 weeks of this technique will help you keep the weight off until its time to work on the strength building phase of your training plan. Maximizing your power-to-weight ratio will allow you to find greater efficiencies across all three sports in triathlon.

Swimming

In addition to working on a faster stride rate in running, there are other ways to increase the cardiovascular network using the other sports.  In swimming, you can incorporate longer, aerobic sets with shorter rest intervals. A good example would be 4-6 x 800s as a workout. Of course, you may say “how boring can that be?” So working on your technique during these sets is a must. Try taking a technique clinic to make sure you learn the proper forms of efficiency swimming.  Long sets with bad technique can set you back rather than move you forward.

Cycling

Cycling in the offseason can improve your cardiovascular system.

Cycling in the offseason can improve your cardiovascular system.

With regards to your cycling, keeping a heavy emphasis on high cadence work will also aid in increasing your cardiovascular network. This may keep you in smaller gears than you are used to and maintaining your cadence at 90+ rpms for 70% of the ride time. If you don’t have a cadence meter, a good substitute is to count one leg for 15 seconds and multiply by 4 to get your rpms. During the winter months, we find ourselves riding indoors and on a trainer more often. Focusing on high cadence in these indoor sessions will give more purpose to your training. Spin classes are a good place to work on this. However, using your own bike with a trainer is best as you keep your body position constant to how you will be riding on the road.

Setting goals and having a purpose for your offseason training will help you stay motivated and focused during the winter training.  Best of all, these few tips will help you have a much more successful racing season in 2019.

Kerrville Tri – New July Playlist

The days are getting longer and it is about time for a playlist refresh. We put together 1.5 hours of jammin’ tunes to keep you motivated while you move. Play from start to finish or pick and choose to add to your own playlist.

 

Is your body like a racecar?

Maybe you should think of your body as a racecar! For long-distance racing (swimming, biking, running), nutrition is the key to success. That is assuming you appropriately trained for the race and pace yourself based on your training. The biggest thing we see is the lack of knowledge around calories and the fear of not having enough salt. Cramping, bonking, blowing up, are all things we want to avoid. What causes them?

Cramping

Cramping is caused by overuse and lack of sodium. Cramping in a short-distance event is due to overuse and not the body’s lack of sodium. Cramping in a long-distance event can be due to sodium, but it can also be due to overuse. If it is due to lack of sodium, it will not be in one isolated area, like your calf. You will feel the cramping across the entire body. Once this happens, it is nearly impossible to recover during any mid-distance event.

Bonking

Caused by running out of fuel during a long-distance event. It is almost impossible to truly bonk during a short event (less than one hour).

Blowing up

Blowing up is the most common issue that most people confuse with the other two. Blowing up is caused by going too fast. Using your muscles at a level for which you did not train them will cause them to cramp up. If you can average 20 mph at your local TT of 15 miles, this does not mean you can hold this average for the bike of a half or full Ironman.

To keep it easy, you want to think of your body like a racecar. Your car needs three basic things to keep running: Gas, oil, and electricity. Click To Tweet

3 basic things the body needs to perform at a long distance event

The three things your body needs to perform during a long-distance event are water, calories, and sodium. Everyone’s body processes calories, water, and sodium at different rates. It is not possible to replace everything you burn in terms of calories, but the replacement of water and sodium while you slowly dig a calorie hole is the key to success.

Your body needs calories like a racecar needs gas.

Gas is like your calories. Calories are the fuel your body needs to run.

Gas is like your calories. This is the fuel your body needs to run.  Calories can come in the form of Clif Shot Energy Gels, Clif Bars, Clif Bloks, chews, breakfast, or any other food or liquid that has calories. Watch your sports drinks as they may have calories as well.

Oil is like your water. Water lubricates your joints and allows your engine to process and burn fuel.

Electricity is like your sodium. Sodium is what your body needs to allow its muscles to fire.

You can be low in these different areas, but being empty in these areas is what causes major trouble. The purpose of this analogy is to help people better understand what is going on with your body. Checking on properly identify nutrition issues and better keep your body running like a racecar.

Run softly you could take time off your run

As triathletes, it seems that the inherent beating our legs take while on training runs often leads to some of the most nagging and potentially severe injuries. That dreaded pain on the inside of a shin. The chronically inflamed IT band. A perpetually tight hamstring. The list goes on. Too many times we chalk this up as “part of the process.” What many athletes do not realize is that by applying a few subtle technique changes to running form, common injuries can be eradicated and running speed can be gained. By being quiet while you run you can achieve increased economy of movement; in other words, run softly.

run softly

Runner at the 2017 Kerrville Triathlon Festival (credit: Ed Sparks)

While on your next training run for the Kerrville Tri, leave the iPod at home and prepare to listen while you run softly. Listen to your gait. Is there a heavy sigh from the ground on every foot strike? Do you notice a shuffling sound similar to autumn foliage moving along at the pace of a breeze? If you are picking up on sounds that are more audible than not, you may need to work on your foot strike and run more softly.

When you run softly it allows your foot to strike the ground and transition from the initial contact This is often considered heel strike or a mid-foot strike, with less breaking force (ground reaction force). Click To Tweet

This means that less impact is transferred from this brief, but violent stop throughout your body. Think of a plane landing gently at an optimal angle. Now think of a plane landing that comes down a little hard and jolts the entire cabin. This is not entirely dissimilar to the jolt your body takes each time your foot lands. When coaches tell athletes to run with light feet, this is precisely what they are referring to.

On runs, occasionally think about foot strike and quick transition. As your heel comes in contact with the ground try to roll your foot forward to the mid-foot, then to the ball of your foot, and then to a strong, propulsive toe-off. Work on doing this seamlessly and without interruption. Another important key to this skill is never allowing heel strike to be forward of your knee. Your heel strike should occur directly under your knee and your knee should be directly beneath your center of gravity. Look down while in heel strike to mid-stance of your stride. At that point, you should see no more than the tips of your toes extending from beneath your knee. If you see more than just the tips, then you’re creating a greater ground reaction force and more resistance – increasing your risk for injury.

Like anything, running softly takes time to develop. Remind yourself to run softly because the impact can be huge. Click To Tweet