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Dressing Your Feet

What you wear on your feet is very important when training for a marathon. Here’s a good rule of thumb: running shoes are good for 300-400 miles or six months. Wearing them longer can increase your risk for injuries. Purchasing running shoes a couple times a year is a relatively inexpensive investment, compared to getting and treating an injury.

  • Consider purchasing two pairs of running shoes that are different brands. They should, however, have the same classification: cushion, stability or motion control.
  • Alternate their use. They will last longer and wear better. More importantly, they will decrease your risk for injury by varying the way your foot hits the ground. For instance, Craig uses stability running shoes and alternates between the Mizuno Alchemy and the Asics Kayano.
  • Consult with a physical therapist to learn what type of shoe works best for your feet. Physical therapists like us can evaluate your lower extremity biomechanics – a fancy term for looking at how your foot moves and hits the ground when you run. From that, we can suggest what type of shoe is best for you.

Choosing race day shoes

Evidence does suggest wearing a racing shoe can lower your race time by 1 to 3 percent. When running a marathon (or a leg of a marathon), this can translate into a considerable amount of time. The improvement in performance is attributed to less weight, more flexibility and more responsiveness to your feet.

A word of caution: Racing shoes are less supportive overall. If you have biomechanical faults in your running stride, they will be magnified by a racing shoe. Most marathoners race in lightweight training shoes – a sort of hybrid between regular training shoes and racing shoes. They can be hard to find, so check out specialty running stores.

If you opt for racing shoes, be sure to use them for some of your pre-marathon workouts so that your legs get used to them, about 40 to 80 miles. It is never a good idea to start a marathon in a new pair of shoes.

This tip is presented by Craig Souders and Jesse Schimmer, physical therapists at Lehigh Valley Health Network.

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