Physical Therapists Using Clinical Analysis To Discuss The Art And Science Behind Running and The Stuff We Put On Our Feet

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Welcome to our first ever Q&A round-up! We always have great questions from readers and often are answering them behind the scenes. We decided to start taking some of your comments to help answer some commonly-asked questions we receive. Make sure to follow us on Instagram to catch future opportunities to send questions in, or email us your questions to!

Doctors of Running Q&A, Volume 1

1. Is it okay to use carbon plated, highly cushioned shoes as a daily trainer? Pro and cons? - faye.f.cooper

Senior Contributor David Salas: We don't have enough evidence to say definitively either way. We have seen some difference in running economy and fatigue resistance in these shoes, though long term we don't know enough about the effects on our bodies using them.

2. Is it bad to only run in shoes with the same heel drop? - g.fish14

Chief Editor Matt Klein: Depends on your reasoning for doing that. If your body tends to be sensitive/prone to injury with too low or too high a heel drop, then staying with the same heel drop is fine. If not, some variety can be helpful.

3. How many shoes do a runner need to have and for what purpose? - erik_vilchis

Senior Contributor David Salas: Some individuals can get by with just one pair of shoes. A pretty normal rotation of having one daily trainer, a workout shoe/training companion, and then a race shoe seem to work well for many.

4. If you could bring one past model back from the dead? - jdeancohen

Chief Editor Matt Klein: I'd bring back the Mizuno Wave Universe series, but update it with today's running technology just to see what happens. Can you image a moderate/high stack height, 3.9 oz racing shoe?

Senior Contributor David Salas: Adidas Energy Boost would be a shoe I'd like back from the dead. The Adidas energy boost was a trainer that balanced quite a lot. Workhorse durability, the bounce of full length boost, decent weight ratio, and the vibes of athleisure.

Contributor Andrea Myers: It's not dead yet, but I would love for New Balance to resuscitate the Beacon instead of killing it off this year. In the meantime, I will be building up my Beacon reserves for the future.

Contributor Ryan Flugaur: When I was younger my father would run and I would take my bike and go with him. I remember him always talking about how much he loved the Nike Pegasus. Naturally, when I began to run, the first shoe I purchased was the Nike Pegasus 33. I have run in every Pegasus since with my favorite being model 34. The Nike Pegasus 34 fit my foot perfectly and running just felt natural. I was able to notch 400 miles in my Pegasus 34 before it needed to be retired.

Contributor Megan Flynn: If I could bring one shoe back from the dead it would be the Saucony Liberty. They’ve definitely been replaced with other great trainers that serve the same purpose, but I’m biased toward them because they were my transition shoe from stability to neutral (I wore the Asics GT 2000 series forever). The Libertys had a well-designed combination of mild stability with lightweight/responsive features. They also had a lot of similarities to the Kinvaras at the time, but with more medial stability.

Content Manager Bach Pham: While the Tempo v2 from New Balance bridges it much closer to this model, the New Balance Zante Pursuit was such a fun, nimble ride. Weighing in a 7 oz, it was light as a feather, had an incredibly stick outsole for the wettest of days, and just felt incredible for any effort.

5. What brand of running socks do you recommend that prevents from getting wet due to sweat? - kinoboi

Senior Contributor David Salas: Drymax and Swiftwick regardless of model seem to work pretty well for me! 

Contributor Ryan Flugaur: My favorite running socks are the Feetures Elite Ultra-Light no show tab socks. They are thin enough to keep my feet cool during hot summer runs and the nylon/spandex material mix helps wick away sweat. My number two option would be any Darn Tough sock. They are backed by an awesome lifetime warranty and are a good option for cooler runs in the fall and winter.

Content Manager Bach Pham: Features has been a long time go-to for the same reasons Ryan mentions. Despite feeling a little thicker, they breath really well. One of the underrated characteristics is also how grippy they are and further help you lock into a shoe. A brand less people know about is Farm to Feet, which has become a favorite of mine for their no-show, ultra thin sock which has been a lifesaver for shoes that are just a touch snug. They are highly breathable being so thin and surprisingly comfortable for how little material there is. Note, if you are a heavy sweater and live in an ultra-humid climate, there may be no avoiding it, but these socks will provide some minor relief along with a breathable shoe.

6. What is each of your favorite shoes of all time? - alexandramikezeigler

Contributor Andrea Myers: The original Saucony Kinvara - it helped me realize that lower drop, more flexible shoes work well for my biomechanics after spending my teens and 20s running in more traditional neutral trainers.

Senior Contributor Nathan Brown: My favorite shoe of all time was is all related to nostalgia and my first experience in a true running shoe. I visited Movin’ Shoes in Madison back in college and tried on about 5 pairs, and I left the store with the New Balance Baddeley (890 v2). I ran in those shoes for the next 2.5 years before finally replacing them. They had holes all over the place and I thought I’d never find something better.

Contributor Ryan Flugaur: Many of my favorite shoes have come out in the past few years.
Stability Shoe: New Balance Vongo V5
Neutral Daily Trainer: Hoka Mach 4 and Nike Pegasus 34
Plated Shoe: Puma Deviate Nitro Elite and Saucony Endorphin Speed 2

Contributor Megan Flynn:
Overall favorite training shoe: New balance Fuel Cell Tempo V2               
Overall favorite plated road racing shoe: Nike Next%2               
Overall favorite non-plated road racing shoe: Adidas Adios               
Overall favorite track spike: Nike Dragonfly, hands down

Content Manager Bach Pham: I have a soft spot for the Saucony Cohesion 10. It may just be a budget running shoe, but it was the first shoe I put a lot of miles in and was plenty protective enough for me to run my first 5 and 10k. Just because it doesn't have the latest tech, doesn't mean it isn't a runnable shoe! A great starter pair for new runners that doesn't break the bank.

7. What type of shoes are best for chronic Achilles issues in forefoot strikers? - jelliottrobinson

Chief Editor Matt Klein: Based on the evidence, rockers shoes, particularly those with significant forefoot rockers (upward curve at the front), may reduce stress on the Achilles tendon. The amount of upward curve will depend on the individual and their speed. A longer curve tends to be better for easier speeds, whereas a short curve can be great for faster speeds, but may actually increase stress/stiffness at slower speeds.

8. How do you know it's time to change shoes? - nya.shara

Chief Editor Matt Klein: That is a great question. Previously, most companies recommended changing out your shoes after 300-500 miles of use. We now know that number varies quite a bit, especially with many shoes not being as durable now due to lighter materials. From a biomechanical standpoint, once you start to see significant uneven wear in the outsole, that is a good time. This is because that extreme wear will exacerbate whatever abnormal movement patterns you have and may increase your injury risk.

9. Just switched from a 6mm to 0mm drop shoe. Any advice on how to build up and avoid an injury? - matty2605

Chief Editor Matt Klein: Yes! Progress slowly. Keep the previous 6mm drop shoe around and switch back and forth as you slowly progress your mileage in the 0mm drop shoe. Start working on 3 major things: single leg calf strength, ankle dorsiflexion/calf mobility and single leg balance. You should work up to being able to do 3-5 x 25-30 single leg heel reps, have at least 20-30 degrees of ankle dorsiflexion and be able to balance on one leg for 30 seconds with your eyes open and closed.

10. What's your advice for increasing endurance at a fast pace? - nya.shara

Contributor Andrea Myers: The most important thing is to have a solid aerobic base before progressing to speed work. Many runners (and coaches) skip or shortchange the base building process and skip ahead to intervals that are much faster than threshold pace, which is a recipe for burnout and injury. Doing a solid block of training at lactate threshold and critical velocity (30 min race pace) prior to starting faster intervals will result in you being ready to train at faster paces as you get closer to your goal race(s). It is also important that your training zones are based on your current fitness, not a race that you did several months ago. Good luck with your training!

Contributor Megan Flynn: I have three ideas to help improve endurance at a faster pace (i.e. increasing your tempo pace): First, continuing to include speed work sporadically (every 10-12 days) into your training is extremely important when trying to improve your tempo pace. It not only prevents your legs from getting stale, but it also helps train your body on the mechanics and neuromuscular components required for different speeds. Second, is to include hill repeats or speedwork in the same workout as a tempo (before doing the tempo) to make the tempo pace feel easier after completing intervals at a higher intensity.  Third, break the tempo into shorter intervals with short recovery times between intervals and gradually increase the interval length while decreasing the recovery time. The recoveries will allow your cardiovascular system to adapt and also make sure you’re maintaining good form, while getting your body used to running at a faster pace for a longer duration.

11. Why do soft shoes make the lateral side of my foot hurt and cramp, while firm shoes do not? - damonk1m

Chief Editor Matt Klein: Firm shoes tend to be more stable, resisting compression. Softer shoes will have more compliance/give to the sole. If you tend to land on one side of the shoe, the other side may either be pressing up too much into that part of the shoe, or the part under the lateral side is compressing too much and stressing a few particular structures on that side. You may need a firmer shoe or a softer shoe with more central guidance.

12. What's (in your opinion) the next big trend/shift in shoe tech going to be? - timcoleman0810

Chief Editor Matt Klein: That is such a good question. In the future, it will be individual customization of footwear. Right now I think it is going to be an energy return war. Not just in racing shoes, but also in training shoes. We're already heading in that direction and the brands are talking about it behind closed doors, but no one is admitting that they have shoes that have a 95% energy return (the original vapor fly was in the 85-87% range). Currently, people are just throwing out "new foams" but not actually adding any numbers to it. When people start throwing out numbers, things are going to get interesting.

Contributor Andrea Myers: I agree with Matt - I think individual runners will be able to have their shoes "tuned" to their weight, biomechanics, and race pace. Bring on the future!

Senior Contributor Nathan Brown: I think future trends are going to try and make customizable shoes accessible and feasible. We continually see that matching a shoe to a person is individual and unique. Therefore I see companies who are focusing on the everyday runner trying to find ways people can choose a combination that suits their interests and comfort. This would include choosing midsole “density”, shaping, width, upper style, etc.

Content Manager Bach Pham - I think before customization, we're going to be seeing a much bigger swing towards sustainability and questions of what that will look like for each brand moving forward. It will be the most important question for the industry long term, how to bridge running with a cleaner future. Expect to see many more models focused on renewable materials and unique selling strategies like the new On Cloudneo.

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Thanks for reading!

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Find all shoe reviews at Doctors of Running here.

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