Saturday, September 13, 2014

How to find the perfect running shoe for you

Looking to buy a new pair of runners? What's the first thing you look at?




To find the perfect running shoe for you you may need to look a bit deeper than that.

I was WELL overdue a new pair of trainers when I stepped into Amphibian King last week - a store that bills themselves as 'technical running shoe specialists'.

It's recommended that you update your running shoes every 300 - 400 miles which may sound like a lot, but if you're running 6 miles a couple of times a week, then in about 6 or 7 months you should be hitting that mark.

I'm ashamed to say it was a LOT more than that for my poor old Asics trainers.

These guys had seen me through my first 5k, multiple 10k races, a half marathon, a Hell and Back adventure race, two triathlons and lots and lots of training. Turns out they were in fact 4.5 years old - ancient in trainer terms.

They may have felt like old friends on my feet, but I knew they weren't doing my back any favours so they had to be retired.

And so the process of choosing new ones began.

I went into the store with the intention of buying the updated version of the same shoe, but things didn't quite turn out that way.

Amphibian King is very different to a normal sports shop where you browse the shoes on offer, pick your favourite one within your price range, try on your size and then walk happily out. They talk to you about how far you run, what surface you run on, if you have any ongoing injuries, what your goals are. Then they move on to your personal analysis to see what running shoe best fits your style of running.

First up - a natural bare foot gait analysis. Initially your arch is examined, followed by a short run down a purpose built track so that your running style can be analysed. By seeing what way your foot lands they are able to then recommend the best running shoe for you.

My lovely sales person Oona was extremely patient, explaining each part of the process as we went along. Finding the perfect running shoe can take time so it's best to book in if you can. I spent about 45 minutes from start to finish but had her full attention that entire time.

Oona checks out my moves

Based on her analysis of my needs and running style, Oona brought out three different trainers for me to try. It's not until you try on a number of different pairs that you realise how different each pair can actually feel.

First up was these bad boys from Brooks.

Brooks Ghost 7

As soon as I put these on I thought that was it. So comfortable, they just felt 'right'

With each pair of trainers you are asked to run on the track whilst they film you again to make sure the shoes are suitable.

Although I would happily have walked out of the shop there and then we moved on to the next pair - On Running Cloudrunner. These were the ones that Oona herself wore and loved - and since she was doing an Ironman at the end of the month I reckoned she probably knew a thing or two about it.

However - and this is where personal fitting comes in - I hated them. They didn't feel right on my foot at all and when I tried running in them it felt flat, hard and uncomfortable.

So on to the next pair - Asics Cumulus 16.

These ones felt nice but my heel didn't feel as snugly as the first ones so I discounted them pretty quickly too. Sorry Asics, Turns out I am a fickle friend.

And then the New Balance ones came out just to throw me off guard.

Like the first pair they felt instantly comfortable and running in them felt extremely natural.

Now the only problem was which pair to choose.

To help me decide Oona suggested that I put on one of each and go outside for a short run to see which felt best. A simple test that made the decision easy.

It turns out that the perfect running shoe for me is.....

New Balance Moyen.

I love them and they love me. Let's hope it's a partnership that works well for the next 400 odd miles.
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