There was a time not so long ago when I worked in a running shop. My main role was to perform gait analysis. I would assess runners on a treadmill, both in motion and via a video camera attached to the back of the machine in order to see if customers over-pronated or – in very rare instances – under-pronated, as so they could choose the best pair of running trainers.
Or should I say: so I could sell them the best pair of running trainers that they’d be willing to shell out on. Running isn’t inherently an expensive hobby but the prices on the top range trainers…
Still, it was a decent little job and of course it was a good way for me to get reduced trainers, talk to a lot of runners, and get my gait analysed as well.
Thing is, I didn’t really fully subscribe to the idea. I’ve been running for a long time and have tried many pairs of trainers and if I learned one thing it is that I find supportive trainers to be absolutely hellish, despite my clear case of over-pronation. Supportive trainers push up into my arch and make me feel sluggish, slow, and really I just generally despise them.
Or, I did.
My ideal trainer is a trainer that I don’t think about, all I need is a bit of cushioning to separate me from the pavement and the rest can be as light as possible, which sounds pretty much impossible for a supportive trainer. I’ve not found a trainer which exactly manages to break that mould, but I do have a soft spot for the Adidas Ultra Boost ST, which is mostly made of the same lightweight material the neutral trainers in the same range use, but with an extra great big duvet of the Ultra Boost cushioning slapped to the sole and embedded with a bar of arch support. It’s not ideal, but I’ve really been struggling to identify exactly what was causing my recent hip injury to linger, and even what caused it in the first place. I realised that although the pain is in the hip, it is not necessarily the root of the issue. So, I capitulated and gave the Ultra Boost ST’s a go.
Don’t get me wrong, I’d still rather not wear a supportive trainer. They still feel heavier than my Pure Boost DPRs, they still test my arch in a way I’d rather not deal with…but my hip doesn’t hurt when I run in them. I can run through a blister, I can run through a sore arch. I can’t run through a shooting pain in my hip.
I think for a while I’ll finally be taking the advice I used to give.
Since I’ve taken up so much room rambling on about my own choice in footwear, let’s keep the theme going and talk a bit about carbon bars in running trainers.
Let’s start with answering a basic question: what does that mean?
Well it means companies have started putting carbon bars in their top end runners, duh, but why?
The bar has been implemented to provide a push, a spring in the step, a bounce forwards…or at least make a runner feel like that is the case. There aren’t a huge number of examples on the market, and all of them are out of my price range. The most obvious place to look is Nike, who developed the Nike Vaporfly 4% to help push the world’s top marathon runners towards the illusive sub-2-hour marathon. Since then the Vaporfly’s have been updated, and Nike have introduced a carbon-bar sibling in the Zoom Fly. Hoka have released a competitor with the One Carbon X. New Balance have introduced a racing flat with a bar too. It is easy to imagine that every other major shoe manufacture out there is working on something top-end to run alongside these elite trainers.
But we’re talking big bucks with these shoes, are any of them worth it?
I draw your attention to outsideonline.com and Martin Fritz Huber, who tested three of the shoes I named above. Which came out on top? Well I guess you’ll have to read the article and see.
The point is that the article got me thinking about just how far us amateur runners need to go in the pursuit of PB’s. Is a carbon bar really necessary? Is it possible to over-think and over-design our shoes? Would it not be better to just wear whatever is most comfortable and affordable?
I don’t know. Innovation is a good thing, right? I’ll just let others with more spare change than I do make the initial investment. Perhaps later down the line us mere mortals will reap the benefits.
The Rude Health Bogsnorkeling Triathlon
No matter what you choose to stick on your feet it’s the bank holiday weekend and the weather is looking fine (for once) so that means running. Or drinking. Or both. In either case there are plenty of events to accommodate you. This week I’ve chosen to focus on something a bit different…a triathlon!
The Rude Health Bogsnorkeling Triathlon in Llanwrtyd Wells, Powys, Wales, is different from most triathlons because…well I think you can probably guess. Instead of a straightforward open water swim, the wettest portion of the race involves a 60-yard snorkel through a peat bog trench. Doesn’t that sound fun?
What do you mean no?
Throw an 8-mile run in beforehand, and a 12-mile mountain bike ride in afterwards, and you’ve got yourself a bank holiday bonanza. I’ll leave all that fun to you lot though, I think I’m busy.
As always you can find more information at the event website.