The year is 1960. The place is the Rome Olympics. The runner is from Ethiopia, and his name is Abebe Bikila. He won the gold in his running sport, and he did it barefoot.
Why did he run barefoot in the first place? According to Science Daily Magazine, the shoes he was given did not fit comfortably and he forever became famous for winning in bare feet.
Think about that for a moment: this athlete that had trained endless hours and qualified to run in the Olympics against competing athletes from around the world chose to run barefoot rather than wear uncomfortable shoes. I think many of us can relate to being trapped in a pair of ill fitting shoes for an event or two.
This should speak to the importance one should place on choosing the correct shoe for your fitness journey. As the old saying goes: good shoes aren't cheap, and cheap shoes aren't good! Running shoes are good for running, but not necessarily for cross training, and cross training shoes are not the best option to use for long distance running.
So why would you choose to wear your 3 year old, worn out running shoes on your fitness journey? The answer is: you can do better...much better!
You have invested in your fitness journey, made choices to spend more on your nutrition, made some investments into your workout attire, your shoes should be included in that list to be updated as well!
According to foot.com, we have 8,000 nerves in our feet. That's a lot of nerve endings to keep happy while pounding on them day after day! Add in some ill fitting shoes and you have have 8,000 angry customers with your feet!
Now that you see the importance of good, quality shoes for your fitness journey, let's look at ways you can go about making some better shoe choices:
1. Research a quality shoe store with trained associates that will look at your gait, talk with you about your fitness needs, and has a good selection to choose from. Large, box stores have a big selection, but not necessarily the trained staff to help you pick something out. If they don't ask you to walk for them, walk out of there! Small, niche running stores are fantastic for this!
2. Ask your fitness professional where they get their shoes. Fitness professionals are athletes themselves, and they are very careful about their shoes. Chances are, they know the best store to evaluate you for the correct shoes according to your gait and fitness needs.
3. Socks. A good pair of socks is worth their weight in gold to provide shock absorption, an extra layer of cushioning, and a way to keep your feet cool and dry. How much do you enjoy walking around in soaking wet socks? Yup, its awful. A good pair of socks will wick the moisture away from your foot and stay dry.
4. Shoe accessories. Running at night requires lighting, and there are some accessories that clip on your shoes to be reflective, provide identification, or blinking lights.
5. Age. Shoes aren't meant to last forever, and if you are using them every day or training for something like a half-marathon, they may not even last a year. Many of us tend to use our shoes past their sole life, causing our feet pain and sores. Think to yourself how long you have been training in your shoes, and bring them with you to the store to show the associate. They can then see how old they are in terms of sole life, and even see how you wear them out in terms of gait and structure.
So, next time you are getting ready to workout, take a second and take a good look at your shoes. If you can't remember the last time you purchased a new pair, or think of how they hurt your feet at the end of your workout, or maybe you haven't changed brands since 1990, it is a good time to look at getting a new pair of kicks!
In good shoe health,
Director of Operations, AXIS Training Studio