Run­ning shoes, equip­ment have come long way

Idea is to help peo­ple stay in­jury-free, en­joy sport year-round


New peo­ple are tak­ing up run­ning and, thanks to bet­ter shoes and other devel­op­ments, their chances of en­joy­ing the sport in a healthy, pos­i­tive way have never been bet­ter, says lo­cal run­ning in­struc­tor Mark Hub­bard.

Whether they’re look­ing for a new pair of run­ning shoes or maybe they want to make sure they’re ready for the cold weather that’s on the way, mod­ern-day run­ners are in a bet­ter po­si­tion to avoid in­juries and han­dle win­try con­di­tions than they would have been years ago.

There was a time – back in the early years of the run­ning boom – when buy­ing shoes might have in­volved vis­it­ing a store, try­ing on a pair and, if they felt good, pur­chas­ing them. There might not have been much of a se­lec­tion and the shoes might not have been the ideal pair for the per­son buy­ing them.

Hub­bard says when some­one comes into Run­ner’s At­tic, where he works, look­ing for shoes, he will ask them if they have knee prob­lems or the like. He will try to see if they pronate or supinate. Some peo­ple may need more cush­ion­ing. Ba­si­cally, the idea is to find a shoe that best meets their needs. Run­ning shoes have come a long way, Hub­bard says.

“It used to be, I think, that you’d have a de­signer de­sign­ing a pair of sneak­ers and they would just snap it to­gether and sell them,” he said, adding to­day it’s very high-tech, given the use of com­put­ers and re­search and anal­y­sis that is in­volved.

Some shoes may be more ex­pen­sive than oth­ers – given all the hands in­volved in pro­duc­ing them – but the idea is to help peo­ple run with­out get­ting hurt, Hub­bard says. Run­ner’s At­tic has more than 100 styles of run­ning shoes.

While their chances of get­ting in­jured are re­duced with a good pair of shoes and a sen­si­ble ap­proach to train­ing, how­ever, Hub­bard ac­knowl­edges that run­ning can still hurt, par­tic­u­larly for a new run­ner.

“I liken it to arm-wrestling,” he said. “If you’ve never arm-wres­tled be­fore and you arm-wres­tle tonight, to­mor­row morn­ing your arm’s go­ing to hurt, but if you keep arm-wrestling, you’re go­ing to build up mus­cle, you’re go­ing to get more tol­er­ant, you’re go­ing to get stronger. You’re just go­ing to per­se­vere.”

Aside from shoes, mean­while, Hub­bard cites the im­prove­ments in run­ning cloth­ing that help keep run­ners warmer in the win­ter and cooler in the sum­mer.

“When you see us out­doors run­ning in the win­ter­time, (when it’s) mi­nus 10, we’ve got three lit­tle lay­ers on,” he said. “I think if you were run­ning back in the 70s, you’d have a parka or you just wouldn’t bother go­ing out. You’d look out­side and say, ‘I can’t do it. I don’t have the gear for it.’ Now we’ve got the gear for it.”

A fairly new shoe has trac­tion for ice, he said.

Run­ning re­mains a pretty pop­u­lar ac­tiv­ity in the Yar­mouth area, with many events in the spring and sum­mer and peo­ple out on the roads pretty much year-round.

“There are schools that have started run clubs,” Hub­bard said. “We do run clubs here. The YMCA has a group.”

And more peo­ple are giv­ing it a try.

“We are get­ting lots of new peo­ple,” Hub­bard said. “Ev­ery shape, ev­ery size, every­body is out there be­cause it’s just healthy to be mov­ing.”

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