Editor's Note: George Frazier, manager at CentreTown Fitness in Wheeling, and his staff will be providing a series of training articles leading up to the 38th annual Ogden Newspapers Half Marathon Classic, scheduled for May 24 in Wheeling. Dawn Ann Dean, is a trainer at CentreTown Fitness.
The old saying, "When you look good, you feel good," applies to running, too. Professional runners spend thousands of dollars annually on performance gear and apparel to enhance their race day outcomes. What can novice fitness enthusiasts, amateurs, or ready-to-turn-pro runners learn from the professionals to perfect their race day shoe attire and finish line success? Here are 10-tips to take advantage of now, to avoid the hard knocks shoe lessons learned over decades of running.
Lesson #1: BUY THE RIGHT SHOES. A runner's shoe is the most important performance item. To purchase the correct pair of running shoes, runners must seek a professional running store with a trained and knowledgeable staff. In the Tri-State area, I recommend the Runner's Connection in Bellaire, The Hole 'N Run in Wheeling, the Finish Line in the Ohio Valley Mall and Swan's Sports Shop in St. Clairsville. These running stores specialize in meeting your unique training and race day footwear needs. The staff members will take a complete assessment of your running status and feet health that may include: gait analysis, footprint tests, supination and pronation analysis and neutral runner recommendations.
Lesson #2: BUY TWO PAIRS OF SHOES. A good rule of thumb is to buy two pairs of the same training/race-day running shoes. This allows the runner to alternate each pair of shoes per run to increase their longevity, permit sole decompression and decrease the financial investment over time.
Lesson # 3: RUNNING SHOES ARE FOR RUNNING. Another rule of thumb is to only wear your shoes for running and avoid casual wear in between runs. Runners can select from a variety of shoes designed for trail, road, in-door/outdoor track, water submersion and post-workout. Purchasing a post-workout shoe alleviates this dilemma, and prolongs the longevity of the running shoes.
Lesson #4: BLACK TOENAILS ARE NOT COOL. The shoe length should allow space for the runner's own thumbnail from the toe box. A running shoe should allow room for the feet to naturally swell over longer training and racing distances. It should not be popularized to be a member of the post-race, black or lost toe nail club. This mid-to-post-race experience is the direct result of an improperly fitted running shoe. Another running shoe purchase misconception is that a tighter running shoe makes an individual run faster. The only guaranteed outcomes from this misconception are deformed or injured feet.
Lesson #5: OLD RUNNING SHOES PROVIDE VALUABLE INSIGHT. When considering buying new running shoes, take your old pair of running shoes with you. General wear patterns in the former running shoe, especially the heel area, can assist a running apparel staff member with a successful, comprehensive needs analysis to ensure the most appropriate shoe selection and fit.
Lesson #6: PROPER LACING ENSURES A PROPER FIT. When lacing a running shoe, it is important to center the shoe tongue and maintain a centered lacing system and knot. Often, runners will draw the laces too tightly at the top of the shoe, while leaving a wide, looser, base lacing effort. This can cause anterior foot and shin pain over a prolonged time period. Lace running shoes balanced from the base to the top of the shoe in width and pressure, upon tying and knotting. A double-knotted lace will ensure minimized issues with untied race day shoelaces.
Lesson #7: NEW SHOES SABOTAGE RACE DAY SUCCESS. To avoid race day blisters and generalized aches and pains, do not wear a brand new pair of running shoes. Break your new shoes in by wearing them a minimum of 30 consecutive alternate days of running. Race day shoe surprises are no fun, unless you are smiling crossing the finish line in a tried and true pair.
Lesson #8: COLORED RUNNING SHOES ARE PREFERRED. Coordinating the shoe color with the race day performance wear is a runner's earned preference. Colored and patterned running shoes are preferred to deflect and camouflage the road, track or trail cinders and dirt. Runners will get longer wear out of colored and patterned shoes. White running shoes look great, until the first training or race day weather challenge of rain, snow, or mud.
LESSON #9: LEAVE YOUR FAD RUNNING SHOES AT HOME. Running shoes are designed to benefit runners. Walking shoes are designed to meet a walker's needs. Minimalist shoes were designed to maximize a near barefoot running experience, and have been found to benefit 6-mile or less training or race day distances. Depending on a runner's weight and stature, shoe selection is very important. Runners who weigh 140 pounds or less and are small-medium statured can use a minimalist shoe well. Heavier built or long distance runners tend to benefit from a thicker, waffle shaped shoe sole that absorbs the compression wear better. On training or race days, leave your fad running shoes at home. These include trendy about-town toe shoes.
LESSON #10: THE PERFECT MATCH - RUNNING SOCKS. Looking for a quick way to enhance your training or race day shoe performance? Consider compression wear knee highs for a therapeutic, peripheral circulation and muscular massage or select a forefoot and heel strike padded running sock to absorb compression impact. Always train pre-race in the sock and shoe combination you have chosen. It may take several trials of sock and shoe combinations before you establish the perfect race day match.