Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Running shoes...

Interesting (for me!) article in the Daily Mail on running shoes:
The painful truth about trainers: Are expensive running shoes a waste of money?
Now, in my experience the chances that anything printed in a daily newspaper is actually reliable/true/not-misleading is about half and half. Often of the time you don't need to think too hard to see that the reporter's pushing an angle and there could be other interpretations. Those other interpretations also may or may not be true... and so you may have wasted your time reading the story. You learnt more about the reporter than the actual subject of the story - and presumably you didn't really care too much about the reporter's thoughts unless he's a close friend. Hmmm.

This particular story's quite tempting to believe. About a fortnight after changing my running shoes like a good boy after 500 miles (well, perhaps I was a bit naughty, I think I may have gone up to 700), I got a double (or perhaps triple - not sure what's related to what) injury that's now entering its fifth week. The advertising blurb is that your running shoes have lost so much of their shock-absorption by this point that you need to change them...

When I ran in the UK for six months I ran 100% of the time on hard tarmac, with no shock absorbers. This was in proper running shoes. I then got a shin splint. I've run for just over six months here, on a mixture of soft and hard (perhaps about equal proportions), with shock absorbers. And got injured again. Perhaps the new shoes subtly altered my running style and brought on the injury. But then on the other hand, should that not be compensated for by all that expensive anti-injury technology they're supposed to have ... ?

One trial does not a case study make. But I do find myself wondering how much more or less injured I'd be if I simply ran in cheap plimsolls. The article above insists on a point I've often pondered when forking out for running shoes (4th or 5th pair now?) - how come all those marathoners of yesteryear pounded the roads in their pre-modern footwear? If modern runners seem to get injured every 6 months, did they get injured every 3? Seems unlikely. On the other hand I don't know what I'd do if the article above was right - retraining yourself in a new running style based on different dynamics seems something hard to do and likely to bring on more injuries in the period whilst you adjust!

I find the people who say that stretching-off actually results in more injuries hard to take. When I first started running I learned to do the full range of stretches because I seemed to get niggles and pulls in whatever muscle I'd forgotten to stretch today! So the inclusion of that alleged fact in the article above makes me more sceptical about the rest. Another sceptical question... whilst gullible amateurs like me might fork out for useless junk, surely the top professionals, who've made it their goal to actually win wouldn't be bothering with expensive trainers if they (the people who've got something substantial staked on it) didn't believe they worked? Shouldn't we be seeing all the top runners just using green Dunlops of yesteryear if they were the things that worked?

Hmmm. Dunno. What think you, reader? Did I bore you with running-related droning and you didn't actually make it this far?

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