Choosing the right running shoe is crucial for both performance and staying injury free. With such a wide variety of options produced by dozens of manufacturers, making the crucial shoe choice is not always easy to do. Coaches Jeff Raines and Elizabeth James will give you the "rundown on running shoes" so can choose the pair that's best for you.
TriDot Podcast .03:
The Rundown on Running Shoes
This is the TriDot Podcast. TriDot uses your training data and genetic profile combined with predictive analytics and artificial intelligence to optimize your training, giving you better results in less time with fewer injuries. Our podcast is here to educate, inspire, and entertain. We’ll talk all things triathlon with expert coaches and special guests. Join the conversation and let’s improve together.
Andrew: Welcome to the show, everyone. I’m super excited you’ve joined us today we have a dynamic main set topic that I’m teasing early because I think a lot of people out there will benefit from this talk. We are talking running shoes: how to pick them, when to replace them, where to buy them from, what all those drop, stability, foam, energy-return terms mean—all the big questions you might face when choosing what running shoes are best for you. My first guest joining us today is the best guy to talk to about this. It’s coach Jeff Raines. Jeff has a master’s of science in exercise physiology, and can still throw down a sub-16-minute 5K and a one hour and 15 minute half marathon. I don’t know about you, that’s a little bit faster than me. He’s qualified for Boston multiple times, and has over 30 Ironman event finishes to his credit. He was a D1 collegiate runner and is my absolute favorite person to talk running shoes with. Jeff, it’s your first time on the show. How are you feeling?
Jeff: I’m excited to be here. Thanks, Andrew. I can’t wait to geek-out on shoes with everybody. I’ve been called a shoe nerd definitely more than once. So, I welcome anybody to join us and nerd-out alongside me.
Andrew: Yeah, the Nike founder, Phil Knight, was known as the shoe dog. And we all affectionately refer to Jeff Raines as our shoe nerd. So, Jeff, glad you’re here with us. Next up is coach Elizabeth James. She is a professional triathlete, Boston qualifier, and Kona qualifier who has a recent marathon PR of three hours and 59 seconds. Elizabeth is on a quest to complete a marathon in all 50 states and with 18 states down, she is already well on her way. Elizabeth, thanks for putting down the running shoes long enough to join us today.
Elizabeth: Well, thank you, Andrew. I have been really excited about this episode since we first pitched the idea. There’s just so much to talk about with the run, and I can’t wait to dive into this one part as we discuss all things running shoes today.
Andrew: And who am I? I’m your host, Andrew, the average triathlete, voice of the people, and captain of the middle of the pack. Listen, every good workout starts with a warmup, peaks with the main set, and concludes with a nice, refreshing cool down. And that is exactly what you can expect from the TriDot Podcast. Today, we’ll warm up with a fun and hypothetical question that will help you get to know Jeff and Elizabeth. Then we’ll all nerd-out on running shoes in the main set before cooling down with a running edition of “Gear We Use.” Lots to cover. Let’s get it going.
Time to warm up. Let’s get moving.
Andrew: So, a few years ago, my first half Ironman was 70.3 New Zealand. I was on loop one of the run course when I noticed the crowd getting really excited that I was approaching. I thought that’s a little odd. But, I guess, you know, all these Kiwis are just super friendly. But right then the race leader and local hero, Terenzo Bozzone, passed right by me. I realized it wasn’t me that the fans were getting super excited about. It was Terenzo. This leads us to today’s warmup question, If you could get passed by any celebrity during a race, and so, for just a moment in time you too were side by side, right on the racecourse, who would you want to get passed by? Jeff, what are your thoughts?
Jeff: Wow, great question. So, many choices. My non-athlete celebrity would have to be, I guess, a man crush you could say as well, Sylvester Stallone.
Andrew: Solid, Rocky Balboa himself.
Jeff: He plays a lot of athletes and it just happens to be he wears Converse in a lot of his movies, which used to be the end-all, be-all athletic shoe of its time. But I would say athletes, celebrities passing me on the course would have to be Mirinda Carfrae and/or Craig Alexander. Both Kona winners, they both tend to be run specialists. I love that they tend to come from behind and make their biggest move on the run course. So, I would just love to run alongside them for at least one step.
Andrew: I think those are really, really good pics. Now, if Sylvester Stallone was going by you on a triathlon course, would you be tempted to hum the Rocky theme song as he went by or throw your arms up like you were on top of the Philadelphia capitol steps?
Jeff: Absolutely. I would be that guy. Absolutely.
Andrew: You’d have to fan-out for a second, right. Elizabeth, who would you want to get passed by on a racecourse?
Elizabeth: Well, I mean, shoot, Raines stole my answer with Mirinda Carfrae, she’s always been one of my favorite athletes for similar reasons that he mentioned about being a strong runner and really making the races interesting on the marathon portion of the Ironman events. So, as soon as he stole my answer, I’ve been kind of racking my brain to try to think of another response. In terms of celebrities, I mean, honestly, my competitive nature is coming out here and my first thought was, I don’t want anybody passing me.
Andrew: It’s hypothetical Elizabeth, come on.
Elizabeth: But then, just kind of an off-the-cuff thing, I think it would be hilarious to see Chuck Norris on the course. Just the signs, you know, “Chuck Norris never did an Ironman.” They make me smile. So, I’d love to actually see him out on the course.
Andrew: Like that would for sure get your attention, right? You’re on the course and Chuck Norris went by.
Elizabeth: Oh, definitely. Yeah.
Andrew: And I could have rephrased the question, perhaps just for you to say, What celebrity would you want to pass on a race?
Elizabeth: Well, there we go. Yeah.
Andrew: Is that better, does that make you feel a little bit, a little bit better? Well, I thought about this as well, because in my opening scenario that made me think of this, it was an actual celebrity triathlete, somebody who’s a professional and well known in the sport. So, it got me thinking, if I could have an actual celebrity, not triathlon specific, who would I choose? And here’s what I was thinking: there’s celebrities I like, there’s celebrities that I follow. One that came to mind really early was NASCAR driver Jimmie Johnson. I follow him on Strava, he actually is a cyclist, runner, athletic guy, really enjoys getting out on the bike and knocking out some miles wherever he goes. But I just, I feel like I would want it to be somebody that while I’m on course, and this person goes by me, like I would want it to be somebody so attention-grabbing, kind of like a Chuck Norris, that for just a moment it would kind of take my mind off the pain I was going through, right, on the run course. So, here’s what I thought of, what if you could have Robert Downey Jr., Iron Man himself, come by you? And even better, if he was in a custom tri suit that made him look like the superhero Iron Man. It’d be like Iron Man Inception, right, to have superhero Ironman, Robert Downey Jr., pass by you during an Ironman. So, that’s my pick. If I could have any celebrity pass me, it would specifically be Robert Downey Jr. dressed as Iron Man.
Jeff: Him and Chuck Norris can be doing one-arm pushups in T1 also.
Elizabeth: There we go.
On to the main set. Going in 3, 2, 1.
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Of all the gear choices triathletes have to make, what running shoe we put on our feet is one of the most crucial. And with a large variety of models produced by dozens of viable brands all marketed as the latest and greatest, making the crucial shoe choice is not always easy to do. Jeff, I first heard you talk about running shoes at a training camp down in Galveston, Texas, and I just loved every minute of your session. But before we get too far into shoe talk, can you tell us a little bit more about your background and studying running mechanics?
Jeff: Yes, so thank you. I’ve spent years working in a biomechanics lab in graduate school. I stayed a few years after grad school working in this lab, utilizing everything from force plate work, accelerometers back when accelerometers were fairly new to the game. They were only in the Wii remote control at the time. So, we would put electrodes on your lower patella and we could measure the amount of shock going up that tibia and into the patella, and we would prescribe certain shoes and drills based on that amount of shock as far as a rehab goes there. Did a lot of work with electrodes and VO2 testing, metabolic carts, hydrostatic underwater weighing, body composition, biomechanics, you name it. Really, really enjoyed my time spent in graduate school and years thereafter. I have a Level 3 shoe expert and certification. I’ve conducted hundreds of gait analysis through Austin Aquatics working at their facility for five-plus years.
Andrew: Now, I do want to say for the folks listening today, Jeff is like, you have to understand what Jeff just did was like one of the hardest things for Jeff Raines to do because he’s a super humble guy. He very much hates boasting on himself and talking about what other things he’s done. But Jeff, I wanted you to share all that because when I kind of heard your qualifications, it showed me this is a guy that whatever he says about shoes, there’s a reason he’s saying it. It’s not an opinion, it’s not that he’s just a YouTube shoe reviewer out there that just has thoughts and has preferences. You’ve studied this stuff. You’ve looked at hundreds of people’s gaits and the way they run and the way certain shoes affect them. And so folks, as we work our way through the episode today, kind of know that when Jeff talks, it’s from a scientific standpoint of, he’s done the research, he’s put in the time, and he’s got a lot of great stuff to say. So, Jeff, thanks for taking the time to say all that. Now, Elizabeth, you like triathlon but you love running. When did you first get into running?
Elizabeth: Yes, I mean, you said that well. I love triathlon but even more than that, I love the run portion of triathlon. I would say, gosh, I first got into running to impress the guy that I had a huge crush on at the time. He’s now my husband, so I think that everything worked out pretty well there in my favor. But really, that’s what got me started. I played soccer in college and running was part of my daily training, but I had never participated in a stand-alone running event. So, my college summers were spent working as a summer camp counselor and Charles, my husband, worked at that camp too. And he was keeping up his run training for the college cross country season. So, we would get up each morning and go for a run before our campers would wake up. And when we started dating, we dated long distance and this was kind of our way to do something apart, but yet together. So, we would pick a race, train from it in Nebraska and Illinois, where we were attending colleges. And then we’d travel to kind of the race as a weekend date. So, I mean, being very honest, I got into running to impress a guy. So–
Andrew: And it worked.
Elizabeth: I guess so.
Andrew: It was effective. Shout out to Charles, wherever he is right now.
Andrew: But let’s start with the basics and get a little bit more in depth as we go. Now, there are a ton of running shoe terms that tell us what a particular shoe may be like. So, let’s walk through some of the most common and tell the people what each of these things mean. The first thing I think somebody sees when they go into a running store or looking at a particular shoe is there are shoes that are neutral versus having some sort of stability. Jeff, what are those referring to?
Jeff: Yeah, good question. I mean, first of all, there are 26 different bones in the foot, 33 different joint structures, and over 100 muscles, joints, tendons, and ligaments. It’s a very complex system, yet very, very adaptable. We have to be precise in knowing what shoe that we choose, and then what shoe that we need. Literature will even say that approximately 75% of just the general population will and do have some sort of foot problem. So, picking the right type of shoe is something that can be a huge aid in rehabbing foot problems and/or preventing future foot issues. There are different types of shoes that can provide aid in guiding your foot through the four main phases of one’s stride, which would be the impact phase, the midfoot phase, toe-off phase, and then that glide phase. Assistance can be given through correctly prescribing and choosing a specialty shoe that can aid and guide the foot in a more efficient and injury kind of reducing direction. But there isn’t a shoe that will cure any issue. There is a shoe out there that will make you become a midfoot runner versus heel striker.
Andrew: Even though some advertise themselves as such.
Jeff: Some do and some have even gotten in trouble for that. So, they are aids, I can’t emphasize that enough that there are shoes that can be tools to help you. But focusing on curing an issue at the root of the problem is always something that I recommend. There’s not a shoe that gives perfect running form or perfectly cures an injury just by simply wearing it. There isn’t a shoe out there that makes one become a midfoot runner as well. It’s a conscious effort of neuromuscularly learning the most efficient biomechanics as possible.
Andrew: So, you’re telling me that the shoe can do that for me, that I have to do that for me? Come on, Jeff.
Jeff: Correct. You have to think about what you’re doing while wearing certain types of shoes. To answer the neutral versus stability, when you walk into a running store, typically half of the shoes in there will be neutral, non-corrective shoes. So, from heel to toe, the shoe is the same density, it’s the same durometer of foam from left to right from toe to heel. So, whatever you do naturally with your gait, you will do that in a neutral shoe. Stability shoes can often be understood as corrective shoes, let’s say. A lot of people don’t like that term, but for simplicity, just know that –
Andrew: That’s what it’s doing. That’s what it is.
Jeff: It is. It’s moving the foot. It’s adjusting your gait in a strategic way. So, half the shoes in any specialty running store, in particular, will be those kinds of “corrective,” more stability category shoes and the other half will be neutral. Now, in that stability or corrective category and stability, meaning correction for overpronating. A little bit of pronating is good. Pronating is the foot rolling inward in attenuating the arch. So, pronation would be a zero degree up to the, kind of Golden Rule, 15 degrees. So, anything inside of zero to 15 degrees of an inward movement or roll or wobble, so to speak, is healthy. It’s natural. It’s attenuating the arch. You’re using your arch. But anything greater than that 15 degree rule tends to be or can be a wasted movement that can tend to cause injury.
Andrew: And so folks who’s feet roll more than 15 degrees inward, those are the folks who are looking, that need to be looking for the stability section?
Jeff: A stability shoe can be an option in aiding that unhealthy amount of movement. Now, in this stability category, there’s mild stability, moderate stability, and high stability, which is called motion control. And all of those are based on how much one overpronates, and again, overpronating is anything over 15 degrees. Now supinating is rolling outward, pushing kind of up and off, maybe emphasizing the pinky toe, staying on the outside of the foot and not getting a healthy amount of an attenuated arch. So, for supinators who tend to have more IT band issues but higher cushion, neutral shoes would be more recommended.
Andrew: So, the next thing I think people are used to seeing, you see neutral, you see stability, and that was super helpful in knowing what that means. Just in terms of the shoe itself, I always see people advertise, “the upper is made of this, and the midsole has that, and the outsole has that.” What are those three terms kind of mean, the upper, midsole, outsole?
Jeff: The upper, the midsole, the outsole are the components that make up the entire shoe. And there are certain selling points, there are certain marketing trends that are focused on creating the perfect shoe. So, you cannot spend just all of your time as a manufacturer focusing on the outsole and forget about the upper. And so these three components make up the entire shoe. Let’s start with the upper. The upper would be anything from that insert in the shoe to the top of the shoe. You’re not landing on it, it’s covering the upper portion of your foot. But this could be anything from kind of heat, welded uppers, you know, versus stitching. A lot of brands are now heat welding their uppers and getting rid of a lot of stitching. This cuts back on weight, it drops friction levels, which can cause blisters. So, getting rid of the seams is something that we’re seeing a lot of companies are incorporating. Weaving, Nike does that. They even actually incorporate a lot of structural components across the world as far as creating the perfect fit of an upper. Like, they use the bridge structure of the Golden Gate Bridge, the cabling system, they follow some of those patterns even in creating the perfect upper to mold and hold your foot in the best way possible. Things like asymmetrical lacing following the natural curve of the foot, it’s not just an aesthetic appeal, it’s a comfort. It causes less material as well which makes it light. A lot of companies now are machine-making their uppers through an algorithm, kind of a one-piece upper. So, just the technology is just amazing what they’re doing now.
Andrew: And that’s all to make the upper more form fitting, more comfortable, is that the end goal there?
Jeff: Absolutely, all of the above. Lighter, more comfortable, making you more comfortable, hence you a faster athlete. But a lot of shoes are even going up and up and up in price each year because even more of these super technical aspects are improving. The midsole is the cushioning level. So, it starts from the first impact underneath your foot to what would be the section that touches the ground. So, that would be the midsole. It’s not what you see aesthetically, on the bottom of the shoe when you roll it over and look at it, but it’s kind of like that stack height some people refer to it as. A lot of companies will use EVA foam and they adjust the densities of that foam to make it firmer or lighter. Again, this affects the weight, but a lot of companies will use gel, even wave plates, air pads, fresh foam, pro empower grid, carbon fiber plates are even being thrown into the mix. So, each brand kind of has their go-to niche as far as how they create their cushioning throughout that midsole region. The outsole would be the bottom of the shoe. So, the cushioning has been created, and now we need some sort of protection for the impact phase of the foot strike.
So, the bottom of the shoe typically consists of some sort of a rubber. Now there’s carbon rubber versus blown rubber. And the carbon rubber tends to be black on the bottom of your shoe, but the carbon rubber is a heavier longer lasting rubber. If you look at the bottom of your shoe, the outside of the heel, maybe underneath the big toe, you know, more traditional kind of heavier shoes, you will see a lot of black on the bottom of that shoe. Heavier shoes in each brand will have those, they last longer but that carbon rubber goes from heel to toe. Now, if you want to start making the shoe lighter, a lot of brands will replace a lot of that carbon rubber with blown rubber. Blown rubber usually has a unique color aspect to it. Nike does a good job of differentiating the colors of black versus their other rubbers.
Andrew: So, that’s not just for fun and to make the shoe look pretty, right, that actually does something, it’s showing you what the different rubbers are in the bottom of your outsole?
Jeff: Absolutely. So, surface areas on the outsole of the shoes that do not get as great of an impact, companies will use blown rubber in those sections because it’s lighter. It wears out a little bit faster but it’s a lot lighter. Areas of the foot, like when we walk, everybody lands on the outside of their heel first when they walk and then they progress through the other three stages of the foot strike. And so on almost every shoe, at least a casual shoe or your more traditional kind of heel strikers shoe will have carbon rubber on the outside of the heel, almost every shoe. A lot of racing flats, you will not see hardly any of that black carbon rubber or even blown rubber on the heel of the shoe because more elite runners tend to stay more midfoot focused. So, you will see more carbon rubber and blown rubber on those higher impact portions of the outsole.
Andrew: So, tell me about a traditional shoe versus a more minimal shoe, because that was a movement that was really popular. Not even too long ago, people were really looking for more minimal shoes. Is there a big difference between the two of those?
Jeff: Absolutely. And the whole minimal versus traditional debate can cause a lot of discussion.
Andrew: Yes, it can.
Jeff: 10 years ago, almost all brands kind of understood and focused on closer to a higher stack height, a heel-to-toe offset, where the heel used to sit much higher than the height of the toe inside the shoe. So, the offset or the drop of a shoe, people tend to understand that as the thickness of the midsole which is not necessarily true. You can have a shoe that has hardly any midsole that still has a significant or more traditional drop. Not every brand and their go-to shoes used to be arguably a 12-millimeter offset. The heel would sit at least 12 millimeters higher than the height of the toe inside the shoe. Now, the more traditional is kind of understood, I would call it, an eight- to 12-millimeter offset is deemed more traditional now. Anything flatter than an eight-millimeter offset tends to be a shoe that is favoring the more minimal direction or that more minimal category. Now most people think of that minimal shoe is that, kind of, barefoot roll up the shoe, put it in your pocket.
Andrew: I mean that’s exactly the mental image you get when you think of a minimal shoe, right, that the Vibrams, almost next to nothing in the sole.
Jeff: Seven to 10 years ago, the minimal phase was a super minimal phase as I call it.
Andrew: Did you read “Born to Run,” Jeff?
Jeff: Absolutely. And that pretty much started this trend, right. And minimal shoes started off actually super minimal, zero drop, get rid of the cushion in midsole. Heel and toe, same exact height inside the shoe and all we have is some carbon rubber between the bottom of your foot and the ground. Now, minimal can still be that, but there are variations and different levels in that minimal category. You can still have zero drop but you can add 16 millimeters of cushioning midsole underneath that drop so you’re still getting the effects of a true, insignificant minimal, but you have protection and cushion underneath that drop. So, there are four millimeters, six millimeters with all sorts of different stack heights of the midsole, underneath that drop. But in my experience, anything flatter than an eight-millimeter offset tends to be what I would call going in that more minimal direction.
Andrew: And you referenced stack height just a moment ago, and so just expound on what stack height is for folks that have heard that term but aren’t super familiar with it.
Jeff: So, again, stack height is the distance between the ground and the bottom of your foot. So, stack heights can be very significant and very minimal. But as far as a minimal shoe and using that term in the shoe world, minimal tends to lean more now at least in the running and triathlon world, as far as the offset of your heel to toe. So, that stack height is the amount of cushion so to speak.
Andrew: So, those marshmallow-y, pillow-y, wonderful cloud-looking shoes are higher in stack height?
Jeff: It tends to be the more cushion, the more gel or the more air pockets inside of that midsole constitute the stack height. And then the drop is something that would be kind of added on top of that.
Andrew: Now, I think the last terms I see frequently and I always have to wonder, okay, well what’s the difference? What’s better? What’s worse? You know, some shoes advertise themselves as being firm, and others advertise themselves as being quite flexible. What’s the big difference there?
Jeff: Good question. I think there are two main differences. People like firm versus flexible and vice versa. One would be like the amount of return that you get. So, a firmer shoe, you’re going to feel the ground more like in cycling. The higher you pump up those bike tires, the more that you’re going to feel and respond off of bumpy terrain. A firmer shoe, you tend to spend less time on the ground, so it can be an aid to give you more return if your gait is in a way that you feel is efficient enough to get that return off of. Now, softer shoes will absorb more shock. So, if you feel like your form breaks down a little bit, the second half of long runs or the second half of races, some people kind of like a softer shoe, that might even be a little bit more flexible, because it feels better.
Andrew: A little easier on the foot, perhaps.
Jeff: Absolutely. Maybe rehabbing an injury or you’re new to upping your mileage. People don’t necessarily care about shaving one second per mile. And a firmer shoe will also, it can be faster in some aspects, but you can be more sore the next day racing or doing a longer run in a more firm shoe. People will tend to train in slightly softer, heavier, more traditional shoes, and people will tend to do more speed work or racing in slightly more minimal and/or maybe even a firmer shoe.
Andrew: So, with all these running shoe terms in mind, Jeff is there a certain amount of flexibility, shoe drop, stack height, etc. that we should all be looking for?
Jeff: That I would say, Andrew, is the million-dollar question for coaches, for runners, for athletes. You know, it all depends on your history. It depends on your goals, the race that you’re training for. Let’s say that your Ironman bike course is super hilly. Well, you would adjust the components on your bike to accommodate that type of race, that type of terrain,, the length of your crank would be impacted. The decision that you make in the depth of your disk. Flatter courses, you’re going to adjust to those components on your bike. So, let’s say that it’s your first marathon and you have a history of getting injured. I would say that you would stick to traditional, stick to that eight to 12 millimeter offset shoe, point six ounces. It is not going to affect your time that much. So, I would stick to a little bit more cushion, something a little bit more traditional. If you’re a beginner and you’re new to a certain distance, I would stick to a traditional drop shoe in that eight- to 12-millimeter category.
But let’s just say that you’re doing your first 5K, and let’s say that you’ve had a gait analysis and you’re riding the line of meeting stability and not. So, maybe that angle of pronation is about 15 degrees. You might say, oh, no. Well, I think I might need a mild stability shoe because maybe I mildly overpronate. Well, if you’re injury free, and you don’t have a history of injury and in your long runs are only three to four miles, then you could probably stick in that more traditional, neutral category shoe. So, everyone has a unique story. If you are injury free if you’re someone who is a proven runner or you have raced successfully three to five times at a given distance, and you don’t have any significant inefficiencies, then I would say that you are an ideal candidate to start mixing in a more minimal shoe, if you would like. And so if you do that, I would recommend that you work your way into that minimal shoe patiently. Don’t go zero drop, no cushion, the first time you ever wear a minimal shoe. I’d get a four- to eight-millimeter offset shoe with a decent amount of cushioning and use that as a stepping stone. 75-90% of your running needs to be in that more traditional category shoe even if you’re an elite runner, that eight to 12 millimeter offset, higher cushion –
Andrew: So, it’s not that you outgrow that or become such an efficient or good runner that you can move beyond that. That is just the standard best training shoe from what you found, right?
Jeff: Absolutely. I would say that everyone needs their go-to traditional training shoe that they’re using for the majority of their runs. I kind of use this rule of thumb, if it’s a workout or a run where you don’t care about shaving 10 to 15 seconds per mile, go with that more cushioned, more traditional, safer shoe. Okay. If you have a minimal shoe, you’ve had success in it, I would always just mix that in. Do not do every step of your running in a shoe that has less than an eight-millimeter offset.
Andrew: Now, Elizabeth, everyone’s foot is very, very different, and choosing a shoe that fits well is critical. How can we tell if a shoe is a good fit for our foot?
Elizabeth: All right. So, there’s a couple of things to consider when determining if a particular shoe is a good fit for your foot. I know that Jeff has talked us through a lot with this 15-degree rule, and that’s always a good starting point for looking at a shoe and if that might be the right fit. So, if you have normal pronation, which your foot is rolling inward up to 15 degrees, that’s kind of optimally distributing the force of impact. And so you can choose from a variety of shoes that include a neutral trainer. Now, if you overpronate, so your foot is rolling inward more than kind of that ideal 15 degrees, which is somewhat common in people with flatter feet, then you probably choose more of what we’ve been calling a stability shoe to help evenly distribute the impact there. And so level of pronation and the natural movement of the foot when walking or running is certainly a factor in that determination. But then having said that, it’s not the end-all answer either for if a shoe is a good fit. This is where gait analysis is very important and the movement above the foot itself must also be considered. So, pronation gets such a bad rap, but I mean, it isn’t all bad. We are going to pronate, that is a natural part of the movement of the foot in walking and running.
Now, some moderate overpronators have no movement of the natural pattern of the knee, and therefore, they require no additional stability from a shoe itself. Again, this also goes to what is your level of experience? Do you have a history of injury? What race are you training for? That’s going to determine not only comfort and fit, but what’s most appropriate. And then once you have kind of the level of support within the shoe determined, you do need to consider sizing as well. So, a running shoe should be snug enough that there’s not movement of the foot within the shoe but it’s not so tight that it’s going to create areas of friction while running as well as that will create some discomfort, potentially blister. Honestly, the best way to tell when you’re looking at a whole bunch of shoes and seeing what’s going to be your best fit is to try them on, see what feels best on your foot. Comfort is really going to be a big determining factor at the end of all this.
Jeff: I use the half-of-a-thumb-width rule, as far as –
Andrew: Half-of-a-thumb width, not a full –
Jeff: Correct. And so running shoe sizing actually runs a size bigger, no pun intended, it runs a size bigger than your traditional dress shoe. So, if you’re a dress-shoe-size, men’s nine, the exact same size and fit tends to be one size up. So, you would be one size higher in that run shoe. But we also got to remember that when we exercise, when we run in particular, our bodies heat up, our bodies swell, our feet swell. And so I like as long as your heel isn’t picking up out of the back of the shoe, it’s always better to pick a run shoe that is slightly too big rather than slightly too small. Our foot can and will swell when we run and if we have that half of a thumb width between our longest toe and the end of the shoe and our heel isn’t picking up out of the back of the shoe. That is the perfect fit.
Andrew: Now, Jeff, you talked a little bit earlier about how much of your running you should do in a more traditional shoe versus how much you can do in something more minimal or something different. And you mentioned kind of mixing other shoes in. Is there a right type of shoe that we should all be doing all of our running in, or is it good to add some variety in the brands and the types of shoes that we use in our training?
Jeff: Variety is good. There are brands and, actually every brand has a shoe that they kind of understand could be in a one size fits-all so to speak as far as hey this shoe is good for long runs and speed run. Oh, you could also race on it if you would like. So, there are ways of getting around if you had to pick one shoe for all of your different types of running. There are some shoes that I recommend for that. But in an ideal, and we will get to that in just a second actually, but I would recommend that in an ideal world, serious runners training regularly, mix in definitely different types of shoes, different brands. I mean, obviously, everyone has their favorite. But in an ideal world, I would have three types of shoes, okay. One would be that 75%-90% of my running would be that just traditional, go-to, higher cushioned, slightly heavier, eight- to 12-millimeter offset shoe. Again, that can be stability or neutral depending on what you need. And just to kind of reiterate stability, like Elizabeth said, overpronating isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But stability shoes, what they do is some will have, kind of like what they will even advertise, as a rail as far as being underneath that arch or on the inside portion of your foot, or the density of the durometer of the EVA foam on that inside kind of arched side of the foot will be a denser foam than the rest of the foam around it. And so it can be a ramp or a wall. So, how does a stability shoe in that more traditional category guide your foot in a safer direction?
Andrew: It essentially prevents it from rolling inward like it wants to do or is trying to do.
Jeff: Absolutely. It’s an aid, it’s an attempt to help guide that inward, wasted movement into a forward-moving, more efficient, toe-off phase. And so that’s what stability is. That corrective piece is typically in the arch. Now, there’s what is called early stage overpronating, where you roll in more towards the ankle rather than just a flatter foot or the arch collapsing in the whole foot rolling in. But I do want to emphasize that you can have flat, caveman feet, no arch and not overpronate at all. You can also have super-high, beautiful ballerina arches, but when you run and put weight on them, they can collapse or be inefficient for you. So, a lot of people will say, well, I have nice high arches, so I don’t even need to get my gait looked at.
Andrew: I’ve heard people say I have flat feet so I can’t really be a runner.
Andrew: I’ve heard that side of it too. I will say this, when you’re at the stage in a running shoe podcast where the term “early stage pronation” is incorporated, you’ve officially gone full-run nerd in that podcast, right? But Jeff, I do want to say this because I think it’s an important thing to distinguish; you’ve gotten at this several, several times. And I think what I’m picking up on as the average triathlete, the average runner out there, is that kind of your reasoning for wanting people to do a majority of their running in that traditional shoe with a little more cushion, it sounds like those types of shoes protect your foot a little bit better. Is that kind of the primary motivation there?
Jeff: Absolutely. It’s a safety. As a coach, especially for beginners, I will put them in the most traditional safest route, and then it’s kind of like a game. They can earn the more minimal fun shoe. But in an ideal world mixing in three different types of shoes, and we’ve spent a lot of time on number one, but yes –
Andrew: Yeah, and for good reason.
Jeff: Now, there will be the outlier or the runner out there that will swear by, “I have a zero-cushion shoe. I’ve run tons of ultramarathons. I am injury free. It’s been 10 years.” Absolutely.
Andrew: If that’s the case, good for you.
Jeff: Yes, to each their own, there will always be both ends of the spectrum. But in my experience, all the lab work, all the kids, all the adults, all the triathletes, and all the gait analysis I’ve done, the majority needs to have that traditional go-to safe shoe that they do the majority of their running in. The second shoe is what I would call a middle-weight shoe. It’s something that’s not super, super minimal, but it’s not something that is super bulky or super traditional. It’s a shoe that might be in that four- to eight-millimeter offset category, depending on the cushion level. But a shoe that would be good for longer tempos, a little bit of speed work tempos, fartleks, hill repeats, you know, more of a quality, day shoe, not just a super raw speed, super anaerobic-like track workout, but just kind of that end-all, be-all, just go-to for, you know, if there’s a workout where you’re going to do long easy stuff, hills, that’s that middleweight shoe. And then the third would be kind of your more aggressive or the shoe that you might race in. I personally mix in this more racing kind of “flat” of a shoe, a racing flat, about six to eight weeks out of kind of my big A race. I will then start to incorporate that third shoe, that race shoe.
Andrew: So, it’s not even on a regular basis. It’s really just to kind of prep yourself for race day.
Jeff: Yes. And again, this is unique to each type of runner and their own personal opinion. But I will do a lot of my speed work, even track workouts and that more middle-weight category issue earlier on in the season. As I’m mixing B races, you know, I might get 50-60% into my season, especially six to eight weeks out of a big race, I will start to mix in that more minimal racing flat shoe, the one that I’m going to race in. I might do a 10-20 minute easy run off of the bike here and there. I might do my last 5K assessment updating my paces in my zones going into that a race in that more racing flat shoe. And I put “flat” in quotations, racing “flats,” you kind of think of the cross country spikes, where you can roll them up and put them in your pocket but they might poke you because of those super long spikes on the bottom. We tend to think of those kinds as fitted socks, glorified socks with spikes on them. A racing flat doesn’t have to be a zero drop, no cushion, or very low cushion.
Andrew: They’re very improperly named.
Jeff: Yes. And Elizabeth is going to touch on this a little bit more, but something that Nike has done throughout this entire minimal phase, fad, trend, you name it, you deem that how you want it to be. But Nike has kept the racing flat category of their shoes in the more traditional offset category, it –
Andrew: Those famous Nike record-breaking shoes are what kind of a drop? Jeff, tell us.
Jeff: Well, you’ve got eight- to 10-millimeter offset is the offset that Nike has stuck with for the sub-two-hour marathon attempts, which has now been broken. So, even the fastest most elite runners in the world are sticking with more traditional drops in racing, “flats.” So, it’s very interesting and it’s very even controversial. So, I’m someone who’s been injury free, knock on wood, for years. Ice could be an ideal candidate to go super minimal, or mix in a super minimal shoe for more of my training, but I choose not to.
Andrew: So, Jeff, people hear that and they say, because I heard this talk, all this information from you at triathlon camp earlier in the year, and I immediately started going out on a search for what is a good eight- to 10- to 12-millimeter drop shoe that fits my foot well, because that was your recommendation. And I was able to find one and I started running in it and I’ve had positive results because of it. So, people hear what you just said, they say, okay, I need to find that first and then from there, I can have my other shoes, my middle weight, my race day shoes that I mix in. But even in that, you’ve talked about how every brand has all three of those. How do you distinguish maybe what brand might be the best fit for you?
Jeff: Just reading reviews online alone will just confuse you. And I even understand shoes, the brands, and the different makes and models and how they work, and reading reviews makes me go cross-eyed. So, what I would do is educate yourself firsthand, go to a specialty running shoe store. First, get fitted, know what category shoe that you need first. If you have an injury, if you have an ache or a pain, or you have significant wasted movement, fix that issue first. If 75% of people out there have foot problems in general, and we have those 33 different joint structures in the foot, so those of us that are running with inefficient biomechanics, we’re causing and can cause a lot of issues on our feet. So, first of all, find out what category shoe you need first. And then what I would do is go to your special running shoe store and have an associate bring out each brand’s version of that shoe. So, every brand has a mild stability shoe, a moderate stability shoe, a neutral shoe, multiple choices of those kinds of middle weight shoes, racing flats. So, find the category that you need. Okay, great, my coach wants me to start off in a mild stability shoe. All right. So, then you have the associate bring out each brand’s version of that shoe. And I tell my athletes that pick the one that if you are blindfolded, the one that feels the best on your foot. But there are definitely particular branding and selling points and claims to fame for each kind of brand of shoes. So, each brand creates their cushioning –
Andrew: Everybody has their famous foam. Everybody has the one thing that makes their shoe different from the rest.
Jeff: And which one is the best? Well, that is the million-dollar question, kind of like Chevrolet Silverado versus Dodge Ram versus GMC Sierra. I mean, to each, their own there. Finding what your foot likes the best, which one is softer or firmer than others, what you’re training for, the best thing to do is go to these specialty running stores. They’ll let you try out a shoe for 30 days. A lot of them will have treadmills in the store for you to run in them before you buy them.
Andrew: Yeah, so let’s talk about that, Elizabeth. When you’re walking into a running shoe store and you’re looking to cut through the noise, you’re looking to find out what’s the best thing for you, there’s clearly a lot going on with making this decision that we’ve already talked about. But when you go into a store, looking for your next training shoe, where do you start?
Elizabeth: Well, I mean, this can be an incredibly overwhelming experience. I mean, you walk into a specialty store and you’ve got a wall of shoes in front of you. And there seem to be this wall of shoes that are incredibly alike and incredibly different all at the same time.
Andrew: And all colorful.
Jeff: Oh yeah, exactly. So, think back to the very beginning with what Raines went through earlier in the episode and all of the differences between the shoes, you’ve got different upper, midsole, outsoles, stack height. I mean goodness, there are a lot of differences even though you’re just staring at a wall and you’re like, “How do I know?” I would say that if you’re going to go in and you’re looking for a running shoe, just keep in mind that this is not a 10-15 minute transaction. To properly do this, it is going to take some time. My first suggestion would be to ask the associate there in the store to explain how the store is divided. So, you’ve got a wall of shoes. Is this divided by brand, is it divided by type of shoe, is one side of the store going to be all of your stability shoes, is the other side your neutral? Where are the minimal ones, what models in each brand have been around the longest, which are your kind of new or trendy ones per se? And plan on spending a lot of time there, asking questions, doing some research, even bring a notepad or take some notes on your phone. Then work with the associate to determine what type of shoe is going to match the movement pattern of your foot. I mean, we’ve already covered a lot with that. And it’s even better if you’ve already come into the store knowing that or having done a gait analysis, but if not, then a reputable run store is going to watch you walk, walk to run, with and without shoes, maybe even capturing some video of your movements to help you make that determination. This really is kind of a further discussion where you are looking for some input from the experts, and it’s going to take you some time.
Andrew: So, some folks out there have tried enough running shoes to know that they have difficult feet to fit. Now, Jeff, you and I have had many, many conversations about my own feet because I have a high volume foot. And I find myself at home in shoes that do not have a heel cup. That’s almost specifically like a term I have to look for. If a shoe has a heel cup, my heel is probably not going to fit in it well. I also look for shoes with a wider toe box. Now, for others out there who seemed to struggle with finding the perfect Cinderella fit, what would you advise them to do?
Jeff: Definitely to reiterate a little bit about what Elizabeth said, don’t be afraid to sit down with an associate. But on top of that, I would ask the front desk customer service if there is kind of a specialist shoe fitter. Maybe you’re overweight, you’re a little timid or you know you’re more injury prone or maybe you’re a super elite runner, and you have a certain history. Or maybe you have a significant injury You want to work with a specialist that understands some of the physiology out there. So, don’t be afraid to sit down with someone. It can be very intimidating but that’s what they’re there for. Have them assess you. A lot of them will watch you walk. I would just encourage you to have them do so, barefoot and with a shoe on. Your gait is different with a shoe on, there are muscles and tendons in your foot that you don’t use in a shoe. And so have them watch you barefoot, have them watch you standing, walking versus running. And if you are doing a true gait analysis being filmed, I would make sure that you are being assessed wearing a neutral shoe. And again, whatever you do naturally, you will see that movement in a neutral shoe, so we wouldn’t want to be assessed in a corrective shoe because that shoe could –
Andrew: It’s doing something to your gait.
Jeff: Exactly. And so, Is that you doing that or the shoe? So, just make sure that you just know the distance that you’re training for. Are you new? Are you just general fitness running? Are you training for something, and make sure that there’s a specialist that can guide you in that direction.
Andrew: I’ve seen some stores, they’ll advertise like heat maps or something that you stand on, and it shows them what parts of your foot are really applying pressure. Are things like that helpful or is that just kind of marketing noise?
Jeff: In my opinion, it can be a little bit of both, but it is a very effective tool. I did a lot of force plates work. Someone, I would say, “Hey, Andrew run across the lab and touch the door on the other side of the room.” And as you’re running across, we would have hidden random force plates in the floor of our lab and we could measure the amount of impact at heel strike, forefoot, toe off. We could measure the amount of time spent on the ground, and we can measure the amount of pronation, overpronation, or supination. And what we would do is we would prescribe certain drills, certain rehab, plyometric training, neural muscular activating exercises, and the arch is so adaptable. So, if you have found that perfect Cinderella shoe, just know that your gait changes regularly. If you’re in between seasons, or you went from marathon training to 5K or speed work up to distance, your gait changes, and your mechanics change with that. If you were fit in a moderate stability shoe five years ago or an orthotic six years ago, you won’t always need or hopefully, shouldn’t always need that insert. So, just know that that corrective shoe isn’t your shoe or your Cinderella shoe for life. Your goal should always be to wean back into that more natural and neutral category. So, just know that the arch, the foot is extremely, extremely adaptable.
Andrew: Now there are several brands that advertise special insoles that they say will help your feet feel even more at home in your running shoes. Just in general, do you recommend insoles or not?
Jeff: You know if they’re prescribed from a doctor or a podiatrist, absolutely. Follow your doctor’s, your coach’s advice. But just know that there are specialty shoes in each brand that are specifically made to fit a custom orthotics. So, yes, there are corrective shoes out there, there are non-corrective neutral shoes. So, if you have a custom orthotic, I would utilize a brand-specific shoe for certain orthotics, or make sure that that custom orthotic is put in a neutral shoe. So, you’re getting the correction out of the piece or that insert that that doctor or specialist wants you to have. And then you wouldn’t want to stack a stability custom insert on top of a moderate stability shooting, right. Stacking stability on top of stability could be overkill. So, you’re either getting your correction out of the specific shoe itself, or you’re getting your correction if needed out of an insert prescribed to you.
Elizabeth: If I can jump in, I completely agree with that. When I first started running, I wore a corrective insole within a neutral shoe for like the first few months, and then was able to kind of graduate to a stability shoe without any corrective insoles. And so, it is kind of that progression that you don’t need to stack stability of the insert in a stability shoe.
Jeff: On top of stability, yeah.
Elizabeth: Right, you don’t need to stack those together. But if you have an orthotic that is prescribed by a doctor, placing that within a neutral shoe may be a great option as you’re starting off. And then again, we’ve talked about how adaptable the foot is and the arches and then you might be able to graduate out of that insole into a stability shoe itself to still offer some correction but maybe not as much as what you had with the corrective insoles.
Andrew: Yeah, you walk into a running store, or even a doctor’s office and maybe you step on a force plate. And you walk into a running store and you have a wobble and their goal is when you walk out of their front door, that you have a shoe that keeps you stable. But if you think about it deep down, you’re still overpronating. That piece in the shoe or that insert prescribed to you is just rolling you back in that safer category. So, the store has it in there, everyone’s goal is to do what Elizabeth has done successfully is to wean back into neutral, that should be everyone’s goal. If you’re prescribed a moderate stability shoe, maybe in four to six months when you’re ready to buy your new shoe, maybe through your rehab, you have graduated or wean back down into mild stability and maybe the next year you’re fully are in the neutral category. If you are prescribed an insert from a podiatrist or a doctor, get it updated. Tons and tons of times have I had people walk into my store and say, “Hey, I need a shoe that fits this orthotic.” Great. I’ve got five, let me go get them. But out of curiosity, why do you have that insert? Six years ago, I had plantar fasciitis. Three years ago, my arch was hurting and –
Andrew: And they’re still worried about that but they may not have that issue anymore.
Jeff: Absolutely. And so that insert or the shoe is keeping your foot stable but curing it at the root of the problem is always and should be the goal.
Andrew: Okay. So, before we move on to our cool down, we’ve covered so many individual things about what makes a running shoe a running shoe, what makes them different, what makes one maybe better than the other, what type of shoe we should do most of our training in. We’ve covered so many things, but just to give the people kind of some concrete examples to walk away with today, I’m just going to kind of go through maybe a couple different types of shoes that somebody out there might be looking for. And I literally want from both of you your concrete examples of oh, someone needs a shoe for trail running, this, this, this Okay. So, we’re just going to pound through a list, and just rapid fire style, tell me what shoes and these categories you guys recommend. You guys ready?
Jeff: Yes, do that.
Elizabeth: Let’s do it.
Andrew: All right. Number one, what shoe brands generally work best for runners with wider feet?
Jeff: I tend to go to ASICS and Brooks. They tend to have a wider toe box for most normal widths. Normal widths being kind of that D width for men, B width for women. Know that in specialty shoes, 2E and 4E would be, believe it or not, one size and two size bigger. But a lot of these brands will come in widths. But for traditional widths, ASICS and Brooks for me tend to have a slightly wider toe box.
Andrew: Now, what are a few shoes that are great for marathon training?
Jeff: I will always go to that safer, higher cushion, traditional eight- to 12-millimeter drop shoe. So, in ASICS, the Cumulus 10 millimeter, the Nimbus, also 10 millimeter. Brooks’ version, I would say the Ghost 12 millimeter, offset glycerin, is a 10. Nike’s go-to and one of the shoes that’s been around the longest would be the Pegasus and kind of that big brother version, the Air Max, being 10-millimeter offset.
Elizabeth: On the Mizuno side, you’ve got the Wave Rider and you’ve got the Enigma, both with a 12-millimeter offset. With Saucony you have the Saucony Ride, you have the Saucony Triumph, eight-millimeter offsets there. New Balance, you have the 880, which is a 10 millimeter, you’ve got the 1080, which is an eight millimeter. So, all those would be good for marathon training as well.
Jeff: And I want to emphasize that the shoes that were just mentioned, all of those are kind of that go-to, neutral category shoe. So, each one of those has kind of that brother or sister version in the stability category. So, what we named would be those go-to neutral.
Andrew: Got it. What are a few shoes you would recommend for distance racing?
Jeff: Well, whatever drop suits you the best, I would still recommend a decent amount of midsole cushion, kind of below that offset. I personally recommend for distance racing, that four- to 10-millimeter offset that can support longer distances. We mentioned earlier that Nike stayed in that more traditional offset with some of their racers for long distance. Elizabeth, do you want to –
Elizabeth: Oh yeah, definitely because this is like my thing right now.
Jeff: A Nike fan girl.
Elizabeth: Oh yes. Right now I am just loving the Nike shoes for racing. I’d say that they are worth the hype that they are receiving. I raced my early season events in the Nike Vaporfly 4%. So, you’ve got your 10-millimeter drop there. And then the marathon that I raced just a few weeks ago I did and the new Nike ZoomX, the [Vapor]fly NEXT%, so still eight-millimeter drop there.
Jeff: And those tend to be the industry leaders right now for that kind of marathon racer, but I would say other brands are getting on this kind of safer drop with more cushion. Like the new Hoka Carbon X is a five millimeter drop, very similar to kind of that Nike ideology there that Elizabeth just mentioned. The Hoka Clifton was my go-to for the last three to four years, being a five-millimeter drop now in the Clifton 6. The Saucony Kinvara is a four-millimeter offset, great marathon racer. The Adidas Boost Technology is another one. There are a million but those would be kind of my go-to favorites.
Andrew: What are a few shoes that are great for speed work?
Jeff: Oh, me personally, I’ve always liked the Nike Lunaracer, been using that since college. And the Brooks PureFlow is kind of in that same category, the Saucony Kinvara, I mentioned earlier. I use those for speed work.
Andrew: What are some shoes that were great sockless for triathlon?
Jeff: This is where the industry has changed a lot in the past few years and I’m a huge fan. A lot of brands now incorporate kind of an anti-moisture and antimicrobial sock liners inside the shoe. A lot of them specifically advertise “Hey, you could race in this without socks if you wanted to.” The Nike Flyknit is a knit machine-made seamless, one-piece upper that feels really good on the foot. A lot of people swear by, you know not having to wear socks with those. The new Skechers Go Run has a knit, one-piece upper as well. The Adidas Ultra Boost also now has a knit upper option. The New Balance, the Fresh Foam Vongo, uses a 3D printer actually to create this kind of ultra-lightweight mesh cage.
Andrew: How high tech of them.
Jeff: Oh gosh, they’re crazy what they’re doing now, but it kind of has a molded booty inside of the shoe that subs for a sock. Gosh, the newer Kinvara in Saucony incorporates their new, they call it their Flexfilm, which is a seamless pliable upper that kind of moves along with the foot, instead of the foot kind of stretching against it. It’s crazy cool.
Andrew: So, what are some of your top recommendations for trail running?
Jeff: Oh man, many and more experienced trail runners tend to be kind of more minimalist, you know, more minimalist lovers. But whether traditional or minimal, I still recommend that their trail shoe incorporates a rock plate in the midfoot of the midsole, which provides extra protection. It tends to be a carbon fiber plate because it’s much lighter, but it will help kind of rocks and roots and bumps, kind of protrude those extra pressure points of the midfoot. So, regardless of the type of shoe, minimal or traditional, I definitely encourage a trail-specific shoe that incorporates that rock plate. Trail shoes will also incorporate more of that kind of heavier, stiffer, longer lasting carbon rubber across more coverage of that shoe. Some Adidas shoes actually even use road cycling rubber tires. Like Continental is a great tire company. Adidas partners with them to help from sliding on wet trail surfaces, that “gription,” I call it, factor of this shoe. But my go-to recommendations for trail running shoes, the Brooks Cascadia. The Brooks Cascadia is an industry leader. Any elite runner will tend to stand by that. The most closely related to that Cascadia, it’s now discontinued but the New Balance Leadville was a shoe very similar to that Cascadia. A lot of people liked that. The Saucony Peregrine. Some minimal versions would be the New Balance Trail Minimus, the Altra Lone Peak is a good one, the Salomon Elevate.
Andrew: And finally, if someone has the budget for just one pair of good running shoes, what are some good kind of all-rounders they should look into?
Jeff: Oh man, that middle-weight shoe that’s light enough for speed work but durable and protective enough to handle long runs. Gosh, if you could only have one, I would stick to that six- to 10-millimeter offset examples, including the Brooks Launch eight millimeter, the Adidas Boost 10-millimeter offset, the Saucony Ride eight mil, the New Balance Zante is a good middleweight, six-millimeter shoe. Those would probably be my go-to or my favorites.
Andrew: And last running shoe question before we wrap this up. At what point should somebody replace their running shoes?
Jeff: A lot of shoes will have a life expectancy. Some brands even market that. But for your just traditional go-to shoes, most are understood at a 300- to 400-mile life expectancy. I would not recommend your running shoe using it for casual wear, buying groceries. If you’re just strictly running in it, that tends to be four to six months, three to five months depending on your mileage. A lot of people will even write the date kind of on the heel of the shoe even when they buy the shoe, just so they can refer back to that. But when you’re getting 75% what you would think would be the life of that shoe, start mixing in a new shoe with that. But a good little trick, if you don’t know how many miles are on it, you don’t remember when you bought it, the little trick that I do is I put the nose of the shoe down on the ground with the heel facing straight up towards the ceiling of the room and I flex the shoe. I push it down like a spring and I let go quickly of that shoe. If there’s some hop there, then there’s still a little bit of integrity left possibly in that EVA foam. It’s –
Andrew: But if there’s no hop?
Jeff: If there is no hop then that shoe is dead to me. It becomes my triathlon shoe that I walk to the swim start and I ditch off to the side and donate so my feet aren’t cold.
Andrew: Jeff, how many pairs of running shoes do you own, out of curiosity? Can you ballpark it?
Jeff: Ask your wife how many pairs of shoes that she has, and I probably have double that in run shoes.
Andrew: In running shoes alone. Elizabeth, how many Nikes do you have?
Elizabeth: Oh gosh, I have like five boxes of Nikes right now.
Great set everyone. Let’s cool down.
Andrew: In the spirit of running shoe talk, we will cool down today with the running edition of a segment we call, “Gear We Use.” This is the part of the show where we move beyond theory and talk about what gear TriDot coaches turn to for top performance. It’s one thing to preview a new product or to review a popular piece of gear, but when a TriDot coach takes a product into their own training or to the start line of a race, it probably means it’s a product worth checking out. Elizabeth, let’s start with you. What are three pieces of running gear you are loving right now?
Elizabeth: Oh goodness, I feel like a broken record but I’m going to say it again, gosh, those Nike shoes I’m –
Andrew: Nike shoes.
Jeff: Yes, I’m racing in Nikes and they’re worth it. I will say though that my go-to, long-run shoe is still the Mizuno Wave Inspire. It’s got that wave plate under the heel, two layers of that euphoric foam cushioning, one above and below the plate, that grippy outsoles has been great for all training conditions. I get a lot of miles out of them before I need a replacement pair. So, I mean shoes, we’ve spent this whole episode on that, but that’s still number one. Gosh, two other pieces of gear. The Balega Hidden comfort socks. I love the extra-deep heel pocket and the extra cushioning that’s there around the Achilles, that’s a go-to. Gosh, number three, my Nathan hydration pack. Marathon training in the Texas summer heat requires a lot of hydration. So, that would be a key item for me as well.
Andrew: Some really great stuff in there. Thank you. Jeff Raines, what is some of the gear you are using right now?
Jeff: Oh man, main, long-run shoe, ASICS Cumulus, High Cushion Neutral, 10-millimeter.
Andrew: The man takes his own advice.
Jeff: My quality shoe, kind of speed work, maybe track, tempos, fartleks, Saucony Kinvara, all the way. Love that shoe, multiple models, four-millimeter offset. Half- and full-marathon racing shoe, the Nike ZoomX NEXT%, all the way. Socks, I love the Feetures Elite light cushion sock, right and left anatomically correct, love those. Gosh third, I would say favorite, the new Fenix 6, the Garmin Fenix 6 Pro. There’s what they call the PacePro. It’s got this intelligent kind of pace planning feature that is a great adjusting pace guidance thing.
Andrew: So, it helps you know what pace you should be running at in your training and racing based on where you actually are on course, right?
Jeff: On particular courses. It is a very, very neat new tool out there.
Andrew: Is it just that Garmin watch that does it or is Garmin unveiling that to all of their watches?
Jeff: Right now that is the only product that’s doing it, but I see it moving across.
Andrew: Three pieces of gear that I’m using in my run training right now, I am doing all of my speed work and tempo sessions in the Skechers Razor 3 Hyper. I have a weird foot. There’s a lot of shoes that I would really, really like to run in, but they just don’t fit my foot very, very well. So, just like Jeff and Elizabeth talked about, I’ve gone in the stores and I found that the Razor 3 fits my foot really well, and I’m able to do a lot of my running in it. I have found the Mizuno Shadow I mentioned earlier is an eight-millimeter shoe that gets me in that more traditional shoe for all my other miles. But I love the Sketchers Razor 3 Hyper. That brand’s doing a lot of really, really cool things right now. A second thing I’ll say is the Scosche Rhythm+ heart rate monitor. Now, this is a heart rate monitor guys, it’s not a chest strap, but it’s also not the little wrist base that that can be kind of finicky. It is a heart rate monitor that goes around, basically any part of your arm. You can tighten it up on your forearm, or you can move it up to your bicep where it’s out of the way. And it reads very, very, very highly accurate like a chest strap, but I just hate chest straps. I hate they always end up getting loose and sweaty. And I can put that thing on my arm and forget about it. My wife does all of her, you know moving-around-in-the-living-room kind of workouts on it and it stays on both of our arms very, very well. So, I recommend that.
The last thing I’ll say is the Nathan Zephyr Trail flashlight. I know a lot of people use headlamps for their running, especially on those early morning runs where it’s dark outside or wintertime when there’s not as much sunlight. A lot of people turn to their headlamps. I never got into the headlamp thing, and I found the Nathan Zephyr Trail, it kind of has a little hand strap so it loops right onto your hand, almost like a handheld water bottle. And so you don’t have to hold it, you can just kind of run with it on your hand. And then as you’re running if I need to kind of let a car know that I’m there at an intersection, I can kind of just flash it at them really easily without shaking my head in all sorts of funky directions. And so that’s a nice flashlight I’ve really enjoyed on those late night runs, those early morning runs, those wintertime runs.
Well, that’s it for today, folks, I want to thank TriDot coaches Jeff Raines and Elizabeth James for giving us some clutch information about running shoes. Shout out to our friends at TRITATS for bringing us today’s show. I firmly believe friends don’t let friends show up at a race with Sharpied-on numbers. So, as a friend of the podcast, head to TriTats.com and use coupon code, TRIDOT to make your mark with TRITATS at your next race. Have any triathlon questions or topics you want to hear us talk about? Email us at Podcast@TriDot.com and let us know what you’re thinking. Again, that’s Podcast@TriDot.com. We’ll have a new show coming your way soon. Until then, happy training.
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