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RUN SNACK – ROTATE IT LIKE YOU MEAN IT

Like changing your undies every couple of days, it’s important to rotate your running shoes.

I have several pairs of shoes on the go at any one time (usually 2 road, 2 trail), and I try and mix up what I wear on any given day. The idea has nothing to do with extending shoe life – it’s to add variety to the running stress you are putting your body under.

Like varying the terrain, rotating your shoes changes your stride (even only slightly) and the forces on your body, and this makes for a stronger, more adaptable and durable runner. And isn’t that the aim?

See you out there – Juddy

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RUN SNACK – 5 THINGS TO LOOK FOR IN GOOD RUNNING SHOES

I posted a photo to instagram last week that listed three components in a running shoe that are non-negotiables for me. Instagram doesn’t really allow for discussions, so I wanted to expand on this list a little.

  1. Wide toe box – This is critical, and perhaps the most important aspect of running shoe comfort and performance for me. I like my feet to be able to move as they were intended when I run, and toes being allowed to splay is crucial.
  2. Zero drop – This means that the heel is at the same height as the forefoot. ‘Traditional’ running shoes have around 12mm of drop, meaning the heel is elevated 12mm above the forefoot. This has a myriad of follow on effects in both muscle activation and running gait mechanics. My forefoot and heel are level when I’m barefoot – I like it that way when I run.
  3. Firm midsole – This point is the main the reason I’m choosing to expand on the original instagram post. When I say firm, that does not mean that I like my shoes without flexibility. Quite the opposite. For me, a firm midsole means that the cushioning is stiff (not soft and marshmallowy). A firm midsole sends quicker feedback to the feet and legs as the cushioning (or lack of) isn’t dampening this message. For me, a firm midsole means quicker reactions – particularly on trails.

The above 3 components are my non-negotiables, and were the 3 on my original list. I finished my instagram post with the sentence “…the rest I’m willing to talk about”. There are perhaps two other components I’m pretty set on too, however there are situations when I deviate from them so they aren’t complete non-negotiables. They are:

  1. Flexibility (most of the time) – This is true in all my road shoes – I want them as flexible as possible to, again, allow my foot to move as it wishes. This is mostly true for my trail shoes, with the exception being if I’m doing lots of hill climbing I like a little stiffness in the midsole/outsole. The reason for this extra stiffness when I’m climbing hills is that I’ve found that it helps take some of the load off my calves when I’m up on my toes powering up hill.
  2. Lightweight (most of the time) – This is true in all my road shoes. (Speed – give me what I need!) This, again, is mostly true for my trail shoes, however I’m willing to make the trade-off in a little extra weight if it means more protection and/or grip for technical or rocky trails. I’ve come to accept that there are some heavier rubbers used for the outsoles of shoes, but the extra weight is worth it in terms of durability, grip and rock protection.

Anything you want to add?

See you out there – Juddy

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RUN SNACK – CLOTHING…THE FEET

Controversial topic. I’m prefacing this post with a note that this is purely my opinion only – you can make your own mind up about this one.

I’m a trail, minimal and barefoot runner. In that order. My choice of shoes basically come down to what I’m doing, and I run in as little shoe as I possibly can given the terrain. And that’s it.

My preference for shoes is pretty simple – zero drop (the heel is at the same height as the toe), minimal cushioning, flexible, ‘enough’ grip for the terrain. Running trails, this means my shoe choice varies from no midsole, low height lugs and ultra lightweight if I’m running soft forest trails, to aggressive grip and more cushioning for rocky and steep trails.

My preference, even on rocky terrain, is for a firm midsole – even in my ‘cushioned’ shoes. You can have a protective midsole and rockplate without going to the marshmallow end of the spectrum. For me a firm midsole gives quicker terrain feedback, meaning quicker adjustments in my body position. This means Hoka’s are a big no in my books. Way too soft.

I’m also a massive fan of barefoot running.

If I’m on a path or road I know well, and know that it’s a kind surface, I’ll generally opt to be barefoot. I’ve had runs where I start out in shoes feeling like crap, and I take off my shoes and end up having one of those awesome runs.

Unfortunately, in most instances, barefoot trail running isn’t realistically possible. I’ve accepted that there is a time and place for some protection from the ground, in particular those 2+ hour runs on rocky terrain – my most minimal shoes just don’t do the job and my feet feel beat up for the rest of the day (and then some on occasion).

For what it’s worth my current shoe rotation is:

Trails (most cushioned to least)
Altra Lone Peak 1.5
Inov-8 Trailroc 235 & Altra Superior
Inov-8 Trailroc 150

Roads (most cushioned to least)
Merrel Bare Access (the original model – still the best IMO)
Merrel Road Glove
Barefoot

All of these shoes are zero drop.

What’s your preference? What’s in your rotation?

See you out there – Juddy

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