It’s easy to understand how a good pair of running shoes can significantly affect your running in a positive, or negative way. But socks? I will go into detail on both, what I wear, and why it matters to you!
When I first started running I had no clue that there were running shoes. I thought a tennis shoe was the same no matter what. I found out the hard way that shoes really DO matter.
I had been running distance (and by distance I mean 3-4 miles) for a couple months on a pair of Nike’s (cannot remember the name). They were not fitted to my feet, and were definitely NOT running shoes.
Now, before I go any further, I am not discounting Nike shoes by any means. Nike makes fantastic running shoes. I was just not wearing them.
I began to have intense pain in my right knee. Like barely able to walk pain. I would stumble to class (about a 20 minute walk each way) and then sit for an hour or two. After class was over it was very difficult to move my knee. I would be in terrible amounts of pain and at this time had no idea that it was resulting from my shoes.
After talking with a professor (remember I studied exercise science), I decided to go to a running store. I was referred to Running Wild, which is located in Coralville, Iowa. There are other branches in Iowa City, Cedar Rapids, and West Burlington (all in Iowa). This store is now equivalent to a chocolate shop for me- it is AMAZING! I had a professional watch me run and walk (barefoot) to see how my foot struck the ground.
PLEASE check out Running Wild! http://runningwild-iowa.com/
The result was that I severely overpronate. Simply put, when I strike the ground my heels tend to roll in. This rolling in motion causes my feet and ankles to have problems stabilizing my body, and shock is not absorbed appropriately.
Okay so I overpronate, but why was that causing my knee problem? The lack of stability and inward motion of my feet was causing stress on my IT band. The IT (iliotibial) band is a thick ligament that begins around your hips and connects to the outside of your knee. I was experiencing a common running problem known as runner’s knee, or IT band syndrome.
After getting the appropriate shoes and taking about a week off, I was back to running pain free!
The shoes that I got were Brook’s Adrenaline and I absolutely loved them. I wore Brook’s for two years, and then decided to switch up my shoes and have been wearing Saucony’s Hurricane shoe ever since. I no longer have knee pain. Both the Adrenaline and Hurricane were specific to my overpronation issue. Depending on your strike, you will have a specific type of shoe that will work best for you.
The average running shoe has a lifetime of about 500 miles. If I forget to keep track of the mileage on my shoe, I just get a new pair every time I start to have minor knee pain.
Also, ONLY wear your running shoes to run! Do not wear them to walk, bike, or anything else. The wear and tear of regular activities can break down your shoes. A good pair of running shoes will cost around $100-$150, so you want to save them specifically for running.
Now lets talk socks!
I never thought I would be discussing what type of socks I prefer. Argyle? Plaid? The truth is, I don’t care what pattern or color my socks are for running as long as they are effective.
Why does it matter what kind of socks you wear for running? Cotton socks are out! Running socks differ greatly from everyday cotton socks. Most running socks will have an elastic feeling band around the sock that will allow it to fit snug around your foot. Also depending on the run, the material is different. Cotton socks do not wick away moisture like real running socks. For everyday running (no more than 10 miles) I wear Saucony socks. For longer runs and marathons I wear Injinji socks. They are toe socks, and can take some time to get use to. They are great at preventing blisters for the longer runs. Go to this link to better help you determine what socks work best for you: http://www.runnersworld.com/running-apparel/choose-right-running-socks