Helen Twose 's Opinion

Personal finance and KiwiSaver columnist at the NZ Herald

Jog On: Getting off on the right foot

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Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

If I were a car I'd be listed as a low mileage, classic early 70s model, showing some signs of rust, current WoF and rego, with one careful lady owner.

Either through good luck or good management I've never had any major injury breakdowns and I'd like to keep it that way.

Good shoes are an important part of keeping me happily running so I've enlisted the help of sports podiatrist Rob Dallimore. Dallimore has competed in triathlons since his teens, including completing the Ironman distance multiple times, so has about a squillion million kilometres of running on the clock too.

"Most of the injuries I see are from people who have worn shoes for too long, so the shoe has worn out, or have become really good friends with a brand of shoes or a model of shoes and continued with it year-in-year-out without considering they have changed over that time."

Dallimore says it is important to review running style and shoe choices whenever there have been any significant changes.

Pregnancy is an obvious one for me, with hormones causing ligaments to temporarily soften, but stepping up mileage or losing just 5kg can have an effect on running style.

"The reality is that as soon as you start running you expose yourself to more force than you would normally. There is a very high chance you will develop some sort of injury but if you're on to it and you know what the warning signs are then you can avoid it."

First he takes a good look at my shoes: the Adidas Salvation. I've had them for a little over three years but they haven't been used much in that time. The wear pattern on the sole is even, neither showing excessive wear on the inner nor outer edges.

"Whoever prescribed you this shoe did a very good job," he says.

Yes, it's no accident I am in this pair of shoes. They were in fact picked for me at one of the specialist running shoe stores that include Shoe Science, Shoe Clinic and Smiths Sports Shoes after I'd had my running style analysed.

Even though my shoes haven't been worn much, Dallimore says a shoe has a finite life span. After two to three years the material begins to degrade, particularly if you've done a lot of running in the winter, he says.

"You draw a lot of moisture into the sole and they start losing a bit of life."

Dallimore recommends regularly checking your shoes for signs of wear. Pop them up on the kitchen bench see that they are sitting up at 90 degrees and not slopping to one side. Also see that the uppers aren't coming apart, particularly around the toe and heel areas.

After the shoe check it's time to look at my feet - both with and without my running shoes on. This involves standing still, on one leg and flexing my feet before sending me for a walk down the hallway and a jog on a treadmill.

He was able to pick up that I had done gymnastics as a kid, which gave my brain the ability to quickly receive and respond to messages from the foot due to a history of doing off-balance exercises. Swimming as a child had also given me good ankle flexibility. In theory I should have a powerful swim kick.

The upshot was my general biomechanics were "very, very good" and the shoes I was in were still working well.

Anyway, somewhere in my conversation I must have gotten all bedazzled by the collection of Ironman medals hanging by Dallimore's desk and before I knew it I was talking about running a half marathon. That is, ahem, about 200 per cent further than I run on a good day at the moment.

Dallimore says a change in focus means it is a good opportunity to also change shoes. If I didn't have aspirations to run the longer distance the Adidas shoes could have done for a bit longer.

He suggests I try a pair of Saucony Hurricanes, which will take me through to a half marathon, with my Adidas shoes held in reserve as wet weather shoes or for shorter runs.

When I get my new shoes, Dallimore says I need to spend a week or so walking around in them rather than blasting straight out for a run. This allows the forefoot of the shoe to soften up.

He also recommends getting off concrete footpaths and on to a softer surface once you're running 35 to 40 minutes more than three times a week. This can be anything from trails, hard-packed sand on the beach, tarseal roads or even the grass verge beside the footpath.

So what are top of Dallimore's list of shoe crimes? Not Crocs, but over-wearing shoes and being too ambitious with shoe choice. "For the person that is new to running they need to be in the best shoe for that person, not the best shoe on the shelf."

In other news:

* Motivational music could speed recovery.

Events:

* Claiming to be New Zealand's most scenic athletic event the Buller Gorge Marathon runs through the West Coast gorge to finish at Westport. Saturday, February 11.

* Head to Auckland's North Shore for race two of the Albany Lakes Summer Series 10km, 5km and kids 2km dash running events. Sunday, February 12.

Twitter: @Jog_On_NZ

Helen Twose

Personal finance and KiwiSaver columnist at the NZ Herald

Helen Twose is a freelance business journalist who writes regularly about KiwiSaver and entrepreneurial companies. She has written for the Business Herald since 2006, covering the telecommunications sector, but has more recently focused on personal finance and profiling successful businesses.

Read more by Helen Twose

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