Natural running continues : A shiny new pair of ASICS Gel Excel 33 for me!
Who doesn’t love a new pair of running shoes? The shine, that new-shoe smell, bright white foam…
Ok, ok, I’m getting carried away…
As I said in my previous post I have been looking into natural running. Not barefoot running – that is definitely a step too far for me – but natural running. Natural running shoes have a low heel drop, only about 5mm from heel to toe, which encourages mid-foot and forefoot running. This is a lot less than regular trainers which have around 10mm or more drop. They are also ‘stripped’ back and feature less motion control features, thereby not impeding the body’s natural biomechanics.
Given my ASICS Gel Kinsei were well beyond their use-by date I took the opportunity to get myself some new running shoes. Well, that and I just wanted a new shiny pair of trainers! So why after years of running in ‘normal’ trainers have I opted for a completely different type of shoe? 4 reasons:
- I have a neutral gait – Meaning I don’t over-pronate or supinate, so shoes with masses of cushioning in the heel don’t provide me with extra protection, just extra weight.
- Natural running shoes have a low heel drop – A flatter shoe encourages mid-foot and forefoot running, which is my natural gait. Warning – If you over-pronate then you should approach natural or minimal shoes with extreme caution. They are not designed with motion control or other systems to control over-pronation, so your risk of lower limb injury would be much higher in this sort of shoe.
- I am in the recovery phase of plantar fasciitis – This sounds counter-intuitive, however my theory is that my current mileage is very low, making this a perfect time to get into a new ‘genre’ of trainers because of the need to always transition slowly when moving from ‘regular’ trainers to ‘natural’ trainers. Please note that if you are like me and have tight calf muscles then natural shoes will put more strain on them due to the flatness of the shoe. Pay special attention to this and to your static stretching routine so you don’t strain your calves or encourage a spell of plantar fasciitis
- Additional foot strength – Plantar fasciitis is often caused or exacerbated by weak musculature of the foot and lower limbs. Shoes designed for natural running encourage your feet and lower limbs to get stronger because of the minimal approach to motion control. My theory is that in the long run if I have stronger feet and lower limbs I will be better able to keep myself free from plantar fasciitis. But it is a long road…
Anyone reading this and thinking along similar lines, I stress again the importance of transitioning slowly. Natural or minimal running shoes are very different from regular running shoes and you will take time to adjust. From my research I have found that all manufacturers of natural or minimal running shoes have noted to add these shoes into a rotation, and keep your regular runners for long distances. This will assist with the transition without needing to drastically cut your mileage and let you get used to the new shoe. I suggest you read this great article from Competitor.com – Safely Transitioning To A Minimalist Running Shoe – Competitor.com.
So why did I go for the ASICS Gel Excel 33?
Simple really, I tried on quite a number of shoes in the ‘natural running’ style – Newton, Mizuno, Adidas, Nike – but I guess I found the ASICS fit and feel to be what I am most used to and the most comfortable for me. I got my shoes from Sweatshop because they tend to have staff who are runners themselves, as well as the massive benefit of being able to try the shoes out by running on a treadmill in store while the assistant watches you for gait or pronation issues. In the UK another good store Runners Need also have treadmills so you can try-before-you-buy.
A little advice/rant here – apologies in advance – while you will pay more for shoes from the store instead of the internet, go to a dedicated running store where the staff are knowledgeable and you can try the shoes out on a treadmill. Walking around a shop floor for a few minutes is not going to give you an idea of what the shoes feel like when running! And be a nice person, if your assistance has given you good service, useful advice and the benefit of running on a treadmill, buy the shoes from them. Don’t go home and buy the same shoes on the internet. If everyone does that, the additional service which is so important to us all will just disappear. I only ever buy shoes from the internet when replacing shoes I already have and trust, because nothing compares being able to try them on and crucially, try them out, while in the shop.
For me, it’s time to start running again as my plantar fasciitis recedes. I will update you here after I have put some miles in my new ASICS Gel Excel 33 and provide a review. In the meantime, safe running everyone!
Get Going, Get Running
Posted on May 24, 2013, in Blog, Gear, Natural Running, Running Shoes and tagged asics gel excel 33, natural running, running shoes. Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Natural running continues : A shiny new pair of ASICS Gel Excel 33 for me!.