This is one of the most famous movie quotes of all time and for good reason.
Anyone who’s watched “Forrest Gump” will know that Forrest had polio when he was young and couldn’t walk all that well. He was a bit slow mentally, too, and from a young age, he was chased by kids on bicycles and pelted with rocks, which led to Jenny shouting “Run Forrest … rrrrruuuuunnnnn!” This started him on his path to “run like the wind blows” and contributed to a very successful athletic career, among other things.
Forrest would not have been able to run across the country like he did if Jenny hadn’t given him a pair of Nike Cortez running shoes as a gift. The Nike Cortez (still available today, almost 50 years after its initial release) revolutionized the running world. Actually, it was probably one of the most important shoes ever crafted. It was a comfortable shoe for running and could be worn as a casual shoe, as well. You could run a marathon in the morning and use those shoes to go dancing that night, if you dared.
So, I should get the Cortez?
Yes, but no. Since the Cortez was introduced in 1972, technology has progressed. Now, the Cortez would not feature in any road race you see today. That’s not because it’s a bad shoe, but because everything we have today is so much better.
In 1968, Bill Bowerman completed the look of the Cortez. His task was to build something comfortable and durable. When it was revealed at the 1972 Summer Olympics, the Cortez was an immediate hit. Everyone wanted them.
Why? Because it was a good shoe. It was comfortable and could last a long time (even for multiple crosses of America when attached to the feet of Forrest Gump).
But since that time, there have been a lot more demands on running shoes than just being “comfortable” and “durable.” Although these are still high on the list of running shoe specifications, they’re not the only things required. We have the following to take into account now as well:
- Weight. The lighter the shoe is, the easier you’ll run.
- Drop. This is not when you tell your beagle to drop your shoes from her mouth. No, “drop” is the difference between the height in the heel and forefoot.
- Cushioning. Like you need a good pillow to sleep well, runners need good cushioning to run well.
- Running shoes have firmness variations, and some have more cushioning than others.
- Sweat. Ever wondered why your shoes smell so bad after a couple of months of use? Sweat absorption and dispersion are vitally important in modern running shoes.
So, after taking all that into consideration, what’s the best shoe for you? Well, it’s just something that fits your feet.
See, there’s a thing in running called “pronation.” You could either overpronate or underpronate or have neutral pronation. But what does that all mean?
Have a quick look at the soles of your shoes. Specifically, look at the wear on the soles.
If your shoes wear more towards the inside, near the ball and the toe, you’re overpronating. If you’re experiencing shin splints when you run, they’re probably caused by overpronation.
The opposite of overpronation – called supination or underpronation – is when the sole wears to the outside of your shoe. This means your foot arch is high.
A foot with a neutral style absorbs the impact on the outside of the heel, then pronates slightly to the inside to absorb the shock and effectively supports the weight of your body. Your arches are perfect.
Of course, just looking at the soles of your shoes is not a definitive way to determine your pronation. A better way is to go to a specialized shoe store and let their specialists look at your running style. They will check your pronation and offer you a choice of shoe that is the best for your technique and style.
Having the correct shoe for the way you run is the most important factor when it comes to comfort and avoiding injuries.
So go out there and run for the specialists and get the right shoes for your feet. Want to run like Forrest? Get the right shoes!