It’s Probably Not the Shoes

321251_10150370628440056_2029270184_nI have a thing for shoes.

I know, guys aren’t supposed to be into that sort of stuff, but I don’t care. I like shoes. All different kinds of shoes. Especially running shoes.

After college I made the switch from football player to endurance athlete. It was a rude awaking. Damn, it hurts just thinking about it. I went from chasing down running backs to running really, REALLY far. Like Half-IRONMAN far. Like 50K far, and then further.

There’s something else you should know about me…

…I have a goofy foot. It’s my dad’s fault. Our right foot turns out a little and causes that same foot to pronate, viciously. As a result, when I first started running for real, every stride I took was research. Where the hell are my feet going? How am landing? What if I do this? Every training run was an experiment. How about these insoles, arch supports, motion control shoes, minimalist shoes. The list goes on and on.

If you’re anything like me you’ve read Born to Run. You’ve explored pose running. You devoted way too much time watching YouTube videos about stride frequency and body positioning. You’ve also spent more money than you’d like to admit on running accessories. I know I have.

But, we did this to get better. We were under the assumption that all of these technical tweaks and altering our technique would make us faster, help us go further, or alleviate pain. Because that makes sense, right?

Burden of proof

Well it makes sense to me. Trouble is “no large-scale studies have uncovered a strong link between running shoe type and running injuries, and there’s no evidence that anything other than weight will affect your ability to run fast, as long as you remember that lighter is almost always better.”

In an article that appeared on Outside Online, this fact was made abundantly clear. The article cites a “five-month-long randomized, controlled study of 247 runners that uncovered no difference in injury rates between runners who wore soft-soled shoes and those who wore firm-soled shoes.” Outside even points to other research that says stability shoes don’t work. Put simply, extra cushioning and motion-control shoes are “not evidence-based.”

Trust in science, not the shoes

The funny thing about science is that it remains true whether we like it or not, whether we believe it or not. Just because we think we like or think we need fancy gear and expensive shoes it doesn’t mean that they actually work.

What’s the alternative you ask? What does work?

For all you runners out there, losing weight and maintaining a balanced training plan will go a long way towards improving form and preventing injury. If you weigh less, there’s less pounding and pressure on your body. When you monitor your mileage and intensity you can ease your body into more difficult workouts, make progress over time, and back off when if you’re overly ambitious.

Because as Outside Online reminds us; “ There’s simply not much evidence that you need to worry about shoes.”

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