Essential Triathlon Gear – Part III (The Run)

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OK…so no video for Part III…there just wasn’t anything that needed to be shown on a video for this section of the triathlon gear series. I figured you could do without listening to and watching me on a video again.

The only thing I am really going to talk about in this section is shoes. Sure, there are hats and sunglasses and tech shirts and shorts and who knows what else. I won’t talk about those things simply because they are mostly just a matter of personal preference and don’t take any real experience or in-depth knowledge to pick out…at least for the average triathlete.

Shoes, on the other hand, are a very difficult and mysterious piece of triathlon gear. I would say that a majority of triathletes and runners out there have had some type of running injury over the years. Why is that? Is it because running just beats your body up? Well, maybe…but then there are guys like Dean Karnazes (Check out www.ultramarathonman.com) who can run 50 marathons in 50 straight days. This guy has never had a running injury in his life. He runs for 48 hours straight and doesn’t get a running injury. How is that possible when I can get ITB syndrome in my knee training for a half ironman running 25 miles a week? Well, it seems to me that it all has to do with your running mechanics. Dean has nearly perfect running mechanics which means that he needs no additional support from special running shoes or orthotics to correct the way his feet push off the ground or land on the ground. Do you have perfect running mechanics? Possible…but I wouldn’t just hope that is the case and go out running with any old pair of shoes. Thankfully, there is a very large group of people out there just waiting to take your money and evaluate what kind of shoes you need. You can go to a running store or even a running doctor to get fit for the proper pair of shoes. Now, the shoes at these stores are likely not going to be discounted and I can guarantee that a good pair of running shoes is not going to be cheap…but IT IS WORTH THE MONEY. Nothing is worse for an athlete than to be sidelined by an injury. Don’t spare any expense when it comes to running shoes. Take some of that money that you saved by not buying carbon aero bars and carbon bottle cages (see my bike gear blog…part II of this series) and use it to buy the name brand running shoes that are right for your feet and then replace them every 300-500 miles. Don’t ignore this!

My story: I was training for my first half ironman in 2007 (my third season of triathlons) and was slowly increasing my mileage per my plan. I was running in a pair of neutral New Balance shoes that had treated me well thus far. I was pretty sure that neutral shoes were what I needed based on internet research and my own “wet foot” tests. Then, one week during an 8 mile beach race, I felt some pain in my knee. I started to feel pain around mile 5 but I just kept going. I was sidelined with ITB syndrome for the rest of the season and had a difficult time getting back into running. I ended up going to a doctor specializing in running in San Diego (while I was there for work) and he fit me with the right shoes and some insoles and I have been running injury free for over 3 years now.

Barefoot Running: Ok…a few words about barefoot running. There is a buzz out there right now about running barefoot. Many believe that shoes are actually the problem and not the solution for running injuries…and they may very well be correct. The theory is that the reason that our feet need special shoes that support our feet in different ways is because our feet are weak from having all of this support. If we run barefoot, our feet get stronger and learn to support themselves and we won’t need the shoes that are causing the problem. My thoughts: I don’t necessarily disagree with this theory. Many claim to have had great results and overcome lifelong running issues by going barefoot. So should you just go barefoot and forget about shoes? My advice is, if you have been running injury free for a while and feel as though you have the proper shoes for you, stick with what you are doing. If you are having injury issues and can’t seem to get the right shoes, it might be worth looking into barefoot running. Just make sure that you go VERY slowly to allow your feet to gain strength…if you just go out and start running your normal mileage barefoot…you will most certainly hurt yourself. A good source for info on this is Mark Sisson (www.marksdailyapple.com).

Anyway, the main thing that I would like for you to take away from this blog is that running shoes are not something to be taken lightly. You should spend time and money making sure that you have a good pair of running shoes that is right for you so that you do not get injured.

I hope you found this information useful and please feel free to email me with questions or leave comments.

Ryan Chapman
B.A.S.E. Training
ryan@tribasetraining.com

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