GEAR UP

EN­TER CUSH­ION­ING

Runner's World (UK) - - Old Ways, New Ways -

THE OLD WAY You pulled on a shape­less cot­ton T-shirt, shorts that showed more thigh than seemed de­cent, and socks of some kind. If you were plan­ning to go hard, you snapped a sweat­band onto your head. You may have topped off the se­ri­ous-run­ner look with a state-of-theart watch (mean­ing it told the time and had a stop­watch func­tion!)

THE NEW WAY You’re com­pressed in head-to-toe tech fabric and your smart­phone knows how fast and far you run, your heart rate, your GPS co­or­di­nates and your favourite songs, which it blasts through your ear­buds.

THE BEST WAY While mois­ture-wick­ing fab­rics and Gps-equipped de­vices ap­peal to many, cot­ton ap­parel and ba­sic dig­i­tal watches still ex­ist, so in­vest in what­ever gear and tech you find com­fort­able, use­ful and af­ford­able.

Still, if that means run­ning with your smart­phone and/or a GPS watch, bear in mind that oc­ca­sion­ally go­ing old school by ditch­ing them can be re­fresh­ing and may even help you be­come a bet­ter run­ner. De­vices can be crutches; without them guid­ing your run you can bet­ter tune in to your body and de­velop an in­nate sense of pac­ing. Also, be­ing too re­liant on mu­sic or your GPS while train­ing can back­fire if your de­vice mal­func­tions on race day.

Us­ing GPS cer­tainly has its place on im­por­tant runs, when you want to closely mea­sure re­sults, says run­ning coach Dun­can Larkin, au­thor of Run Sim­ple: a Mi­namilist Ap­proach to Fit­ness and Well-be­ing (Westholme). But be­ing bom­barded by data be­fore, dur­ing and af­ter every run can lead to ‘anal­y­sis paral­y­sis’, he says, ‘with data overload gen­er­at­ing more con­fu­sion than clar­ity’. Leav­ing de­vices be­hind at least once a week lets you re­lax and de­com­press. You just go out and run, and when you don’t want to run any more, you stop.

In July 1971, Run­ner’s world re­leased a 46-page booklet called All About Dis­tance Run­ning Shoes, which gath­ered opin­ions from 800 read­ers. The av­er­age re­spon­dent was a 29-year-old, 5΄9" 10st 5lb man who had been run­ning 50 miles per week for six years.

Read­ers named a whop­ping 66 mod­els from 32 brands, but the vast ma­jor­ity wore Tiger, Adi­das or New Bal­ance. In fact, more than 60 per cent ran in Tigers and their mod­els topped the pop­u­lar­ity lists in both train­ing and rac­ing.

Tiger’s Marathon won praise for its glove-like fit and flex­i­ble, ‘bare­foot’ feel. But their top train­ing model, the Cortez, of­fered some­thing ground­break­ing: cush­ion­ing. The first shoes de­signed for Amer­i­can run­ners by Bow­er­man, the Cortez had a sponge-rubber mid­sole, with a wedge-shaped sec­ond layer of cush­ion­ing un­der the heel to absorb impact and re­duce stress on the Achilles ten­don. In 1972, the Cortez be­came the flag­ship shoe of a new com­pany founded by Bow­er­man and Knight – Nike.

The Cortez’s im­mense pop­u­lar­ity es­tab­lished that run­ners wanted cush­ion­ing. And it wasn’t long be­fore shoe de­sign­ers found a su­pe­rior ma­te­rial to pro­vide it. ‘I re­ceived a phone call from a guy named Marty Liquori, who was a world-class run­ner at the time,’ says Jerry Turner, who was then pres­i­dent of Brooks. ‘Marty had seen our at­tempts at jog­ging shoes and wanted to dis­cuss them. He gave me an ed­u­ca­tion.’

Turner took Liquori’s sug­ges­tions to a rep­re­sen­ta­tive from the Monarch Rubber Com­pany in Bal­ti­more, Mary­land, US. ‘I wanted more re­bound, bet­ter shock ab­sorp­tion, lighter weight,’ says Turner. ‘The guy said, “I think

I’ve got just the thing for you. I’ll be back to­mor­row.” And the next day he comes back and shows me EVA.’

EVA, or eth­yl­ene vinyl ac­etate, an air-in­fused foam, is still the pri­mary in­gre­di­ent in most run­ning-shoe mid­soles. Brooks put EVA in their 1975 Vil­lanova, and other com­pa­nies quickly fol­lowed suit. Then, in 1981, Nike re­leased the first shoe with a moulded mid­sole made out of Phy­lon, a com­pressed form of EVA de­vel­oped by toy com­pany Mat­tel for use in bath toys.

In this era of in­no­va­tion and flair, com­pa­nies also started tin­ker­ing with other parts of the run­ning shoe. In Ore­gon, Bill Bow­er­man melted some rubber in his kitchen and the ‘waf­fle’ sole was born. ‘The waf­fle sole de­fined not only grip but also flex char­ac­ter­is­tics and, to a large scale, the cush­ion­ing, which it was quite ef­fec­tive in pro­vid­ing,’ says po­di­a­trist and shoe-de­sign con­sul­tant Si­mon Bar­told. Other brands fol­lowed with sim­i­lar de­signs and the in­flu­ence can still be seen in out­sole de­sign.

Ny­lon up­pers largely re­placed leather by the mid-1970s, with mesh op­tions also start­ing to ap­pear. And women’s shoes were no longer just ‘shrink-and-pink’. ‘By the early 1980s, most larger brands were us­ing women-spe­cific lasts,’ says Dr Mar­tyn Shorten, biome­chan­ics re­searcher and di­rec­tor of the Run­ner’sworld Shoe Lab.

THE RW GUIDES As op­tions con­tin­ued to grow, Run­ner’s World con­sulted po­di­a­trists, run­ners and shoe man­u­fac­tur­ers to cre­ate a list of cri­te­ria for what makes a good run­ning shoe. The rank­ings favoured shoes that had thick, durable soles and a high heel lift, while still be­ing light­weight, and with a flex­i­ble fore­foot. It also gave points for a strong heel counter, arch sup­port and pli­able up­pers.

In 1975 Run­ner’s World re­leased the first of its an­nual Shoe Guides, with the Adi­das SL-72 tak­ing top hon­ours thanks to its rigid heel counter, soft ny­lon up­per and flex­i­bil­ity.

Then, to in­crease the re­li­a­bil­ity of the rank­ings, RW hired Peter Ca­vanaugh, di­rec­tor of the biome­chan­ics lab­o­ra­tory at Penn State Univer­sity, to con­duct the very first ob­jec­tive mea­sure­ments of cush­ion­ing, flex­i­bil­ity and dura­bil­ity. Ca­vanaugh’s in­valu­able data first ap­peared in 1977. A panel of 10 ex­perts also ranked the shoes sub­jec­tively and th­ese marks were com­bined with the lab data. The Brooks Van­tage topped the 1977 list, stand­ing out as the first shoe to try to con­trol the in­ward ro­ta­tion – or prona­tion – of the foot. Tak­ing the advice of po­di­a­trist Steven Subot­nick, Brooks had in­serted a wedge so that the run­ner’s whole foot slanted slightly out­ward.

In 1978, with more and more quality mod­els be­com­ing avail­able, the mag­a­zine aban­doned rank­ings and ini­ti­ated a one-to-five star sys­tem. Some com­pa­nies ob­jected to the scor­ing, and Nike ac­tu­ally pulled its ad­ver­tis­ing for sev­eral years, feel­ing the com­pany and its prod­ucts were be­ing treated un­fairly, but the mag­a­zine stood up to the pres­sure and held firm. ‘I think it was a very im­por­tant part of the mag­a­zine, and very im­por­tant to the whole run­ning scene,’ says RW founder Bob An­der­son. ‘It helped com­pa­nies un­der­stand what run­ners needed. We set the stage.’

1975 Brooks in­tro­duces the first EVA mid­sole in the Vil­lanova.

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