Running Requires the Right Equipment AKA Shoes

General guide on how to find the right running shoe.

Recently I decided to get into distance running to help my stamina and because I've always wanted to run a marathon. When I was younger I used to run about 3.5 miles per day five days a week. I would run fancy care free without any worries and did it as part of my training schedule as I was competing in Tae Kwon Do tournaments on a regular basis. As I am still in great shape and only a decade has passed since I last got into running, I figured I could get just jump right back in. WRONG!

Within the first week I was running 4 miles per day at a pretty good clip but then I began to experience pain on the outside of my right knee. I tried to just push through it but the pain became so intense that after a couple more runs, I just couldn't do it anymore. I was starting to limp when I walked and had a horrifying feeling that I did something to my ACL.

A couple of days later I was at my friend's house and his wife noticed me limping. I told her what happened and she then opened my eyes as to what the problem was. I was not running with the proper pair of shoes. I couldn't see how that would make a difference but I took her word for it as she is an avid runner with many full marathons under her belt. She then gave me some magazines and other info to help me determine which shoes to get. As for my bum knee, ends up it was a classic case of Iliotibial Band Syndrome.

According to the September 2019 issue of Runners World magazine, an iliotibial band (ITB) is connective tissue that runs from your hip to your knee. When the band is tight it causes friction and thusly pain. Now there is a band I can buy that goes just above the knee to help with the problem, but if I had the right shoes in the first place, I probably wouldn't have stumbled into the problem. But how do you know what kind of shoe is right for you?

I will again refer to the September 2019 issue of Runners World magazine. Pronation is how the body dissipates shock by rolling the foot inward or pronating. Too much or too little pronation can result in injuries. While you can't change the way you pronate, the proper shoe will help you with your biomechanics. In the magazine, they show you how to do what is called the wet test. Simply dip the bottom of your foot in water and step on a paper bag and look at the imprint your foot leaves behind. If your arches are low (flat foot) you overpoanate and your foot is tending to roll inward too much when you run. If you have normal looking arches then your foot is rolling in at about 15 degrees, which is the standard for running. If your arches look high this means you underpronate and your foot does not roll inward enough after the outside of the heel lands and this forces impact on the outer part of the foot.

Runners that overpornate (low arches) should look for shoes that are for motion control or stability. Runners with normal pronation can usually wear any good running shoe. Runners that underproanate (high arches) need neutral-cushioned shoes. You can go to your local specialty running shop and ask someone there to show you the selection of whatever shoe you need. You will be surprised the variety of shoes that are available. You can also visit runnersworld.com/awards and watch a video on some award wining shoes for all categories.

So get out and run. It is healthy and fun too. But if you think you can just go get any old pair of shoes and run properly, you need to think again. I compare having the proper shoes to having a car. Any car that runs will take me from A to B even if it has no AC, ripped seats and a broken radio. But I'd rather get there in the car that has leather seats, a working air conditioner and a nice stereo. Sure the nicer car costs more as do the nicer running shoes, but when you get right down to it, comfort is worth it.