Shoe Casualty

You always remember your first time…in running.  The first time you broke four minutes in the mile. The first time you went sub-3:00 in the marathon. The first time you broke a school record. Well, I have done none of those so I will remember the first time I put a hole in the toe box of my shoe. Ghastly!

Yes, even the “shoe guy” gets shoe damage. I came back from a two hour run with Cedric as I continue my slow build-up to the 2016 Marine Corps Marathon. I looked down to untie my shoes and there it was. Right at the perfect spot where the edge of my big toe nail could push up into the material of my shoe and wear it away to the point of a hole. First time ever…promise.


Now this is not a shoe review. The TOPO Fli-Lyte is in my stable of shoes that I rotate through and I really like them – foot shaped toe box, lightweight, responsive midsole. What is not to like. But as I build towards my October 30th goal, I have to keep pushing myself and recover, push and recover, push and recover. Two hours was the furthest I had run in quite some time and I could tell my body was tired towards the end. Which it should be. Just over 13 miles with five months left to go, maybe my body was overextending it’s effort a bit at the end of the run and my form got sloppy. So what can this shoe, or any shoe, tell you about the way you move?


In this case instead of being relaxed as my leg was in it’s “flight” phase (“terminal swing” as noted in this graphic) of the running gait cycle, I think my foot was a bit tense as it prepared for initial contact. Therefore, my great toe was extending and pushing into the roof of the toe box. Repeated, abnormal stress to fabric will cause it to eventually fail. So that might be a sign of an abnormal gait pattern.


So use your shoes as a way to tell where you may have repeated, abnormal stress in your run. The outer edge of the heel may be excessively worn, the tread under your great toe may be really slick, or the medial border of the midsole may be overly compressed for the amount of time you have had the shoes. I tell folks that the wear pattern on shoes is like looking at the rings inside a tree trunk – the more rings there are and any abnormal patterns of those rings can tell you about the life of that tree. Shoes can really tell you alot about the life of the runner.



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