Running Comfort: Fact or Fiction?

by Nicholas “Tri-Clyde” Sikes Running ComfortFinding comfort when running and riding my bike has been a long journey—a journey that isn’t complete and where I learn something new every time I am out.

Reevaluating What Makes a Running Shoe "Comfortable"

My journey started by buying the most expensive, most cushiony shoes I could find in an effort to “like” running. I started with New Balance after being “fitted” at a reputable running store. I spent the next three years buying the same model since I assumed I was in the right shoe. Still, I hated running, not because of the hard work, but because my ankles and hips hurt after running anything longer than a mile. I endeavored to learn how to like running. After digging into articles on the mechanics of running, I decided to dramatically change my running gait. I went from the most cushioned shoes on the market to the exact opposite: Vibram 5-fingers. Running comfort can be found in the right pair of shoesI am not advocating that dramatic a change, but am advising a course of action that includes proper gait analysis and run coaching. The “Guru of Shoe” wrote a great article about finding the right shoe for you. While many stores put larger runners in a stability shoe automatically, there may not be real justification for it beyond laziness of the salesperson. After learning how to eliminate the horrendous heel landing I started running with, I have morphed over into using a zero-drop shoe made by Altra. The Instinct has been a great shoe for me and I am grateful that Bill took the time to help me find the right shoe for me.

More Considerations for Running Comfort

While the right shoe is a great start to finding running comfort, there are many other tips I have learned over the last few years. Good socks promote running comfort by preventing blistersThe next most important tip after shoes is socks since they are the interface between skin and shoe. I have used wool socks for years in my work boots, but when running I always used the cheap ankle socks from Walmart. Until I was given a pair of wool running socks, I never considered the impact my socks have on my training and racing enjoyment. I had always ended a triathlon with blisters on my feet, but since I have changed to moisture-wicking socks, I haven’t had a blister yet! Zoot makes some great options and, unless you run every day, an investment in just three pairs should help significantly reduce foot discomfort. In last month's article I spent some time talking about chafing while on the bike. The same principle applies to running, and I use TRISLIDE anywhere skin can rub against skin. Men don’t normally think about nipple protection before their first long run. I can attest that the agony coming from chafed or bloody nipples can be incredible as you cross the finish line! All of the blogs I read before my first triathlon talked about ensuring shirts are loose enough to get on while you are wet, but the issue comes from the looseness rubbing nipples with every step. Band-aids are a great option if not running after a swim, or if you are able to quickly apply them in transition.

The Journey Continues

While my journey to loving running is still in progress, it has become a much more enjoyable endeavor in the last two years. The word "comfort" does not need to be only used in reference to food such as mashed potatoes and chicken soup, but should have a place in your athletic endeavors. Bill at Kyle's Bikes will get you in the right shoeTake the time to jump up on the treadmill at the store and try out five or six different shoes. Listen to Bill’s advice since he has many years of experience and has a passion to spend the time required to ensure customers are happy with their shoes. (He doesn’t just recommend shoes he gets the most commission on or that are the prettiest color.) Most importantly, listen to your body. If you finish a run in agony then there is likely something wrong. Let us know what is going on and we can help recommend a course of action. Running comfort can be a fact, but only if you utilize the resources available to you. Until next month, Nicholas “Tri-Clyde” Sikes
2013-10-04 18:32:04
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Jody Knight
I think I will be checking this blog regularly. It is nice to know that not loving the run shouldn't be a reason not to run. I have also been fitted by Bill and can attest to the difference that has made. I don't love running but have decided for 2014 to do a half-marathon. I also plan to do two sprint tris and am hoping the experience and training for the half marathon will help me get better at the run.
Being a "clyde" guy myself, that's a good read. I may have to see the Guru soon. Thanks.
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