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Running Shoe Roundup

Bill Bowerman, the influential coach of the University of Oregon men's track team and the founder of Nike , once said that the goal of running a race was simply to win.  That was before he met Steve Prefontaine , the cocky young runner from Coos Bay, Oregon who would go on to become America's greatest distance runner.  After Prefontaine's untimely death in 1975 at the age of 24, Bowerman said that coaching Pre had taught him that the goal of running a race was not simply to win, it was to test the bounds of the human spirit.

Running is singular in its purity, and the beauty of running as a form of exercise--besides the obvious physical, mental, and spiritual benefits--is that you really do not need much to go out and run.  Shorts are generally recommended, unless you plan on engaging in a speed workout as you are pursued by the police.  For any runner, regardless of skill level, the most important thing is your shoes.  Running shoes affect a runner on several levels, and finding the right shoes is vital to continued progress and enjoyment.

Editor's Choice: Running Shoes for Overpronating Feet

ASICS GT-2160 Running Shoe 

As a long-time runner, my feet overpronate and I've struggled with rolled ankles for years.  These are the best shoes for overpronating feet I've ever worn, and trust me--I've worn them all.  There is a firm, outside heel component that neutralizes your foot placement, providing total support and comfort.  Available for both men and women.

Getting to Know Your Foot Type

When we discuss foot type, we are not discussing the difference between flat feet and feet with high arches; instead, we are referring to foot placement.  Foot placement, more than any other aspect of your running stride, directly affects the kind of running shoes you will need to buy.

Outfitting yourself with running shoes that don't correspond to your individual foot type can result in serious injury.  An easy way to discover your foot type is by placing your foot in sand or dirt and noticing the areas of your foot that create the deepest imprint.

There are three primary foot placement types:
  • Overpronating: You land on the outer edges of your feet, leaving your ankles susceptible to sprain.
  • Underpronating: Your ankles tend slightly inward causing you to land on the inner part of your foot.
  • Neutral Landing: You land with your foot straight ahead while your ankle remains firmly centred.

 

Men's Running Shoes

Here is an overview of some of the top-rated men's running shoes .  These products can be utilized in competitive road races, trail running, and for general fitness.

ASICS Men’s GEL-Nimbus 12 Running Shoe 

A proven model from one of the most trusted names in running shoes, the Gel-Nimbus 12 provides incomparable stability and cushioning.  These shoes are great for those runners with neutral to mildly overpronating foot placement, and are equipped with ASICS unique Impact Guidance System (I.G.S.), which supports a runner's natural gait.

Mizuno Men’s Wave Creation 11 Running Shoe 

Mizuno has employed some incredible forward-thinking in the design and execution of the Wave Creation 11, most notably in the flex grooves and flex controllers found in the heel of the shoe, which encourage forward motion.  These shoes are most suited to a runner with neutral foot placement, as they reduce lateral stress on the runner's foot.

PUMA Men’s Complete Ventis 2 Running Shoe 

Designed for the heavy pounding of everyday use, yet capable of providing that oft-wanted speed boost, the Complete Ventis 2 shoes are an exemplar of stability and performance.  This model is ideally suited to a runner with neutral foot placement, and comes with Puma's distinct KMS lite midsole, providing cushioning while reducing the shoe's weight.

ASICS Men’s Gel-Kayano 17 Running Shoe 

One of the originals in the world of high-performance trainers, the Gel-Kayano line has been tested time and again by some of the most accomplished distance runners, and the 17 continues this tradition of excellence.  Perfect for a runner with neutral to severely overpronating foot placement, these shoes promote stability and foot control.

 

Women's Trainers

Here is an overview of some of the top-rated women's running shoes .  These shoes are designed specifically for women's foot types and running styles and can be worn for competitive road races, trail running, and for general fitness.

ASICS Women's Gel-Kayano 17 Running Shoe 

Designed with the same commitment to quality and stability as the men's model, the women's Gel-Kayano 17 shoes are equipped with gender specific modifications, and are ideally suited to runner's with neutral to severely overpronated foot placement.  The Kayano 17 shoes have 3mm of additional height to relieve achilles heel tension, and it also responds to changes in the arch of a woman's foot.

Brooks Women's Ghost 3 Running Shoe 

The Ghost 3 shoes are designed specifically for balance and bounce, meaning incredible cushioning that will protect your joints while also allowing the shoes to last longer than most other trainers.  The Ghost 3 shoes are perfect for runners with neutral foot placement, and have unbeatable arch support.  The Glycerin bottoms provide a soft, even landing and great roll from heel strike to toe.

Nike Women's Air Pegasus 27 Running Shoe 

The Pegasus line is one of Nike's most trusted and well-tested running shoe designs.  The Nike Zoom inside unit improves upon the Pegasus 26 by providing more responsive cushioning from the mid-sole to the toe front.  The Pegasus 27 is equipped with a partial inner sleeve that enhances feel and comfort, making this shoe perfect for runners with mildly underprontating to neutral foot placement.

Nike Women's Free Run+ Running Shoe 

Doctors say that running barefoot is the best for your feet in terms of posture and joint comfort, and Nike took this idea and applied it to a running shoe.  The Free Run+ simulates the feeling of running barefoot--a truly revolutionary idea in running shoe technology.  The shoe is essentially one light-weight piece that forms and moulds to your foot, allowing for total flexibility, joint response, and maximum support.   

    

2011 Virgin London Marathon

 The 2011 Virgin London Marathon takes place on Sunday, 17 April 2011.

The London Marathon is one of the World Marathon Majors along with the Boston Marathon, the Berlin Marathon, the Chicago Marathon, and the New York Marathon.

The race begins on Blackheath near Greenwich Park in South-east London, coursing 26.2 miles throughout the city and finishing in St. James's Park in Central London.

Though entries to this year's contest are closed, public entries for the 2012 Virgin London Marathon will open on 26 April 2011 and can be found at the following link: VirginLondonMarathon.com

Coming Soon: Summer 2011

ASICS Gel-Nimbus 13 Running Shoe 


The next instalment in the vaunted ASICS Gel-Nimbus line, the Gel-Nimbus 13 is slated for release in the early Summer, with some predicting a 1 June 2011 release date.

ASICS have released very little information in the build-up to the shoe's release; however, some photos of the Gel-Nimbus 13 shoes can be found here: RunnersWorld.com

There seem to have been alterations made to the heel and achilles areas of the shoe, but you can be sure the excellent Space Trusstic System--which promotes more controlled foot function by allowing the mid-sole to respond to the contours of the foot--will be maintained.

 

 

Trail Running Trainers

Many runners love training on wooded trails or forest runs where the ground tends be uneven and there are often obstacles like rocks and fallen trees.  While standard trainers, like the ones featured above, can certainly be worn in these conditions, many running shoe companies have designed models specifically for trail running.  Trail running shoes  typically have heavy-duty treads for gripping, as well as modifications intended to totally stabilize the foot.  Here we will look at some of the top-rated trail running shoes.  All of the models below are designed for men and women, with the weight of the shoe as the primary difference.

ASICS Gel-Trail Attack 7 Running Shoe 

The upper portion of this excellent trail shoe is cut slightly lower than the average trail running shoe, intended to lock around the runner's instep, while providing maximum heel support.  These shoes are suitable for a severely underpronating to mildly overpronating foot placement, and have excellent outsole traction.

Weight:

  • Men: 11.7 oz
  • Women: 9.6 oz

Brooks Cascadia 6 Running Shoe 

These shoes are designed with ecological sustainability and a minimal carbon footprint in mind.  Complete with Brooks DNA cushioning, which adapts to a wide variety of trail surface types, you can take these shoes anywhere.  These trainers have an adaptable midsole and heel-lock system, making them suitable for nearly any foot type.

Weight:

  • Men: 12.0 oz
  • Women: 10.1 oz

Adidas Supernova Riot 3 Running Shoe 

Right off the bat, these shoes greatly reduce overpronation with excellent midsole medial support, an important feature in trail running where rolled ankles are common.  The Adidas Continental rubber outsole increases traction in wet conditions, while the Formotion cushioning causes the shoes to adapt to varying ground conditions.

Weight:

  • Men: 13.1 oz
  • Women: 11.3 oz

Salomon XR Crossmax Neutral Running Shoe 

New from the Salomon trail running department, these shoes are designed for long distance runs over a wide range of even and uneven trails; they can be worn on the road and are great for winter runs through snow.  The Salomon XR Crossmax is ideally suited for neutral foot placement and have an internal bootie that forms to the runner's foot.

Weight:

  • Men: 12.7 oz
  • Women: 10.5 oz
 

The Great Debate: Minimalist Running Shoes

In 2009, author Christopher McDougall published a book called Born to Run , which examined the Tarahumara Indians of Northern Mexico.  The Tarahumara often engage in long distance races wearing little more than thin, rubber sandals; yet, the Tarahumara runners experience fewer injuries than North American runners, many of whom are used to wearing thickly cushioned trainers.  McDougall argues for the validity of barefoot running, a practice often disregarded by runners around the world.


This argument was then intensified when the Italian shoe company Vibram, released their Five-Finger line of barefoot shoes.  The Five-Finger shoes are only 5.7 oz and are designed to promote a more natural forefoot strike.  The Five-Finger shoes have anatomical rubber pods that protect the soles of the feet and reduce impact, while purporting to enhance proper, natural running form.  Many runners, however, remain unconvinced by the benefits of the minimalist running shoes.

Here are some runner responses about the Vibram FiveFingers Shoes :
  • "I've run competitively for about ten years, and I've always enjoyed doing barefoot strides on a grass infield after long work-outs.  I am able to notice the surface changes more immediately, and my body responds to the different impact levels when I am barefoot.  The FiveFingers certainly allow a greater sense of feel than traditional trainers, but I could not imagine using them day in and day out for heavy mileage." - Dean, 24
  • "I usually run 3.5 miles a day, and I've found that the FiveFingers shoes have certainly improved my natural gait." - Britta, 31 

Vibram FiveFingers Bikila Shoe 

  • Made from stretch Polyminde with protective toe caps.
  • Inner sole made from Polyurethane with sockliner that wicks away moisture.
  • Rubber pods to enhance impact absorption.

 

 

Top Picks: Running Accessories

Nike+ Sportband The ultimate beginner's running watch, the Nike+ Sportband will have you off the couch and achieving your training goals in no time.  The Nike+ Sportband comes with a footpod that you can attach to your trainers; this device tracks your speed, distance, and elapsed time, which appear on the watch face.  Once you are through with your workout, you can then load your training information onto the Nike+ web site and create a log complete with graphs that will allow you to totally stay on top of your progress.

Adidas AdiStar Short Sleeve Top Now that the weather is starting to heat up, it's time to begin thinking about running attire that will offer you maximum comfort in warm weather.  You should begin looking for breathable fabrics that have proper ventilation under the arms and along the sides of your mid-section.  I just ran a marathon in New Orleans, Louisiana, and I noticed many people wearing the AdiStar Short Sleeve Top.  Testers have remarked that the AdiStar is light and allows your skin to breathe, even in the most humid conditions.  This short sleeve top is available for men and women, and also dries very quickly after your run.

Related Guides

External Links

  • RunnersWorld.com: A great resource for all things running from training tips to product reviews.
  • RunningShoeWizard.com: An extremely thorough blog that reviews every new running shoe, well-organized by brand and type.
  • ShoeGuide.co.uk: A great UK-based running shoe review website that will help you find the shoes best suited to your running type.