Getting in from my run on Thursday I realised it was time to face up to facts. Time to take a tough decision. Time to say goodbye to old friends. Time to retire my favourite pair of running shoes.
There were three things that brought me to this conclusion.
First, they have clocked through 800 km (500 miles) and conventional wisdom says that running shoes generally have an expected lifespan of between 300 and 500 miles (500 and 800km). As I mostly run on roads and, at 146 pounds (66kg), am not a heavyweight, it’s probably right that I get a good mileage out of them – but they can”t go on forever.
Secondly, although they appear to be in pretty good shape, I looked at the soles and they tell a pretty clear tale of wear. The wear is almost entirely along the outside edge of each shoe, confirming what I have thought for some time – I am a supinator.
My foot lands with most of my weight on the outside edge but instead of rolling inwards (‘pronating’) or rolling too far inwards (‘over-pronating’), it stays on the outside edge (‘under-pronating’ or ‘supinating’).
All runners know the risks they take on whenever they leave the house. From the lower back to the tips of our toes, even the most technically perfect of runners is putting every joint, bone, muscle, ligament and tendon in between at grave risk of injury (or so it would seem from so much of the internet).
For us over-pronators or under-pronators, the risks are magnified – it appears that for me the risks include devil worship, eternal damnation and the end of civilisation as we know it.
OK, that last bit might have been exaggerated a little – but it is a bit of a surprise that I can still walk given the risks I seem to be taking every time I run.
What’s worse is that the wear on the soles of the shoes show that I run heavier on my left foot than my right. While I may have a mental picture of me running like a gazelle, it appears that I probably look more like a three legged wildebeest.
The fact that I am in a 5% minority of runners who supinate comes as little compensation.
These were the oldest of two pairs of these particular shoes – the ‘Puma Ignite 500 Speed’. I ran the Rotterdam Marathon in them in April 2019 and the second pair are only a bit behind in mileage. I like them because they are comfortable, fairly lightweight, low at the back of the heel (good for my dodgy Achilles tendons) and reasonably priced.
I’ve been looking for new ones for months but with no luck – I guess they have been discontinued as all I could find were the occasional random pair in extreme sizes. However, I recently stumbled on a seller who must have some old stock and have bought two more pairs of identical shoes (unadventurous, me?).
It seems that we supinators need more cushioning in our running shoes to make up for the loss of natural cushioning from the usual pronation of the foot. We might also need arch supports to help spread the impact from the foot landing across more of the foot.
How that ties in with the fact that I can run in my minimalist shoes, which have no cushioning or arch support, is beyond me, but at least moving on to one of the new pairs of shoes should restore some extra cushioning. I’ll carry on with the minimalist shoes on a regular basis in the hope that they help to train and strengthen my feet which must be a good thing.
It will be interesting to see if I can tell the difference between new and old shoes. If there is no discernible difference, the old shoes might be reprieved and live on for muddier or wetter runs.
Interesting stuff this week (just wise words as it’s midweek)
African wise words: A man who believes that he can do everything, let him dig a grave and bury himself.