EDITOR'S NOTE: With the approaching of the News and Sentinel Half Marathon on Aug. 16, staff writer Jeff Baughan consulted with running experts on a variety of topics.
PARKERSBURG -There are different types of shoes to run in. You've got the trail shoes for those who train on mountain courses and trails. You've got running shoes for those who run on paved streets. Then you have the shoes everyone else wears while they stand and watch others run.
With the exception of a recreational shoe, a selection of a proper shoe to train is crucial to the seasoned runner but also to those whose who decide they are going to begin running for health and exercise reasons.
Photos by Jeff Baughan
Dorsey Chevuront, owner of On the Run and Walk in Parkersburg, with some of the available running shoes for men and women. Chevuront is a fixture among local running enthusiasts.
The arch of the foot determines what type of running shoe one should buy. The arch of the foot is determined as flat, normal and high. The foot arch is formed by bones, ligaments, and tendons in the foot which are needed for both movement and supporting one's weight..
"Most people don't know what type of arch they have," said Dorsey Cheuvront, owner of On the Run and Walk in Parkersburg. "Shoemakers make different shoes with different supports. A person has to know what type of arch they have. People with flat feet for instance, need arch support. If they don't have it, there's going to be foot issues. There's going to be knee issues. If the shoes are too small, they're going to get blisters among other things.
"If people who want to run don't know what their arch support is, then we'll have people bring their shoes in. We can tell by looking at their wear patterns on the bottoms of their shoes what kind of arch they have."
Sharon Marks, the cross country coach at Jackson Middle School, running enthusiast and member of the Parkersburg News and Sentinel Half Marathon committee, said one can quickly tell whether they have a high, flat or normal arch of the foot. It is the non-scientific method of determining the foot arch.
"Just get a foot wet and make an imprint on a sidewalk or other flat surface," Marks said. "That will give you a hint at what you need. Shoemakers make different types of shoes for different types of feet. A person has to have support for ankles and arches as the shoe sustains a person's weight. Shoes out of a discount store aren't going to do that."
Marks said during her coaching experience, younger athletes would report for cross country practice at the beginning of the season in the wrong type of shoes.
"The girls would try to run in cheering or cute shoes which had no support whatsoever for running," she said. "The boys, well, they would show up in their basketball shoes. Those big, heavy, leather shoes. Yeah, they were going to look good running for a little bit until they tripped and fell over them."
According to Cheuvront, a 6-foot tall runner is going to have approximately 1,700 foot landings per mile and a smaller runner will have around 1,720 landings. That's a lot of pounding on knees, ankles, arches and feet.
"It used to be 16 ounces to a shoe and now it's 10 to 13 ounces," said Cheuvront. "Now you consider that's only a few ounces but you see that's about a quarter to a third of the weight as before. When you take into account three ounces can make a difference in three seconds a mile... well, it's not much difference for a 5K race but when you compete in a half-marathon. Well, a lot of people are going to be competing for money. You can see those three seconds can make a big difference. And those seconds mean differences in money."
And despite what you heard as a child watching Saturday morning cartoons, wearing those Red Ball Jets did not make run you faster or jump higher. The same thing applies today with running shoes.
"There are no best shoes," said Cheuvront. "There are a lot of really good shoes. Bad shoes don't last. For instance, New Balance will send out a new shoe for a 30-day test period with selected customers. They send them back to New Balance with opinions and New Balance people just pour over the shoes for wear and tear."
Cheuvront said a quality running shoe is good for 300 to 500 miles, closer to 500 than 300 depending on how a person runs.
"If a person runs three to four miles a day, three or four days a week, a person is going to build up around 80 miles a month," Dorsey said. "So you can see a runner can go through a pair of shoes in four to five months."
A beginner runner, however, trying to build miles, may want something more durable. That doesn't necessarily mean more dollars. Carbon rubber is found on the bottom of most running shoes. The material is known by another name -tires.
"It doesn't compress," Cheuvront said. "It wears in spots where a runner's foot hits. That's what is going to wear out first."
Chevuront said the wearing out of a shoe won't be hard to determine.
"The cushioning just goes dead," he said. "The shoes let you know. The cushioning is just getting crushed every step. Person runs every day, or every other day, it doesn't take long to put the mileage on a shoe.
"A person should just mark the calendar when they start running on a new pair of shoes. Then they should watch and pay attention to their body. If they start getting aches or pains when they haven't had them before in the legs or ankles, they're getting close to needing a new pair of shoes."