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The Effects Of Running Shoes

4 08 2011

I came across this article while I was browsing the Internet when I was in the US. I am reposting this article for the benefit of my regular readers with the hope that other runners would be able to read it, too! It is very long but very informative.

As I said in my previous post, I am not endorsing minimalist or barefoot running. I am not a barefoot runner but I do such workout as part of my strengthening and recovery program. This article is a good read for everybody.

As you can see, this article had been written and published in August 22, 2006, almost 5 years old and earlier published than the book, “Born To Run” by Christopher McDougall.

Happy reading!

August 22, 2006

ATHLETIC FOOTWEAR AND RUNNING INJURIES

Essay on the harmful effects of modern running shoes.

      (  Written a number of years ago, this piece was published in part in the German ultra magazine Spiridon.)
PART 1 – INTRODUCTION   AND  HISTORY

Look, if anyone displayed brand-loyalty, it was me.  I LOVED my NIKE  AIR MAX  Triax™ runners.  I wouldn’t buy anything else.  Why?  Because they felt good.  I liked the cushioning.  I liked the ride.  I also felt they protected me from the hard road by interposing a layer of air between the sole of my foot and the pavement.   So why was I sidelined with a heel injury for over two months?  I listened to the manufacturer and changed my runners every 400 miles.  Come to think of it, why do I see so many runners with lower extremity injuries in my office?  The traditional answer to these questions has always been overuse often compounded by an underlying mechanical abnormality such as over-pronation or flat-feet.

The treatment, along with modification of training, physiotherapy, stretching etc. has always included a close look at the runner’s footwear, often with recommendations about motion control, stability, cushioning, orthotics or custom molded insoles.  A growing body of literature in the field of sports medicine, however, is causing a bit of a stir…no, call it PANIC in the running world.  Everything you and I always believed about running shoes and running injuries may be wrong!    Here’s the scoop:  The modern running shoe itself may be the major cause of running injuries!  Stated another way, the modern running shoe, presently thought of a protective device, should be reclassified as a “health hazard”.  (NIKE, please tell me it ain’t so!!!)

Now relax, get back on your chair and take a deep breath.   We’ll take this one step at a time and since we’re going to be talking about shoes and feet, I may as well start at the beginning…the very beginning.  Until quite recently in our history, most humans lived out their lives unshod.  S.F.Stewart in his “Footgear – It’s History, Uses and Abuses” states that “…all writers who have reported their observations of barefoot peoples agree that the untrammeled feet of natural men are free from the disabilities commonly noted among shod people – hallux valgus, bunions, hammer toe and painful feet.”  So why was footgear developed?  One of the earliest examples of footgear known to us takes the form of sagebrush bark sandals found in caves and rock shelters near Fort Rock, Oregon under a layer of volcanic ash dating back 10,000 years.  The foot surface is smooth and they were held on by bast straps over the instep.  Similar sandals were used throughout the volcanic cordilleras of Meso and South America and the volcanic islands of the South Pacific.  The early Polynesians used sandals to cross old lava flows and when fishing on the razor-sharp coral.  It seems, therefore, that the prime function of the earliest sandals was protection of the sole.

Although the early Pharaohs are all represented as barefoot, by the first millennium BC sandals in Egypt were common in court and were worn by soldiers.   In Mesopotamian kingdoms sandals were evidently a status symbol with the king known to have worn a wedged sandal in contrast to his flat-soled courtiers.  Very thick-soled low boots are known to have been worn by Greek tragedians to increase their height.  Comedians wore socks or soccus – hence the expression “high tragedy and low comedy”.  Thus, the secondary function of footgear appears to have been symbolic.

From the time of the Greeks, footgear gradually evolved to meet both symbolic and functional needs.  For example, tradition tells us that about the beginning of the present millennium Count Fulk of Anjou introduced long pointed toes to cover up some deformity of his feet, and courtiers quickly adopted the fashion.  The Mongols, who on horseback ravaged the Middle East between Damascus and Moscow from the 12th-14th centuries, are credited for the introduction of the block heel presumably developed to better grip the stirrup plate.  But in the French court of Louis XIV, the rugged Mongolian heel underwent a radical cosmetic transformation eventually leading to the ultimate idiotic expression of modern fashion – the stiletto heel.

European peasants wore clogs carved from a block of wood.  Mass production seems to have begun prior to the 14th century, for Edward II in 1342 decreed that shoes should be sized.  Their length was measured in barleycorns, 3 to an inch.  This is still the basis of shoe measurements, 1/3 inch to a size in length.  We start sizing from a baseline of 3″ in children and 7″ in adults.  Widths vary with length; in a given size the widths vary by 1 1/2 inch.  Unpaired shoes were introduced in England in the 15th century when gout became common and these shoes had broad square toes to relieve pressure.  The most recent innovation seems to have been the hard box toe to preserve the appearance of the shoe.

Now, let’s focus-in on the running shoe.  It seems that the earliest sports shoes were developed in the 1830’s by the Liverpool rubber company owned by John Boyd Dunlop.  Although they were first called sand shoes because they were worn on the beach by the Victorian middle classes, they eventually became known as plimsolls because the lines formed by the rubber and canvas bond looked similar to the Plimsoll line on a ship’s hull.  In 1933, Dunlop launched its Green Flash range of trainers.   Adi Dassler (and his brother Rudolf) started making sports shoes in Herzogenaurach, Germany in 1920 and in 1936 Jesse Owens wore a pair of them when he won four Olympic gold medals in Berlin.  ADIDAS (Adi Dassler) was formed in 1948 with the now famous three stripes logo developing from three support leather bands used to bolster the sides.  By the 1956 Olympics, dozens of competitors were wearing ADIDAS shoes.  Rudolf Dassler broke away to form PUMA.  Amidst the first rumblings of the jogging-boom, NIKE (after the Greek goddess of victory) was launched by American Phil Knight, a former track star at the University of Oregon, and his waffle-making coach Bill Bowerman in 1971(Surely you remember the NIKE Waffle Trainer!).  The NIKE  ‘Swoosh’ is arguably the most successful logo in the world and was conceived for Phil Knight by a local Oregon graphic design student, Carolyn Davidson, for a total fee of $35.  (But don’t worry about the graphic designer.  In September 1983, NIKE presented Carolyn Davidson with a rather substantial share package as a way of saying “Thank-you.”)  ASICS (acronym for Animus Sanus In Corpore Sano, Latin for A Sound Mind In A Sound Body) first introduced its shoes in North America in 1977 while REEBOCK (named after a species of an African gazelle) entered the US Market in 1979 as the running shoe was slowly transforming into a fashion item.  1987 was declared the Year of the Running Shoe by the clothing industry, the same year NIKE launched the ‘cross-trainer’ and it’s flagship running-shoe, the Air Max. After 16 years of research, NIKE introduced its SHOX line of runners in 2000, arguably the first athletic shoe on springs (foam)!

PART 2 – SHOES AND INJURIES

For the last fifteen years or so, buying a pair of runners has always been accompanied by a warm fuzzy feeling inside, a feeling that comes from the certain knowledge that you’re investing in a high-tech device purpose-designed to protect you from injury and improve your performance.  You can just see all those smart dedicated NIKE mechanical engineers hard at work developing and testing newer and better space-age materials to shield you from the terrible pounding you submit yourself to in order to “Just do it!’  Gel, air, channels, honeycomb, microspheres, super-light materials, foam springs and soon…yes, you guessed it, micro-chips in the soles of your shoes (better than diamonds, I suppose).   New round laces and ribbon eyelets result in that custom-fitted feel supplemented by molded sorbothane insoles or special orthotics from your local prosthetist and you’re ready to tackle any distance.

Now here’s the catch.  If all this high-tech stuff is supposed to be preventing running injuries by shielding us from impact, why is it that two out of every three runners are sidelined every year because of a running injury?  Why is it that since the great jogging boom of the mid-seventies, there has been no decrease in the incidence (some authors say there has been an increase) of running injures in spite of yearly ‘improvements’ in running-shoe technology?  Why is my office filled with runners who have injured knees (26% of running injuries), tibias (13%), Achilles tendons (6%) and plantar fascias (5%)?  The cause of all these injuries is quite evident: cumulative micro-trauma caused by repetitive impact experienced during running.  The heel of a runner upon striking the ground generates a force that can equal 2.5 times body weight at the foot and as much as 7 times body weight at the hip.  Repeat this 1000 times per mile and it’s easy to appreciate the stress the old bones are under.  Add to this the hardness of urban roadways compared to naturally deposited surfaces and eventually, something gives, inflammation sets in and pain results…and you end up working at the finish-line pulling bar-codes off finishers.  Now, where’s our high-tech shoe in all this?  With all the improvements in recent years, you’d think we’d be seeing a marked decrease in running injuries.  Just keep reading.

It wasn’t till the mid-eighties that some researchers smelled something rotten in the athletic footwear world and it wasn’t just dirty socks.  Footwear manufacturers were well aware that impact was the cause of running injuries and reasoned that the way to attenuate impact was to interpose a soft impact-absorbing midsole between the foot and the ground.  The first major problem was the method used by essentially all the footwear development labs to test the impact absorption of footwear mid-soles.  Dr. Benno Nigg from the University of Calgary showed that machine testing of these materials by dropping a 5-kg object onto the shoe-sole and measuring the impact on a pressure-plate did not accurately predict human impact with the same materials.  In fact the correlation turned out to be inverse, that is when you drop a 5-kg ball on materials of increasing softness, you measure decreasing impact.  However, when the impact from a running human is measured, the result is the reverse, and the impact increases with softer materials! WHOOPS! (You’ll find out why later.)

Next problem.  In 1989, Dr. B. Marti published a paper which still makes the throats of footwear executives go dry.  He studied 5,038 runners who participated in a 16km race and had them fill out an extensive questionnaire about their running in the year preceding the race.  Here’s what he found: The incidence of injuries in runners using shoes costing more than $95 was more that twice as great as in runners using shoes costing less than $40. (Note that this result includes correction for other influencing factors such as training mileage and history of previous injury.)  In other words, the fancier (high-tech, advanced) the shoe, the more dangerous it is!  Now a study of over 5,000 runners is not something to thumb your nose at and you would think the shoe manufacturers would have taken some notice.  Not on your life.   Yearly athletic shoe sales were in the billions of dollars and this was no time to fiddle with a successful product.   In any case, it is felt by many observers that by the mid-eighties researchers, in-house or independent, had effectively been forced out of the loop of new product development and that research and development was now exclusively in the hands of the marketing people.  Athletic shoes had become a fashion item and were designed as such, as they are to this day.

The big question: Why are super shock-absorbing athletic shoes causing more running injuries?   Dr. Steven Robbins from the Centre for Studies in Aging at McGill University in Montreal is the man who came up with the answer.  Dr. Robbins pointed out that the human lower extremity is not a delicate, rigid, passive structure requiring ‘packaging’ to protect it from impact.  This becomes blatantly obvious when one observes the nearly complete absence of foot disorders in unshod populations.  People who go around barefoot just don’t get plantar fasciitis or any of the other lower extremity injuries so common in shod populations.  The lower extremity, he points out, is a rugged, flexible, active, well designed (teleologically) structure.  Wire this structure to a spinal cord and a brain and what you’ve got is a system fully capable of handling the impacts of running.  So, how does this system work exactly and why do modern running shoes screw it up?

Allow me for a moment to compare the human locomotor apparatus to a modern luxury car.  The bones of the foot, leg, thigh and pelvis act as the frame, linked by joints and all held together by fairly inelastic ligaments and fascia.  The bones and joints are surrounded by contracting muscles which act as the suspension system.  This is especially evident in the arch of the foot which is formed by both the passive, rigid plantar fascia as well as the active, flexible intrinsic muscles.  The bones and muscles are covered by fat and skin within which reside receptors or sensors that send information to both the peripheral computer (the spinal cord) and the central computer (the brain).  The skin on the sole of the foot (glabrous skin) is very well suited to its function possessing about 600% of the toughness of hairy skin (the skin everywhere else on our bodies except our palms).  The receptors in the foot are specially designed to sense both impact (vertical force) and shear (horizontal force).  Add to this information streaming in from pain receptors as well as joint position receptors throughout the lower extremity and you’ve got a Hummer! (Got carried away a little…sorry.)

During barefoot running, the ball of the foot strikes the ground first and immediately starts sending signals to the spinal cord and brain about the magnitude of impact and shear, getting most of its clues about this from the skin contact with the surface irregularities of the ground.  Take away this contact by adding a cushioned substance and you immediately fool the system into underestimating the impact. Add a raised heel and the shod runner is forced to land on it. Strap the cushioning on tightly with the aid of a sophisticated lacing system and you block out shear as well, throwing the shock-absorption system even further into the dark.  The system responds by landing harder in an attempt to compress the cushion and ‘feel’ the ground.  The weight is then transferred to the outside edge of the foot, completely by-passing the skin of the arch.  The heel then touches down and the weight is transferred to the ball again with final push-off through the toes.  While the weight is being transferred, the arch carries out its function as the suspension system of the foot and flattens under the active control of the intrinsic muscles. The ankle, knee and hip joints flex to absorb impact in response to information flowing in from the foot.  The cushioned midsole of the modern running shoe robs the system of important sensory information necessary for ankle, knee and hip response to impact.  The arch support (or orthotic) in modern running shoes not only prevents the arch suspension system from absorbing energy by preventing flattening but eventually leads to intrinsic muscle atrophy and complete loss of active muscular control of the arch leaving only the inelastic plantar fascia as a checkrein to flattening.   The barefoot runner’s ‘foot position awareness sense’ which relies heavily on sensory input from the sole of the foot minimizes his risk of sustaining an ankle sprain on uneven ground.  The shod runner is at marked increased risk of ankle sprains because his ‘foot position awareness sense’ is handicapped by the paucity of sensations coming from his soles.  The barefoot runner is constantly alert scanning the ground before him for irregularities and dangers that might cause him injury.  The barefoot runner is a cautious runner and actively changes his landing strategy to prevent injury.  He treads lightly.   The shod runner is bombarded by convincing advertising stating or implying that the shoe he is wearing will protect him well over any terrain and he becomes a careless runner.  He is heavy footed.  Finally, certain diseases in humans can cause a gradual destruction of the sensory nerve endings in the foot (and elsewhere) resulting in a significant increase in lower extremity injuries.  Diabetes and tertiary syphilis are two.  Extremities so affected are termed ‘neuropathic’.  The shod runner, because of his sensory deprivation and high risk of injury may be termed as having ‘pseudo-neuropathic’ feet, a term coined by Robbins.

The conclusion that shoes are the primary cause of running injuries is strongly supported by the scientific literature.  I’ve already mentioned Marti’s work showing more than twice the incidence of running injuries with expensive shoes compared with cheap ones.  Rao and Joseph (1992) examined 2300 Indian children between the ages of 4 and 13 and found that the incidence of flat feet was more than three times greater in those children who used footwear than in those who did not leading them to conclude that shoe-wearing in early childhood is detrimental to the development of a normal arch.  In 1988, Hamill and Bates showed that as running shoes lose their cushioning through wear and tear, subjects improve foot control on testing and presumably decrease their risk of injury, i.e. shoes get better with age.  Robbins and Gouw showed in 1991 that modern athletic footwear creates a perceptual illusion in subjects whereby they consistently underestimate impact.  Simply adding surface irregularities on the insoles (to simulate barefoot like conditions) markedly improves subjects’ estimates of impact.  Robbins and others (1994) studied the balance ability of men walking along a beam wearing shoes with soles of varying thickness and hardness.  Results confirmed that the thinner and harder the soles, the better the balance. In one of their most elegant and widely publicized studies, Robbins and Waked (1997) examined the effect of advertising on landing impact.   They asked subjects to step down barefoot ten times onto four pressure measuring platforms, the first one being bare and the other three covered by identical shoe sole material made to look different by different colored cloth.  The subjects were given different messages for each of the covered plates: the message for the first covered plate suggested superior impact absorption and protection (deceptive message), the second suggested poor impact absorption and high injury risk (warning message) and the third suggested unknown impact absorption and safety (neutral message).  Results showed that subjects landed with the highest impact when given the deceptive and neutral messages and with the lowest impact when given the warning message or with the bare plate.  The authors conclude that running injury rates are greatest in users of the most expensive shoes because advertising has deceived these users into believing that the shoes provide a superior level of safety thereby inducing an attenuation of impact moderating behavior, increasing impact and injury.  The authors add that deceptive advertising of protective devices is a public health hazard and should be addressed.  Humans are less cautious even when they use truthfully advertised products because of excessively positive attitudes toward new products and wrong impressions of the standards of truth in advertising.

“So,” you think, “is this guy telling me that NIKE, REEBOCK and all those big corporations just put this new stuff out on the market without any proof that its safe?  Can’t be!”   Well, that’s exactly what I’m telling you.  I can be a real pain in the ass when I try, and some years back, I was in the mood.  I got on the phone and tried to talk to the directors of research at all the big athletic footwear companies.   I tell you, getting to talk to one of these guys is harder than talking to the Pope.  I finally got to speak with Mr. Gordon Valiant, then director of research at the NIKE Sports Research Lab in Beaverton, Oregon.    JF:” Mr. Valiant.  My name is Dr. Froncioni and I’m an orthopedic surgeon.  I treat a lot of runners and I was just wondering what your thoughts were on the whole issue of running injuries possibly being caused by your running shoes.”  …long pause…GV:”Umm…well…I’m afraid I’m not at liberty to discuss that matter.”   SAY WHAT!!!??  JF:”Mr. Valiant, in case you missed it, I’m NOT a reporter.  I’m just an orthopedic surgeon who’s looking for some answers for his patients.  Let me rephrase.  Surely you have data to support the injury protection claims you make about your running shoes….surely sir..”   GV: “Well…I could refer you to our marketing people and I’m sure they could send you something.”  Nope.  We’re not on the same wavelength at all.  I’m sure the lawyers have given these guys a gag order.  JF: “Mr.Valiant, your marketing people send me stuff all the time; it’s all over the Runner’s World I get every month.  Anyway, nice talking to you.”

I’ve also had a few chats with Dr. Steven Robbins.  He feels very strongly that the athletic footwear manufacturers are painting themselves into a very tight corner by not acting on the available information.  After all, it is within their power to effect changes in their shoe design based on the available data and in doing so decreasing the running injury rate by up to 55%.  By not acting now, Dr. Robbins predicts the footwear manufacturers may end up in the same situation as the tobacco companies with massive class-action lawsuits brought against them.

PART 3 – NEW DIRECTIONS

So, what do we do now?  For starters, NO, I do not recommend that you run your next half-marathon barefoot.  But certainly, I predict that sooner or later, changes will come about in both shoe design and training.  From the medical establishment’s point of view, the prevention and treatment of running injuries must change to incorporate the concepts outlined above.  In fact I view the ideas I’ve presented here as a major paradigm shift in sports medicine, the likes of which I have not seen in the last fifteen years.  Of course, the major shoe companies have to own up and start introducing better shoes into their lines.  Why not do this gradually and introduce just one shoe that incorporates some of the recommended changes.  Dr. Robbins is already testing shoes that use a thinner, less resilient midsole material that provides the comfort but not the impact absorption and of course has no arch support.  I’m sure the marketing boys at NIKE could handle it.

Without being too radical, there are some changes that are worth introducing without further delay and they are as follows:

1-Young children should be encouraged to spend as much time as possible barefoot.  We know that this is especially important for the proper formation of the foot arch in the first six years of life.  So, moms, trash the WEEBOCKS  and let your kids develop strong healthy feet just as they were meant to.

2-Runners should consider incorporating sessions of barefoot running into their training.  In an article in the October 1997 Runner’s World, Adam Bean gives the following advice:  “Running barefoot a couple of times per week can decrease your risk of injury and boost your ‘push-off’ power.”  You can run on any surface you like as long as you’re careful of sharp objects and pebbles.  Soft sand is probably the least desirable surface because it is unstable and after your heel has dug-in, you will weight bear on your arch.  Paved roads are fine and dangerous objects are easy to spot.  But remember, your feet will need to toughen-up so start with small doses.  Kick your shoes off as soon as you get home and spend your evenings and weekends barefoot.

Is it possible to rehabilitate the weakened muscles of a normally shod runner?  It certainly is according to another excellent study by Dr. Robbins (1987).  He asked 17 normally shod recreational runners to gradually increase barefoot activity both at home and outdoors over a period of several weeks and to maintain barefoot activity for about four months.  The runners’ feet were examined, measured and x-rayed at regular intervals to detect changes.  Results showed marked improvement in the anatomy and function of the arch.  The authors concluded that the normally shod foot is capable of rehabilitation of foot musculature.  Very good news indeed for all of us.

3-Runners may want to consider switching to a lightweight shoe that provides less cushioning and no arch support.  The only shoes on the market that come close to these characteristics are racing flats.  I use the 6.5 oz. ASICS Gel-Magic Racer.  For you diehard NIKE  fans, consider the Air Streak II, Air Streak Spectrum Plus or the Air Streak Vapor IV but most shoe manufactures make a flat.  A shoe that Nike has just introduced this year, the NIKE FREE also looks like a step in the right direction (I have not actually seen this shoe myself yet).  Moreover, a look at the NIKE FREE web page give me a bit of hope that this company may finally have seen the light.  If you do change to flats, I recommend you wean into them slowly.  Remember that you live in a developed country and that your feet have been shielded from natural stresses your entire life, i.e. you’ve got wimpy feet, buddy. The intrinsic muscles of your feet are asleep and need to wake up slowly. The first thing that will strike you in a racing flat is the lightness of the shoe (Most runners today run in shoes that weigh as much as 14 oz.)   Then, you will quickly realize that for the first time, you start to feel the ground you are walking on.    Oh…and one more thing: don’t listen to the guy at the running store.  He’s there to sell shoes and is under the spell of the powerful shoe industry advertising machine. He has become well and truly brainwashed with the traditional concepts that we all need cushioning and arch support.  He will try to dissuade you from buying a racing flat and he may even go as far as telling you that they are for elite runners and are meant to be used for one marathon only.  Don’t believe him.   I keep my flats for at least 400 – 500 miles with no problem.

Finally, some radicals among you may wish to become full-time barefoot runners.  Barefoot running clubs are springing-up all over America and Europe.  Point your search engine to ‘barefoot running’ or go to http://www.runningbarefoot.org to get more information.  I also welcome anyone who wishes more information on any of the quoted materials to contact me and it would be my pleasure to provide you with copies (josephfroncioni@logic.bm).

Joseph Froncioni

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ASICS Gel-LyteRacer

21 02 2011

ASICS Gel-LyteRacer

Catalog Picture of ASICS Gel-LyteRacer

It is too bad that what is available in our Sports Stores, Running Stores and even ASICS Store for models on ASICS running shoes are those which have thick soles and heels. These ASICS shoes are in the category of stability and cushioning shoes which are too heavy for training and for racing.

I am not a runner-blogger who is being sponsored by ASICS to review and/or use their products. I simply love and feel comfortable using ASICS and I buy every pair of ASICS shoes that I use. Since I started running in the early 80s, ASICS had been Number #1 for me. This is what I call LOYALTY.

During my trip to Taipeh, Taiwan, I was not able to look for a specific ASICS Store but it was inside the SOGO Department Store where I was able to discover the latest products of ASICS direct and made from Japan. The SOGO Department Store is like our Rustan’s Department Store except that the lady attendants are lined up in front of the store’s gate/main door to greet you and simultaneously bow their heads as you enter the SOGO Department Store. These ladies are well-groomed with their uniform & fashionable hat! I bought my ASICS Gel-LyteRacer on the 10th Floor of the said Department Store located in one of the financial districts in Taipeh.

Nice color combination of Red & White

The first time that I used this model was during the 2011 Condura Skyway Marathon without any break-ins. Since I did not train for this Marathon Race, I thought of using the shoes for a long run as its break-in. The shoes provided me with a comfortable pace and without any problems on my feet and legs. I finished the race with a slow time but I did not have any injuries whatsoever. The LyteRacer is considered as a Racing Shoes with Stabilizers on the Heel and Forefoot areas. The shoes are light but a little heavier than my ASICS Gel-HyperSpeed 3. It is fully-cushioned considering that the shoes are racing shoes. It is highly recommended for neutral runners.

I will not mention those technical data about the name of the materials being used for this shoes but the bottom line is that ASICS has the highest quality in terms of comfort and durability of its products. The price in Taiwan Dollar when converted to Peso is very cheap as it sums up to less than Five Thousand Pesos only!

Heel Portion & LyteRacer Name on the Shoes

As of now, I have just breached 100 kilometers as the total distance of usage for these shoes. This is now my preferred shoes whenever I have my LSD workouts.

(Note: This particular model is not available in the USA and in the local market)





ASICS Gel-Tarther

25 05 2010

 This is my new racing shoes which is reserved for the MILO Marathon Elimination to be held this coming July 4, 2010. We will see what this “new toy” will do to my next marathon race.

I bought this racing shoes in an ASICS Store in Jeju Island (South Korea) last March 2010. I bought it at a cheaper price than the suggested price posted at the shoes’ website (www.asics.com) when the sales lady gave a 10% discount after I’ve showed her my website/blog in their store’s computer! The lady could hardly speak and understand English but when he saw my face in my blogsite, she got the message that I am a dedicated runner.

ASICS Gel Tarther

Since I am a “die-hard” ASICS runner, my shoe review for this item would be very favorable just like the ASICS Gel-Hyper Speed 3 that I’ve been using in my latest marathon races & 50K run in Jeju Island. In the ASICS Store where I bought this item, these racing shoes have a separate section in the store which is labeled as “Marathon Racing Shoes”. This model is the 3rd ranking lighest racing shoes for ASICS! If I remember right, the ASICS Racing Shoe with inscription “Japan” at the back portion of the heel counter of the shoe is the lightest among these Marathon Racing Shoes on display.





Shoe Review: ASICS Gel-Hyper Speed 3

9 04 2010

 I bought this ASICS racing shoes as my “prize” for finishing the 2009 Los Angeles Marathon in May of same year. I think I bought it through On Line/Internet with a cheaper price as it was not available in the running specialty stores in Los Angeles. I did not try to use it for my daily training or made a “break-in” of this racing flat shoes and had to use it immediately in a Marathon Race.

What caught my attention and interest in buying this racing flat was for the reason to have a lightweight racing flat for my road races aside from the fact that I am an ASICS “die-hard and loyalist”. The shoes was advertised to have a weight of 6.9 ounces! The running shoes that I used in the 2009 Los Angeles Marathon was my one-year old ASICS Gel-DS-Trainer which I have retired after the said marathon. As compared with the DS-Trainer, the Hyper Speed 3 is much, much lighter.

It was advertised also as the official racing flats used by US Marathon Runners Ryan Hall and Deena Castor in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Although these runners did not win any medals in the Olympic Marathon Race, the shoes was still popular because of its lightweight but well-cushioned sole due to the presence of gel inserts which “disperse shock on foot impact on the ground and during toe-off”. It also has “Magic Sole” which minimizes weight and maximizes breathability because of the presence of well-placed “holes” on the sole. Even the open mesh upper is made of lightweight material which provides comfort to the feet and additional breathability.

ASICS Gel-Hyper Speed 3

 The first time that I used this shoes was during the 2009 MILO Marathon Elimination which was held last July 5, 2009. I did a poor performance on this race due to lack of training and preparation after the 2009 Los Angeles Marathon. The shoes was really light and versatile for marathon races as I did not have any problems or pains after the marathon race. The shoe appears to have a narrow width but as soon as I wear them, I can still feel more room for my feet. But in order to prevent my upper midfoot from sliding from side to side, I have to tighten the narrow & thin shoestrings for me to feel a “tight & well-snugged” fit with my feet and the shoes.

Since then, I’ve been using this lightweight racing flat in my next marathon races except when I participated in the 2009 Pasig River Marathon in November where I used an Adidas Adizero Racing Flat. I think this sudden change in racing shoes had also contributed to my peroneus injury at the middle of the said marathon race. In my other marathon races, this shoes helped me a lot to register better finish times in the 2009 MILO Marathon Finals and the 2nd SMART Subic International Marathon.

Lately, I used this shoes in my latest Condura Marathon held last February of this year. So far, I used this racing flats in only four (4) marathon races which is contrary to some of the reviews that I’ve read that say that this racing flat is more recommended to be used up to half-marathon distance races. But with my experience, this racing flat is perfect for the marathon distance. However, this kind of shoes should not be used in trail running as small rocks and dirt might enter through the “holes” of its “Magic Sole”.

Since I only use this shoes in my Marathon Races, I think I have yet to breach the 200-Km usage of this racing flat. After browsing the Website of ASICS, I’ve seen the new model of this shoes, which is the Hyper Speed 4. I guess, I have to wait for my Hyper Speed 3 to reach the 600-700-Km mileage before I will be able to replace it with the latest model.

I don’t recommend this racing flats to those who are using cushioned/stability shoes as these are neutral shoes. I don’t also recommend this shoes to those heavyweight runners, moreso, with the “newbies” and those who have not yet experienced their first full marathon. This racing flats need strong feet and strong legs for them to provide the runner’s a decent finish time in any road race.





Duncan: A Typical Young Runner

23 08 2009

After I participated in this morning’s BOTAK 10-Mile Run at UP Diliman Campus, I stayed at the Campus for another 8-kilometer slow run and then waited for the start of the 1-Mile Street Run. I did not join the 1-Mile Street Run but I cheered for the members of the Elite Team Bald Runner who joined this event.

When the Kid’s/Youth’s Wave started, I positioned myself on the last 20 meters before the Finish Line with a good view of the runners approaching and watch their facial expressions on the last sprint towards the Finish Line. This wave was won by a 12-year old kid whose name is Duncan who registered a finish time of 4:36 minutes for the 1-Mile Street Run.

As he passed on my position towards the Finish Line, I observed his running shoes. I was shocked to see his shoes!

Let the following pictures describe what I’ve seen which broke my heart for this young runner who has the potentials of being a future “Olympic” athlete…

His shoes was wrapped with Masking Tape!!!

His right shoe was wrapped with Masking Tape!!!

His Shoes Are Torn on The Sides!

His Shoes Are Torn on The Sides!

This is Duncan, A Future Olympian

This is Duncan, A Future Olympian

If you want to help Duncan, please leave your Comment. His running shoes size is 7.





ASICS Tiger Ultimate 81

25 06 2009

If you still remember and was able to use this kind of running shoes in the late 70s and early 80s, you could be within my age group of 55-59 years old this time or maybe you are a little older.  In the early 1984, I was using the ASICS Tiger X-Caliber GT and I was able to use the said shoes in finishing three (3) marathon races then. Later, it became as X-Caliber GT II and it was then the start when ASICS used Gel in their running shoes. The X-Caliber GTs just vanished in the early 90s and they were replaced by the GEL models. 

Now, Onitsuka Tiger revived these shoes last year/early this year and it is now popular among the younger generation as casual shoes. If Frank Shorter was able to use this kind of running shoes in the 1972 Olympic Games when he won the Gold Medal in the Marathon and make this shoes as the cover of the popular book by James Fixx, The Complete Book of Running in 1977, it is worth to have one of these retro shoes and bring back the memories of the 70s & 80s running “boom”. The ASICS Tiger Ultimate was considered as the “sports car” among the running shoes during those times. 

I don’t recommend this kind of retro ASICS Tiger shoes to the “newbies” , “non-hardcore” runners and those who are prone to feet/legs related injuries. However, these retro shoes are highly recommended as casual shoes with your dark blue denim jeans or summer shorts & casual shirts.

I hope to use it in my tempo runs at the track and on the road. We will see how it feels to run again back to the 70s and 80s!

Top View of Onitsuka Tiger Ultimate

Top View of Onitsuka Tiger Ultimate

Nice Drymax Running Socks!!!

Nice Drymax Running Socks!!!

I bought this shoes at the Finish Line Sports Store located inside the Beverly Center Mall in Los Angeles with a price of $ 49.95 + tax.





Latest Donors: Project Donate A Shoe

20 04 2009

Two weeks ago, I received a Balikbayan Box (BB) full of slightly used running shoes from Joe Matias aka A Running Shoe Guru, the owner of the A Runners Circle Sports Store in Los Angeles, California. The BB contained twenty-six (26) pairs of running shoes. These shoes were received by Joe from the runner-customers of his store located near Griffith Park, Los Angeles.

Balikbayan Box From Joe Matias aka "A Running Shoe Guru"

Balikbayan Box From Joe Matias aka "A Running Shoe Guru"

A View of the Well-Packed Shoes

A View of the Well-Packed Shoes

ASICS-18; Brooks-4; New Balance-2; Saucony-1; Nike-1

ASICS-18; Brooks-4; New Balance-2; Saucony-1; Nike-1

Last week, Mark Robinson from Nottinghamshire, England arrived in Manila and he brought with him sixteen (16) pairs of running shoes for the Project Donate A Shoe donated by his running mates at the Southwell Running Club of the same city where he resides. These shoes were handed to me when he had his running workout at the Mall of Asia last 12 April 2009.

Mark Robinson of Nottinghamshire, England With The Bags Of Shoes

Mark Robinson of Nottinghamshire, England With The Bags Of Shoes

Displayed Running Shoes From Mark Robinson

Displayed Running Shoes From Mark Robinson

To Joe and Mark, thank you very much! These slightly used running shoes will be handed over to our runners in the neighboring provinces of Metro Manila.








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