Prior to our modern age, men ran for reasons other than to stay in shape. Running was the quickest way for people to get to their destination prior to the advent of common modes of transport. Early man had to run in order to hunt his food and escape from his enemies, and many times his life depended on his ability to run. The development of footwear served to protect men’s feet when they walked and ran, and in modern times, it serves the same purpose. Today, men run to stay in shape, and footwear has evolved through technology to not only protect men’s feet, but help to enhance their performance and ease the impact of running on their lower extremities. Today’s footwear is highly advanced and designed to enhance a runners safety and performance. This guide explores the elements of quality running trainers, how they are constructed, and what to look for when purchasing and new pair.
Different Types of Running
The best type of running trainers to purchase depends to a large extent on the type of running that an individual plans to do. There are two basic types of environments that people commonly run in, and each one has particular shoe types that are adapted for that specific purpose.
Road trainers are designed specifically for pavement and consistent surfaces with only slight irregularities such as paths and nature trails. They are lightweight and designed to provide cushioning and stabilisation when running on hard but even surfaces.
Trail trainers are similar to running trainers, but they feature a sturdier and more rugged design to cope with the additional stresses of off-road environments. They are built with aggressive outsoles that are designed for increased traction on loose soil and gravel, and they are built to give the runner additional support and foot protection. Trail runners are good in uneven and slippery surfaces where the terrain is inconsistent.
Understanding the Foot
In order to find the best possible running trainer, it is important to understand the aspects of a runner foot and how it performs while running in order to make the most informed decision. Runners must first determine the mechanics of their stride in order to find trainers to best cushion or support their feet, and then they need to be certain of their size and arch type to determine the exact fit.
The biomechanics of a runner's stride is slightly different for each individual. When walking, most people put their heel down first and then roll their foot from the outer edge toward the arch to cushion the step. When people run, these movements vary amongst individuals and we each experience a different type of sideways movement of the foot that needs to be addressed when purchasing a new trainer.
Pronation is the foot’s natural tendency to roll inward after the initial impact of the heal. Runners who have normal pronation are classified as neutral pronation and their feet rotate normally from the outer edge to the arch.
Overpronation is when individuals role their feet inward beyond the neutral flat point of pronation and overly rotate inward passed the arch and onto the inward edge of the foot. This type of stride needs corrective supporting trainers to help prevent stress that can lead to knee and shin damage.
Supination is the exact opposite of pronation and occurs when a runner roles the foot from the inner edge outward. This type of stride creates a much more harsh impact for the foot and requires trainers that have a good deal of cushioning characteristics.
Foot Size and Arch Shape
The next important aspect to consider prior to selecting a running trainer is to determine the exact size and arch shape of the foot. These measurements will be vital to selecting a proper trainer that will be comfortable and have the correct support.
Determining foot size is one of the most important aspects of purchasing new trainers. The best way to discover foot size is to get professionally fitted in a shoe store using a Brannock device. This will give the buyer their exact specifications, but even with this information in hand, it’s best to try on various styles of trainers because shoes can vary in fit between each manufacturer. Once a good fitting brand is found, the runner should stick with that trainer.
Arch shape can affect the comfort level of a shoe as much as size. High arches are characteristic of a very narrow footprint in which the ball of the foot and the heel of the foot are connected by a very slim or non-existent area if the individual were to observe their wet footprint upon the ground. Normal arches will leave what looks like a normal footprint when walking with wet feet with a clear bridge between the ball of the foot and the heel, and individuals with low arches will appear to be flat footed with a very wide area between the ball and heel.
There are three main parts to the construction of a shoe. The best running trainers utilise high quality materials and construction techniques.
The upper section of the trainer is the portion of the shoe above the sole. A well made upper will be attractive but also provide comfort and support to the runner.
Nylon is a synthetic material that is durable and breathable. It is commonly used to create uppers in high end running trainers due to its light weight and strength.
Synthetic leather is soft and has abrasion resistant qualities. It is more breathable than real leather and is quicker drying. The main advantage of synthetic leather is that is requires very little break in time, which reduces the risk of blisters.
The midsole is the portion of the trainer between the upper and the outsole. The midsole is where the cushioning and supportive aspects of the trainer reside. High quality trainers will feature midsoles constructed of specialised foams and synthetic leather.
The outsole is the bottom portion of the trainer that contacts the running surface. Road trainers are usually constructed using hard rubber materials in the heel for durability, and air infused rubber in the mid area and forefoot to provide more cushioning.
Minimalist: Back to the Future
A new movement has begun recently in the running world known as minimalist or barefoot running. Studies have been conducted that suggest that the higher the level of technology in a running shoe, the more susceptible the wearer becomes to injury. It is believed in some circles that the foot is naturally adapted to running and wearing running shoes force the runner to plant the heel first and then roll towards the toe. This puts undue stress on the lower portion of the body and results in an increase in lower extremity injuries. When barefoot, runners tend to land on the central outer edge of the foot and roll inward from the little toe to the big toe. This occurs naturally and is thought to be the body automatically cushioning itself from the impact of running. It appears that the foot acts on its own to reduce the stress encountered when running
Regardless of the science surrounding shoe technology, studies have shown that runners who run barefoot or wear minimalist running gear such as Vibram Five Fingers or Nike Free footwear, experience a significantly reduced risk of injury while running. The growing trend of minimalist footwear is creating new inspiration for running and active trainers that seems to be getting runners back to their roots.
How to Buy the Best Running Trainers on eBay
Finding and purchasing the best running trainers should not be a difficult shopping experience. Once you have determined your foot size, you can save yourself a great deal of time and money by utilising the powerful search tools available on eBay. From the homepage, you can enter a keyword such as men’s running trainers, and all of the available auctions with that keyword will be listed. You can simply browse the various auctions to find the right trainer, or if you already know the brand you want, you can enter that into the search box to narrow the search.
Once you have settled on a pair of running trainers, it is important to verify that the seller has good feedback. The eBay community utilises buyer ratings and feedback to rate a seller on the overall quality of the transactions. Sellers who have consistently good feedback can be relied upon to conduct themselves in a trustworthy and professional manner.
Running trainers are specifically designed to offer a runner support and cushioning to alleviate the stresses that occur to the lower body when running. Trainers can be specialised toward running on the road or in the woods and on trails depending on the runner’s desire. Advanced construction techniques ensure that regardless of the type of conditions a runner chooses, high quality trainers have the features needed to minimise the harsh effects endured when running. Different individuals have different stride styles when they run, and there are different types of running trainers available to assist in cushioning the feet against the damage of an improper stride.
Once a runner determines the brand of trainer they like and one that is made for their type of running style, the next step is to research the best deals available. With a little research, runners can find well constructed trainers for very reasonable prices, especially when searching for second hand trainers on auction sites such as eBay.