Running Shoes & Barefoot Running
I asked my running buddies what were their preferred running shoes brand, and the two brands that were mentioned most are Asics & Brooks for road running. For trail running, The North Face (TNF) were well liked. Some runners swear by New Balance, while others prefer Saucony. The most practical comment made was, “Vibrams for indoor training”.
From my simple survey, I can deduce the obvious :-
Our tastes for shoes are varied, and it is a personal preference which is unique to only us.
Runners are becoming more savvy about the shoes that they need for different activities of road running, trail running, training indoor and outdoor, short and distance running.
We take comfort in the brands that we know and trust.
In 2011, I bought my first pair of running shoes which was Asics Kayano 17. I remember shelling-out a hefty Rm500+ for them, but for helping me complete my maiden half marathon and full marathon in that same year, I considered it a worthwhile investment.
In 2012, I started running barefoot (kaki ayam) which saved me a considerable sum of money. I reached the peak of my barefoot achievements by completing my maiden Half Marathon at SCKLM 2012 and later my first Penang Bridge International Marathon 2012.
I will always maintain that proper barefoot running is the best way to avoid running injuries, and running without shoes is a very effective way to comprehensively develop and strengthen all of the major and minor leg muscles for running. In case, you want to read more about my barefoot exploits, here are some of my personal barefoot stories;
Brooks & I
My first Brooks pair was the Transcend prototype which I had won in a blogger’s contest in March 2014, and I was impressed by the functional technology behind the shoe. You can read my review of it HERE. In contrast, the first generation of the Brooks Grit trail shoes failed to offer any useful foot support nor sufficient grip required for demanding uneven outdoor trails as I found-out to my disappointment at Gunung Nuang Ultra 2013.
In December 2014, Brooks Malaysia sponsored me the second generation Transcend which was lighter, more streamlined and more durable than its predecessor. Finally, in May 2015, I tested the 3rd Generation Transcend which had better padding technology for long distance comfort without being bulky or heavy.
Brooks shoes are great for new and weekend runners because it offers comfort with all round performance. Moreover, certain models can accommodate runners with wide feet.
In 2015, I was lucky to receive both Newton shoes & Innov-8 trail running shoes courtesy from my friends at Keypower Sports. This was the first time that I had tried using high-performance running shoes. The Newton is the fastest pair and ideal for distances below 15km. Using a car analogy, these babies have helluva pick-up, and many novice runners have known to ditch their pairs quickly when they could not cope with the required front-foot landing. I love my Newtons, and its only drawback is that the front exterior soles wear-off too fast which is not surprising since most of the runner’s weight is concentrated in that front zone.
The Innov-8 is my first real trail shoes, and they serve me well for any kind of terrain, but due to its narrow width, I probably would be better off with a half size bigger. To overcome this problem, I use it only for maximum distances of 16km off-road. For the seasoned trail runner, Innov-8 is light, sturdy and it has excellent grip.
In September 2015, I received my first pair of Adidas Boost Glide at the SCKLM 2015 Media Event.
After wearing-in this pair, I find that it performs well for distances of around 10km, and the material and its lightweight makes it a comfortable ride. With its latest technology, the new models of Adidas running shoes offer a viable option for the road racers who want to run Fast and look Cool, too!
Despite what any shoe brand will claim, or what your friends might recommend, the best person to know what shoes will suit you best is YOURSELF. Nowadays, it is difficult to go drastically wrong when buying new running shoes because;
The standard and quality of running shoes have improved dramatically, and so have their prices.
There are many more good running shoe brands available at major shopping malls for you to try-out first.
The legitimate running retailers will insist that you undergo an on-site foot analysis in order to determine your foot-type before recommending to you the right shoe models.
For new running shoes shopper, I can further recommend to follow these guidelines when looking for new shoes so that you don’t unnecessarily waste your time and money :-
Decide beforehand what is your minimum and maximum budget.
Specify beforehand what you need the shoes for. Ask yourself, “Will I be running indoors/outdoors/on roads/off-road/across rivers/short distance/long distance?”.
Research and identify at least 3 different suitable brands for comparisons.
Always try on the shoes before making a purchase decision. Ideally, try running on a treadmill with the shoes if possible.
Remember that during the day, your feet will expand by 0.5cm. So, if you are trying on shoes in the morning, make sure it is 0.5cm bigger.
How much support and padding you will need depends on your foot-type and the expected running distance.
If you are running above 7 minutes per kilometre, then the further or longer you run, the more likely that you will heel-strike.
Never buy shoes on impulse or based solely on the design and colour of the shoes. If you are in doubt, walk away, and take time-off to re-assess your needs vis-a-vis what is available.
Do not overestimate the quality and fitting of expensive or well-known brands. Conversely, keep your mind open when trying cheaper or less popular brands.
For first timers, avoid buying top of the range models until you get into your running routine and discover what kind of running that you will be doing most. You can always upgrade later, once you improve on your running technique and form.
The Basics of Running hardly changes, but the evolution of running shoe technology and ingenious marketing campaigns of shoe brands are fast and furious. Therefore, it is upto you to decide what changes are real and what are just gimmicks…For more shoe buying tips…
About The Author
Gus is the Founder of Running Toons and a HIIT Fitness Coach. As a freelance writer, he has contributed numerous insightful articles to The Star newspaper, Running Malaysia magazine, Cycling Malaysia magazine, Cycling Evolution magazine, Swim Bike Run magazine and more. LIKE Happy Runner and
follow gusghani @Instagram.