Feet first for marathon training

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Are you ready to run? It’s time to start thinking about the footwear that will carry you across the finish line

Time for change
Your favourite trainers may have seen you through tough runs and terrible winter weather, but they’re probably looking a little worse for wear. However, if you want to invest in new kicks, you need to do it sooner rather than later to wear them in before the big day.

‘If you’re planning on wearing new trainers on marathon day then allow at least three to four weeks beforehand to complete a minimum of around 30 to 40 miles in total in your new shoes,’ tips running coach Nina Anderson (www.ninaanderson.com). ‘During this period, continue to wear your old trainers for some of your runs and build up wearing your new running shoes gradually. This is a good way to work out whether your trainers are going to be comfortable enough for the race itself and help to avoid blisters.’

Protect your tootsies
If you’re serious about running, it’s important to get your gait analysed. Any aches and pains you’ve been pushing through could be down to wearing the wrong shoes and if they’re not fixed, they could lead to serious injury. ‘A gait analysis enables you to buy a running shoe specific to your individual needs and foot strike. It’s one of the simplest things a runner can do to reduce the chance of injury and is an absolute must for anyone who runs,’ says Nina.

Women’s Fitness staffer Ellie Moss checked out the gait analysis service at Sweatshop recently – she reports back…

Feet first Sweatshop’s Dorota Antonczyk asked me to stand on a scanner that helped her examine the structure of my feet. This revealed that I have quite low, though not collapsed, arches, which was news to me and requires some extra support when running.

She also took pictures of my feet when standing and squatting to assess the alignment of my heels, ankles and legs, which she was able to show me on a feedback screen. Thankfully, these all looked to be in the right place! Dorota then took some standard insoles, and with the help of some warming pads, moulded them around my feet.

Take it in your stride Next it was onto the treadmill where Dorota asked me to take a short run in a pair of neutral trainers while my feet were filmed to assess my stride and running efficiency. The computer also allows you to draw lines to show the ideal alignment when running to see how yours differs from this, if at all.

We watched the film back in slow motion and could see that I was overpronating with both feet, that I strike more with the middle of my foot than my heel and that my right ankle was collapsing inwards slightly.

All in all this meant that I need shoes designed to correct overpronation, which also support my arch. And, as if that wasn’t enough, I also have quite wide feet, so needed to find trainers that don’t rub or pinch.

The great shoe hunt With all this in mind, we set out to find the perfect running shoes. We started with about 12 pairs and began to slowly narrow down the selection. I ran on the treadmill in four or five pairs and, watching the footage back in slow motion, it was clear the positive effect that the right support could have on my running efficiency.

The verdict
I was really impressed with the advice I received and the time taken to ensure I got the right shoe (I was there for about an hour!) and would highly recommend a gait analysis. I’m a 5K and 10K runner, but even at these relatively short distances the right shoes can make a real difference – so imagine what they could do for your marathon training! I went for a run that very evening in my new shoes (and new insoles!) and have to say that they were blissfully comfortable around my regular 7K route.

If you’re experiencing any aches and pains after your runs or your beloved trainers are beginning to look a little threadbare, take action now!

Free gait analysis is available at any Sweatsh