ad astra per alia porci


a change in running philosophy, and gear

The sad death of my first ever pair of real running shoes (Asics 2120) provided me with a chance to get another pair of running shoes. The old battered 2120 has had its day, after miles on the road, many gym sessions and 300 workouts, and it is time to retire it as its sole has dropped off. I have 2 pair of shoes, one is kept in school while the other is kept at home. The one that died is kept in school, and is used for both gym work and running the Botanic Gardens. The one at home is an Asics Foundation 8, probably the most supportive and comfortable (though chunky) running shoe I have ever used.

Hence the question for me was whether I should stick with the tried and safe, or try something new. The safe choice would be another pair of Asics; Asics never fails to provide a shoe with fantastic support and comfort. Yet after reading much propaganda and books about the perks and advantages of barefoot (or at least, simulated barefoot) running, I want to try out something new that may help and improve my running and the whole running experience. My experience of running so far has been painful at times, with shin splints the most prevalent problem. I reckon that this might have something to do with my running form, and books and research told me that proper form requires one to land and lift off on the forefoot instead of striking the heels. Apparently, wearing shoes with thinner soles will help train one to use the forefeet. I was curious to know if an almost flat-footer like me can develop a “proper” running form and land on my forefeet.

Hence I decided to look for a shoe that has a thinner sole and better feel of the ground, and will train me to run in a more efficient manner by making me run on my forefoot instead of striking my heels. I already have a pair of ultra supportive running shoes, so just in case the new purchase did not turn out well, I can always relegate it to a gym shoe and get another pair, or just use my current Asics Foundation 8 for distance work. It’s time to try a shoe that is less chunky and liberates my feet.

So I popped into Running Lab in Novena to shop for my next shoe. My eventual answer, after trying out and deciding between the Zoot Advantage, Nike Lunarglide and Newton Motus, is the Newton Motus (http://www.newtonrunning.com/newton-products/the-shoes/mens-shoes/men-trainers/men-stability-trainer).

It was a tough choice. The Zoot Advantage had a thinner sole, which fitted my requirement of a shoe with a thinner sole, and it was an absolutely fantastic fit. It hugs the feet perfectly, and the lacing system was no frills and effective without the need to fumble over tying knots. One can run in it barefeet without socks; just slip it on and off one goes.

Yet I chose the Newton Motus instead. With all this gushing, one might expect me to end up with a pair of Zoots. As I mentioned, it was a tough decision. The Newton was not half as comfortable as the Zoot, and the lacing system is as normal as it can get. The colour scheme is a garish yellow/orange blend (a note to manufacturers: please use nicer colours).

What won me over was the feel of the shoe, not in terms of comfort, but rather its attention to correcting and perhaps forcing the runner to adopt a midfoot running style. The lugs in the middle of the shoe protrude out of the sole and makes it irresistible for the runner to land on the lugs. On the treadmill at Running Lab, I began to notice a change in my running style; instead of heavy wide strides, my legs closed up in narrower strides that landed closer to the bottom of my body.

The true test of any shoe is whether it performs in a normal run. I took mine for a light run after coming back from school.

Landing on my mid/fore foot was a novel experience. I felt like a toddler, unsteadily tiptoeing along and I felt like falling over. However the lugs absorbed the shock well and my feet adapted to the need to be more steady as the shoe had significantly less support and cover than my Asics.

After the initial baby steps and uncertainty, I was running faster than I did on my Asics. The Newton is light, in fact very light. The contrast was quite massive; the Newton with its thin and breathable mesh outer was very light, in comparison to the chunky Asics I have.

And it was not just the lack of weight that made me go faster. My running form changed. My legs lift higher, and they land below the axis of my body. I take more steps, but my stride cycle is faster. My arms are tucked backwards, and my spine erect, with my legs propelling me forward. Is this the fabled “optimal running form”? Or ChiRunning? Or POSE? Or whatever you call it. Whatever it is, it feels different, and good.

Back home from the 40 minute run, my calves are sore. They are very tight, and various hitherto unseen and unknown small muscles ache. I envision myself having some trouble walking tomorrow. There was no pain, which is always a good sign.

I hope that it is not just the placebo effect of getting a pair of new shoes. I will find out whether the improvements are real in the next few weeks. I am optimistic that this pair of shoes will open up opportunities and bring my running to another dimension.

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2 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Stumbled upon this. I love running and now you’ve got me quite excited about this proper running form!

Comment by Saumya

I am quite excited about it too! Because it will mean a lesser chance of injury and more joy when I run.

Comment by elgintwx




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