Running a Marathon: Do Your Shoes Matter?


Training for a marathon is more than just running for fun or recreation. When you train for a marathon, you are preparing your body for a strenuous, but rewarding, physical challenge that requires endurance, strength, and discipline. Before you put on your asics shoes, you have to have a mindset to prepare you for the big day. But besides months of stretching your body to its limits, you need to be sure to choose the right athletic gear to protect your feet. Choosing the right shoes can make the difference between success and injury.

Light or Heavy Running Shoes?

There is a bit of debate over whether runners should get lighter shoes when preparing for a marathon. The biggest decision in choosing the right shoe for marathon training is enough protective cushion over avoiding too much weight on your feet. Most running shoes for long distance runners design a more minimalist running shoe. The midsole and heels will have enough cushion to prevent injury, but not so much that they impede running. This is essential as many marathon runners will start to feel fatigue near the end of the race. The additional weight will add up.

However, some elite athletes will opt for flats. They eliminate all cushion and support, forcing their excellent biomechanics and muscles to work very hard. These athletes are typically underweight and in excellent health. Their natural biomechanics are superb. They have little to no history of injury. Because of this, they can risk running in flats that have minimal cushion and support. Even these athletes risk serious injury, though, if they push themselves too far and do not listen to their body.

While running in flats may be an option for some athletes, these runners do risk straining their muscles. This might cause injuries to their calf muscles, Achilles tendon, and heel. An injured heel or Achilles tendon can bench an athlete for months or a year. A well-cushioned shoe with enough support is key in avoiding such injuries. Your medical professional, coach, or trainer can help you determine what type of running shoe is best for your body type and feet.

When Should I Buy the Shoes?

The rule of thumb when training for a marathon is that you want to practice running with the gear and shoes that you plan to use on the day of the marathon. Why? Buying new running shoes the day before the big race doesn’t give you enough time to adjust to the new shoes. Nor does it allow you to “break in” the sneakers. This goes for any other gear you might wear. Instead incorporate the shoes and gear into designated practice runs that prepare you for the race day. Think of these as a dress rehearsal. On these days, you will wear everything that you will wear the day of the race. You don’t want to use the same shoes every day, to avoid running them down before the big day. Follow these simple guidelines before your next marathon.

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