Pronation Nation

If you’re a runner, you’re probably picky about your sneakers – right? (…or at least I hope you’re picky about fit)

Like a lot of other runners, I’ve amassed a stockpile of sneakers in the last few years – but my obsession with these comfortable kicks has been a chronic addiction since the age of 16 after my mom came home from a local running store with these Mizuno sneakers – I still croon thinking of the perfect yellow/blue/black combination and sleek look.  Back in my small town in 2000, these were the pinnacle of cool – anyone who grew up in the 90s knows all too well the standard (and boring) Nike, Reebok and Adidas selections.  It always felt like you had at least 1 style in each brand to choose from (especially as a woman).

90s Running.jpg
Running in the 90s – a far cry from style – seriously function over form…

…now, sitting here on the floor after a so-called “Spring Cleaning”, it struck me that there are just so many sneaker designs, options, sizing selections and tailored to different feet types than ever before.

This is a godsend for a female athlete who, in addition to her sneaker addiction, is also blessed with a structural deficiency in both feet – we’re talking SUPER flat feet.

(For those scratching their heads thinking, well what does “flat” mean? – here’s an easy link to the Runner’s World assessment that you can do at home with some water and a piece of paper – link here)

In the world of flat feet + running form, yours truly has a gait that is considered to be overpronation.  The definition of overpronation (according to Runner’s World):  The outside of the heel makes the initial ground contact. However, the foot rolls inward more than the ideal 15 percent. This means the foot and ankle have problems stabilizing the body, and shock isn’t absorbed as efficiently. At the end of the gait cycle, the front of the foot pushes off the ground mainly using the big toe and the second toe, which then must do all the work. (More information on gait forms can be found here)

As convenient and tempting online shopping can be – I am a real believer in the running shop experience.  Having a trained professional in a specialty shoe store watch your gait in a variety of sneakers can go a long way.  Here in the Boston area, I am a huge fan of Heartbreak Running Hill Company (https://www.heartbreakhillrunningcompany.com/) or Marathon Sports (https://www.marathonsports.com/).

The one thing I have learned in the last few years of running, aside from the right shoe, is my favorite excuse for furthering my sneaker obsession –> the need for a sneaker rotation – and like many facets of running, this topic is always one open to lots of debate.

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The sneaker obsession + current rotation  – with my casual sneakers in the far back

According to several running resources I’ve read over the years, there are a few key reasons for rotation – especially if you’re running > 20 miles per week:

  • Different Sneakers for Different Runs – speed workouts v. long runs v. trail runs – in my line up, I prefer to use my high cushion ones for long runs, my lighter ones for speed workouts and when I eventually dabble into trail running, I’ll look for sneakers with some grip

 

  • Keeping that Cushion Springy – If you’re in the middle of training and like to sneak in double sessions or running in a window shorter than 24 hours between runs, you may want to save your sneaker’s cushion.  Allowing some time to pass between runs can save that precious cushion that you crave in your shoes.  Sneakers generally need about 24 hours to “spring” back to their shape – continually shortening that time to repair could ultimately alter the cushioning/structure of your sneaker.

 

  • Injury Prevention – switching shoes for runs can help to prevent a whole host of muscle imbalances that can open the door to injury.  Wearing the same shoes, especially on consistently longer runs/mileage each week can expose your body to stress on the same exact points in a super repetitive fashion.

My one piece of advice before you go out and take your sneaker obsession to the next level – work rotational pairs into your training sloooooowwwwwwllly.  We don’t go increasing mileage each week by 50-60%, so why go and add a new sneaker per training run?

Many Sneaks.JPG

It’s taken me several months of incorporating the shoes pictured above into my current line – from upper left (Nike Odyssey React – these are usually my longer distance cushioned runners), upper right (Brooks Transcend 5 – I wore this pair through the Chicago Marathon but wear them now for Wednesday’s November Project Boston Steps or shorter speed workouts), bottom left (Saucony Omni 15 – I wear these usually on evening runs b/w 3-5 miles mostly because of their bright color), bottom right (Saucony Omni 16 – I wore this style for the 2017 Marine Corp Marathon and usually wear these for daytime 3-5 mile runs).

Not that you need another excuse to buy new sneakers…  How many sneakers do you typically include in your line up? 

Here are a few more resources you might find helpful in thinking about your running form/gait:

 

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