Are Top Notch ‘Running’ Shoes Essential for Running?

My girlfriend has just convinced me to train for a 5km race. Currently, my main shoes for exercise are cross-trainers that I use for step class and I love them as they support my feet and make me feel stable. Are these shoes also suitable for running? I always feel that proper runners are not as supportive.

Dr. Sarah Answered

Cross-trainers may appear to be all-purpose exercise shoes, however, they are not built for running.

A cross-trainer is designed for side-to-side stability and features a wide sole, a dense mid-sole and moderate cushioning. Activities that change direction quickly such as tennis, aerobic classes and squash are ideal for a cross-training shoe. If you are just going for the odd light jog they are fine, however, if you are going to seriously pound the pavement (any thing over one km) then you need running shoes.

Running shoes feature a flexible sole and lots of cushioning, which help prevent lower leg injuries such as shin splints, sore feet and joint pain. According to Paul Langer, D.P.M. director of the American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine and a recently featured runner in Runner’s World, running is repetitive and unrelenting, averaging approximately 1,000 to 1,500 steps per mile (that’s almost 3,000 on a 5km run). Each time you land the impact is that of two to three times your body weight and so a proper running shoe is a must to support this kind of impact.

A good running shoe should fit snug in the heel and feel supported across the instep of your foot and you should be able to wiggle your toes. To ensure that you have the right shoe for your feet I recommend shopping at the Running Room, where the staff is knowledgeable and trained to find the right shoe for you foot.

When is comes to cost, keep in mind that your body is yours for life and the shoes you purchase are responsible for absorbing two to three times your body weight. A good pair running shoes will cost a minimum of $80, and YES you do get what you pay for (unless they are on sale). My favorite brands are New Balance ( they feature various widths), and Saucony (feature excellent support), and you can always count on Nike for a cutting edge model!

About the Health Expert: Sarah Brown is a very healthy woman. She is not only a fitness instructor at Goodlife where she teaches Body Pump, Body Flow, boot camp and yoga but she is also a registered holistic nutritionist.

Editor’s Review:

It is essential that you get a shoe designed for your footfall (neutral gait, pronation or supination) a good shoe salesman should be able to evaluate you. If they don’t know what these terms mean, run away. Also, get some instruction from a track coach or experienced runner. Most quality running stores have clubs that provide instruction. You can do a lot of damage with the wrong shoe and bad technique.