So you’ve started running, joined a running club and now you think it’s time to get some decent running shoes; but you are hearing all sorts of conflicting advice online and at the club; then there’s that “veteran” runner that every running club seems to have, that thinks they know everything there is to know about running shoes! Who do you listen to? We have decided to try and dispel the top five running shoe myths that we hear regularly, by giving you the facts and explaining why they are a myth.
1. There is a “best” running shoe
People new to running often assume the most expensive running shoes are the “best” running shoes; however in truth, there isn’t really any correlation with the price of a running shoe and it being “the best”. This is purely down to the fact that the best running shoe is the one that fits you the best and works in harmony with your biomechanics; irrespective of price. It’s true that very cheap running shoes are generally inferior, but above a certain price point the shoes are no better quality, they simply come with more features that can make them nicer to wear. The same applies to brands, many customers ask us “so what’s the best brand”, but again there is no best brand it’s really about finding the best shoe for your running style. Of course, some brands are better on certain attributes than other brands, but all brands have their pros and cons. So in terms of running shoe myths, this is one of the most common we encounter in the store.
Conclusion – There is no “best shoe”, the price has very little bearing on what’s best, there is only the best shoe at the time for you.
2. Running shoes are “trainers”
As we discussed in our recent blog article can I use running shoes for anything else, running shoes aren’t designed as general trainers, nor do such trainers exist. We frequently hear people referring to running shoes as general trainers and they are often confused as generic trainers; however, they are specifically designed for running and only running. This often leads to disappointment in their build quality as they are often being misused and therefore don’t hold up to the unfair treatment they are put through.
Conclusion – Look after your running shoes and they’ll look after you, remember they are only designed for running, you wouldn’t take a Ferrari off-roading!
3. That brand isn’t for me
All too often we hear runners say things like “I can only wear Adidas” or “aren’t so and so the most cushioning brand?” The truth is, that whilst there are some vague generalisations that hold some truth, every brand has different lasts (the shape around which the shoe is formed) within their range and every shoe within their range is different. Most of the brands now make their popular running models in different widths and they also all try to cater for most biomechanical types. Being such a competitive industry, no brand can afford to be labelled as “the wide brand” or “the stiff brand”. As a result, all of the brands have now addressed the stereotypes in their fits.
Brooks are a great example of this, they used to be a very wide brand, known for their highly corrective shoes. Now they have probably the most comprehensive range (biomechanically speaking) as well as tuning their 3 main lasts to fit more feet, they have introduced multiple widths in most models.
I know there’ll be runners out there that totally disagree, as they’ll say that they’ve tried 3 pairs of X brand and they always get problems and they never have any problems with their Y shoes; however unless you have tried every model from a certain brand then it’s not fair to say that brand isn’t for you.
You may have just happened to pick three of their models that don’t suit you, I, for example, know my biomechanics to a tee and out of the current range of 20 Mizuno road running models, I could only run in 2 of them! That’s only 10% of their range, so there’s a 90% chance of me picking the wrong shoe and blaming the brand; if I had then I would never have found my lovely Mizuno Wave Riders!
Conclusion – Although they say once burnt, twice shy. Try and keep an open mind, certainly don’t hold a lifelong grudge against a brand because they gave you blisters in the 1998 London marathon. Shoes change, brands change and people change!
4. Neutral runners are better
It seems like everyone wants to be able to wear neutral shoes! It’s true that there is more choice in the neutral category than any other; however, they certainly aren’t the best type of shoe by any means. Many runners also assume that neutral runners are “built better”, again this isn’t true. There is no scientific evidence that proves that your type of gait will influence your ability to run, your training background, body type and health will have a far greater impact on your natural running ability than simply your foot type.
Conclusion – So whilst it would probably be true that if a completely new runner went into a non-specialist sports shop and randomly picked a running shoe, they would have less chance of picking the wrong shoe than someone with more unique biomechanical needs. This is purely coincidental. I do agree though that neutral running shoes always seem to look nicer! Not that this should be part of your decision-making process!
5. The right shoe can make you faster
Ok, so this can be argued until the cows come home. Yes, it’s true that the right shoe can help to prevent injury and yes fewer injuries mean more and better training, but what we’re talking about here is a direct influence on your speed.
There is no magic shoe that can really make you run faster, yes some are lighter and yes some are bouncier than others, but the bottom line is that unless they could somehow augment your muscles, cardiovascular and respiratory systems; then they won’t really make you any faster. Racing shoes certainly help you get into the right frame of mind and yes they are noticeably lighter, but there is no evidence of improved times with them.
This also applies to “go faster” stripes!
Conclusion – Shoes don’t make you faster, your training and dedication do. Getting up early on Sunday morning for that 15 miler and skipping that dessert, those are the things that make you faster! Make sure you have your running shoes biomechanically fitted, yes, but then forget about the shoes and focus on your training.