Running is a pretty simple activity. Throw on a pair of shorts, a shirt (sometimes a jacket), socks and shoes and then away you go. The right foot gear and running accessories, though, can make the difference between an enjoyable run and a miserable one. It can even make the difference between injury and non-injury.
This article will review the importance of selecting appropriate foot gear and running accessories to minimize injury risk and to maximize running enjoyment.
First and foremost, a running shoe needs to be designed for the surface on which it is going to be used. For the purpose of this article, we’ll focus mainly on road and trail surfaces and it can be challenging to find a shoe that works well on both.
A running shoe designed for road use will typically have more cushioning than its trail counterparts and will have an outsole that is much smoother. As well, the upper of the shoe will often be made of lighter weight materials.
A running shoe designed for trail use will often be firmer through the midsole and can have extra materials inserted between the outsole and the midsole. The extra firmness and layered materials act to protect the foot from rocks, roots, and other sharp debris found on trails. The outsole will be much more aggressive to provide traction on loose and slippery surfaces and the upper can have layered materials to provide abrasion resistance.
Regardless of the style of shoe that you are being fit with, it is especially important to be fit with a shoe that is designed to suit your foot mechanics and running style.
The insole of the shoe is the direct contact point between your foot and the shoe. The insole that comes with a shoe will be a flat, flexible layer of foam that is designed to provide your foot a bit of cushioned comfort inside the shoe. For a large number of people this foam layer, paired with a well fit pair of shoes, is sufficient to provide comfort and minimize injury risk.
For many though, the foot needs a little more structure to either distribute pressures or to provide support to different areas of the foot. There are times when a custom made foot orthotic is the best way to go and for those that do not require a custom design there are many over the counter options available.
One of the most overlooked areas of running comfort is socks. When running, your feet will get wet. You sweat, you run through puddles, you cut across fields with wet grass…the list goes on. Accept the fact that your feet are going to get wet and then prepare for it. Technical running socks are made from synthetic or natural fibres that do not absorb water, pull moisture away from the foot, and keep the feet warmer even when wet. Merino wool is by far one of our favourite sock materials for all these reasons.
As your runs get longer and the temperature increases you need to start thinking about carrying water during your runs. There are many ways to do this, ranging from hand held devices, to belts, to form fitting running vests. Typical backpacks do not work well for running as they bounce around and become uncomfortable. When shopping for hydration accessories consider how many other supplies you will need to carry, such as a phone, keys, spare jacket, food, etc, and buy something that will suit your needs. It is often advantageous to have a couple different hydration accessories so you can use the one most appropriate for any particular run.
Kintec in Salmon Arm is your local running destination. We have the expertise and products to get you running safely and to allow you to get out and enjoy your run. Come in and visit us on Hudson Ave.