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Easier To Run - Especially With the Right Stuff

by Marisella Queen, DPT, CLT

If the Susan G Komen 3-Day or a ½ or full marathon is on your bucket list of fitness goals, there are a few things you’ll need to consider to have a successful and fun experience. For starters, you’ll need a pair of well-fitted running shoes, breathable, moisture wicking clothing, a flexibility program, a core strengthening program and a great attitude. In this two part series we will start with the gear and next week look at the flexibility and strengthening programs.

The gear.

 Running is a relatively inexpensive sport to get involved with. Your major expense comes from your footwear, and how any experienced runner worth their salt will tell you do NOT cheat your feet. Buying the right shoes can be the difference between enjoying the process and asking your friends to “slap you upside the head if you ever even think about doing that again!”
  

Shoes

Whether you are new to running or a seasoned veteran, you may wonder, “how hard could buying a pair of running shoes possibly be?” Once you enter your local shoe store that specializes in running, the answer becomes clear - VERY.  Due to the wide variety of brands, fit, function and degrees of support, correction/control and cushion available on the market today finding the right shoe for you can feel overwhelming!  Let's see if we can help you out.

  

With regards to fit, the best method is to find a shoe where the ball of your foot at the widest point is in line with the widest part of the shoe. To determine the correct length, you should have at least a half an inch (half the width of your thumb is also a good measure) in order to give your toes sufficient room. A shoe that is too short will result in bruised toenails and a painful run. As for width, when you are standing in the shoe, your foot should rest gently against the sides of the shoe, but should not be jammed up against the sides or not touching them at all. Your toes should be able to wiggle comfortably and not feel pinched from the sides.

To find the right shoe from a technical construction point of view, there are 3 main categories to consider:
     1. Cushioning is best for those with a neutral foot type
     2. Stability is best for those that pronate slightly
     3. Motion Control is best for those that have increased motion in the foot.
Of course all of these categories have varying degrees across brands and between styles within the brands. Confused yet? If so, it would be a good idea to start with a good biomechanical evaluation done by a PT to evaluate your foot and determine what category would work best for you. Some running specific stores may also be able to provide this service.
  

Socks

Finding the right pair of socks for you can mean the difference between feet so blistered they resemble something from a Wes Cravens’ horror movie and the feet you’ve come to know and love. Remember there are two things that cause blisters: water (aka sweat) and friction. In the fight against blisters, avoid 100% cotton socks. Cotton does not wick the water away and can create an environment where not only blisters, but fungus can thrive (athlete’s foot anyone?).  Instead, choose a sock that is either all synthetic or one that is a natural fiber and synthetic blend.   If you really like the “touch, the feel of cotton,” then look for one that is blended with about 15% of a synthetic fiber like Coolmax, polyester or nylon.   Some socks, like Injinji and Wright are also constructed to reduce the amount of friction the foot experiences, lowering your risk of blisters even further. During your training, try out several different brands and styles to find out before race day which ones work best for you. Who knew there was so much information on socks?!
  

Clothing

There are many varieties of moisture wicking shirts, shorts and pants. The best option is to speak with an expert at your local running or fitness store, and try a variety of different options on to figure out what is most comfortable to you. Remember, if it isn’t comfortable in the dressing room, it isn’t going to magically become comfortable when you hit the streets.

Well, that does it for the gear. You should be looking good and feeling great as you are On the Road Again. Tune in next week and we’ll discuss a stretching program and core strengthening that will keep you injury free. Until then, keep on running!
  
 



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