Choosing running shoes a science, not fashion

2019-05-24 14:52
Poobie Naidoo explains how choosing the right pair of running shoes has become technically advanced. PHOTO: NOMPILO KUNENE

Poobie Naidoo explains how choosing the right pair of running shoes has become technically advanced. PHOTO: NOMPILO KUNENE

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With just 17 days left before the much-anticipated Comrades Marathon race, experts say choosing the right pair of running shoes is paramount.

According to the Comrades Marathon Association (CMA), the most common brand of running shoes preferred by 9 056 athletes participating in the race this year is Asics, followed by Nike with 4 953 runners and then New Balance with 3 020 runners using the brand this year.

Former chairperson of the Maritzburg City Athletics Association, Mlungisi Wosiyane, who is also a seasoned athlete, said the biggest mistake an athlete can make is walking into a sports shop and picking up what they think is a pair of the most attractive running shoes without a having done a proper assessment to determine what shoes to buy.

“It’s important that your feet have proper support and cushioning to prevent joint injuries. Because our weights and heights are not the same, we need shoes that will be able to properly support each person’s body weight index (BMI). If a person is bigger or heavier, they will need more support to prevent friction on their knee and ankle joints,” he said.

Wosiyane said the different running styles, neutral pronation or overpronation, are what helps determine the type of shoes needed. He said pronation was how your foot lands on the ground when you’re running. Some people’s feet tilt in a certain direction, some land on the front of the foot while some land on their heels.

“This determines where about on your foot you need support to balance out your BMI.

“I recommend that athletes go to professional sport shops where an assessment is done to determine what kind of support is required for your feet. There’s 17 days left until the Comrades Marathon. You cannot buy new shoes now for race day. You must have been training in your running shoes for at least three months before a big race.

“For a big race like Comrades, where you spend the whole day on the road, you’d need running shoes that have become used to your feet. If you buy new running shoes at the last minute you’ll end up with blisters, you will have a bad race and might even not be able to finish the race,” said Woyisane.

Poobie Naidoo, of Poobie Naidoo Sports Wholesalers, who has also run several Comrades, said the list of the list of most common shoes issued by Comrades matched the shoe popularity at his store.

Naidoo said when an athlete visits the store to purchase running shoes to use for long-distance races, such as the Comrades, it is imperative that they conduct a foot analysis to determine what kind of shoe the runner needs.

“We put the runner on a treadmill, and we take a short video of how their feet land. After analysing the video, we can determine the runner’s pronation and can recommend the proper pair of shoes,” he said.

Naidoo said they were not committed to any particular brand and that they recommend running shoes based on an athlete’s running style.

The prices of the common running shoe brands preferred by Comrades participants range from R1 200 to as much as R2 600 a pair.

Naidoo said Asics running shoes were the most popular brand because they are one of the most technically advanced shoe brands which focused more on customised comfort rather than their appearance.

Naidoo said his store was one of the first stores in South Africa to introduce the analysis foot system. The store also has a 50-metre indoor race track inside the store that runners can use to decide on their ideal running shoes.

Naidoo also explained that most running shoes are not designed to look good but rather to serve a certain purpose.

“Some shoes have gel in them to give more support on certain parts of the shoes. Some shoes have air in them, you know how you’ll get Nike Air, there’s actually air in the shoe for a certain purpose and if the sole of the shoe gets punctured it damages the entire shoe. Most shoes have reflectors on them which are placed as if they are a design, but they actually serve an important purpose,” explained Naidoo.

Comrades Marathon spokesperson Delaine Cools said they don’t prescribe what running shoes runners should run in. She also advised runners to run in the shoes they have been training in to avoid blisters and injuries.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  comrades marathon
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