Is it the shoes?


Is it the shoes? Yes, I really believe the shoes are the most important piece of equipment for a runner. All the other accessories are just optional. I don’t need all that fancy running clothing. Sure, they’re nice, but any old t-shirt and a pair of cutoff shorts will do. Socks are essential, but any decent pair will prevent me from blistering. I don’t really need a high-tech watch or music on the run. All I really need is a very good pair a real running shoes. And, no, I do not plan on ever running barefoot, except on the beach. I have never seen a barefoot runner in the winter running through the snow and ice. That’s difficult enough with good running shoes, especially running downhill on an icy road.

Over the years, some of my running friends have gotten injured due to not having proper running shoes. If you do any kind of  distance running, you really need to have a very good pair of running shoes in order to increase your running comfort and prevent injuries. One runner I knew, wouldn’t spend the money on a name-brand pair of running shoes and would instead buy the generic shoes that were on sale. Not only did the shoes not last very long, but he also kept getting injured. I kept telling him that all his aches and pains were due to his lack of real running shoes. Of course, he didn’t listen to me. Another runner I knew, had real running shoes, but he kept them too long. After about a year, I told him he should replace them, but he had spent a lot of money on them and he said they still looked new, which they did. I tried to explain to him that the support was no longer there because the shoe materials break down with use and time. Yes, he took care of his shoes and they looked new; unbelievably, the soles showed little wear even after a year of training for and running 10Ks. When his right knee started aching, I told him he needed new shoes. But he insisted his shoes were still “like new”. Well, after a few more months, he could barely run and even walking was painful because of his right knee. He went to the doctor and ended up getting arthroscopic surgery on his knee. Now, I’m no doctor, but I’m sure it was because of the shoes.

I have mentioned the importance of getting new shoes, but most runners won’t listen to me. Of course, I follow my own advice on running shoes. I have tried many brands of running shoes and I have enjoyed most of them, but after all these years of running, I have settled on Asics running shoes. You have to shop around and find a brand that’s good for you and you’re running style. Whenever, I start to feel pain during running in my knees or hips, I break out a new pair of shoes and the pain goes away. So far, I haven’t needed any surgery due to running. I have sprained both ankles while running, but that had nothing to do with the running shoes. When I first met my wife Beata, she was surprised when I switched to a new pair of running shoes. She thought I was wasting money by buying new shoes when my old shoes still looked new. I explained my reasoning to her, but I don’t think I truly convinced her.

Even as I write this, I have three pairs of brand-new Asics Kayano 19 in closet just waiting for me to take them out on a run.

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David Diego Rodríguez, Ph.D.

I write about whatever comes to mind. También enseño español y escribo acerca de los mexicanos y la enseñanza del español.