The anatomy of a running shoe
Gear Review, Reads, Running, Running Reads

The Anatomy of a Running Shoe

The Anatomy of a Running Shoe:

The anatomy of a running shoe is a post I’ve wanted to write for a while.

The anatomy of a running shoe

Since I write a shoe review most weeks, it occurred to me that many people didn’t realize what the actual parts that made up a running shoe are. No shame in that; your only job is to make sure the shoe feels good when you wear it.  It is easier to describe what you like or don’t like in a shoe if you know a few basic terms.

Pictured is the New Balance 1500 (a racing flat ideal for 5ks to marathons)

Anatomy of a running shoe

The “Upper”: 

The upper part of a shoe is exactly what it sounds like: the top of the shoe.  These days, most brands use an upper made of lightweight, breathable, engineered mesh. Although some uppers are made from leather or suede too. Some shoes are even waterproof and the upper can keep water out while still keeping it breathable.

Now, most uppers are seamless, so it doesn’t rub against a wider forefront or bunion. The upper and the shoelaces help secure the foot.  The upper protects your feet and is also what helps keep dirt, rocks or debris out of a shoe.

The anatomy of a running shoe

Toe Box:

The toe box of a running shoe is generally the widest part of the shoe and where your feet and toes are located. You always want movement in the toebox and don’t want your feet to feel squished.

You should be able to wiggle your toes before and after a run comfortably. There should also be about the width of your thumbs length from your longest toe (even if your longest toe is your second or third toe). Having the extra space helps reduce the loss of toenails and keeps your feet from going numb.

Also Included in the Upper Anatomy of a Running Shoe:

Shoe Laces: Shoelaces or Velcro are what hold the top of your foot securely into place. This portion of the shoe is one of the most important for fit in the anatomy of a running shoe.

Tongue: Many people don’t realize the tongue has a purpose! It protects the top of your foot from the pressure of shoelaces but also prevents debris from getting inside.

Heel counter: The heel counter is the firm cup in the back of your shoe to secure your heel. The heel counter makes sure your foot doesn’t slide around. It’s essential always to untie your shoes so you don’t damage the heel counter. Damaging it will bend the plastic and can cause Achilles tendon issues.

Midsole:

The midsole of a running shoe is located between the outsole and the upper. The upper is attached to the midsole of the shoe. Currently, the majority of midsoles are made of a foam called EVA (called ethyl vinyl acetate). Each brand uses different cushioning or EVA that they deem “the best.”

Outsole:

The outsole is a critical component of running shoes, especially when running in inclement weather. The outside is what provides traction on the roads. In trail shoes, the outsole is often thicker to offer more traction. Each brand has different traction in grooves to protect the feet.

Most road shoes are made from blown rubber, which is softer and more flexible. A trail shoe is usually more rigid and is often made of carbon rubber to keep it stiff.

Anatomy of a running shoe

Medial Post:

Not every shoe has a medial post or stability piece to it. Many do, but not all. Most running shoes fall into one of the following combinations: motion control, neutral shoes, or stability shoes. Motion control shoes are designed with the most support, where neutral have zero support. (They can have cushion, but keep in mind support does equal cushion).Stability helps keep a collapsed arch propped in or someone who pronates back into neutral.

The medial post is one of the most important components to determining if a shoe will work for you. If you need a lot of stability and the shoe is neutral, chances are it won’t work. Not everyone needs medial support and using a shoe that has support when you don’t need it can lead to other issues. Most stability components of a shoe are made out of a dual-density combination of TPU (thermoplastic urethane) and EVA.

Not all stability pieces are the same. Some shoes provide minor stability where some is much more corrective. Each brand and each shoe within a brand are different.

The Shank:

Many people don’t even realize a running shoe “shank” exists. The shank is what controls the flexion and torsion of a shoe. It helps the bend naturally and helps with a smooth transition from heel to toe.  The stiffer the shank, the less the shoe will flex.

Heel Drop:

One of the most common questions in the running world, is what a shoe heel to toe drop? I wrote a newsletter on it a few months ago. In short, the heel to toe drop is the height of the heel minus the height of the forefront (in millimeters). For example, a zero drop shoe (like the brand Altra) has the same height and cushion in the heel as the forefront. Most traditional shoes have between 10-12 mm.

Thicker heels will usually cause your heel to drop and hit the ground first, whereas a thinner heel will be easier to run more on your forefront. There is no right or wrong heel drop in the anatomy of a running shoe but it takes trial and error to figure out what works best for you.

Anatomy of a running shoe

Last:

When it comes to last, not every brand is the same. The last of the shoe is essentially the shape of the shoe. Most running shoe lasts curved, but shoe lasts can be curved, semi-curved, or straight. If you flip over and look at your Brooks shoe, you can see it curves in the front, pinches in the middle, and curves out in the back. Most traditional running shoes are semi-curved. Finding a last that matches the shape of your foot is just as important as finding a shoe that matches your needs structurally. In the anatomy of a running shoe, the last is what will help find the correct fit.

Anatomy of a running shoe

Why is the Anatomy of a Running Shoe Important for Runners?

Knowing the anatomy of a running shoe because you can find the shoe that works for you both structural and by shape. At the end of the day, you want to find the shoe you are most comfortable in.

Finally, have you subscribed to the LOLZletter? It’s a free newsletter that comes out each Monday. In the newsletter, I share running industry trends and things relevant to the sport.

Questions for you:

What is your favorite shoe? Why? 

Were you familiar with the anatomy of a running shoe?

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under armour copper mountain race me running
Personal, Reads

29 Years Old

Today is my 29th birthday.

For some reason, I always imagined at age 29; I would look and feel older.

Maybe like an adult? It hasn’t come (yet). Anyway, looking back at age 28, I had a great year. I’ve been an “adult” for a decade now.

What Did I Do During Year 28?

Last year, I started age 28 with my first “real” trail race. I ran the Copper Mountain 25k, and it was one of the best running memories I’ve had.

under armour copper mountain race me running

It’s hard to believe that was a year ago now!

under armour copper mountain race me running

Last summer, I did a lot of traveling up and down the East Coast. We visited family, I saw friends from college, and I just had a good summer. In August, I ran/hikes my second trail race in Killington, VT. To me, it was more challenging than the race in Colorado because the terrain was much more technical. Then in the fall, I changed gears entirely and trained for the NYCM. I didn’t think I would do another marathon, but when the opportunity to run in the “sub-elite” corral presented itself, I couldn’t say no. I’m glad I did, and it was one of the best running experiences I’ve had.

New York City Marathon me running

Since the NYCM, running hasn’t quite come into place. I’ve trained, but I haven’t had any “spectacular” or amazing races. I’ve had a lot of great and fun races, but I’m well off PRs. Right now, I’m content with that.

In January, my husband and took a trip out to California. We drove from San Diego to San Francisco and just explored. We had no agenda (as most of our vacations are).

Hiking anderson park santa clara county

Marin Headlands San Francisco

The highlight of the Spring was adopting my two cats: Frick and Frack. I always had cats growing up, and I’ve wanted them for years, but our landlords or landladies always said no.

Finally, after proving we were good renters, they agreed. We found these two cats at the local shelter, and when I found out they had been there for five years (YES 5), I knew I wanted them. They were shy at first but have come out of their shell.

View this post on Instagram

Personality pic #noisycat #confusedcat

A post shared by Frick and Frack Sick (@frickandfracksick) on

The last few months have been quiet as far as personal and running life goes. I’m training for the Big Cottonwood Marathon in early September.  Running another downhill marathon terrifies me because the last one wasn’t my favorite race ever — cheers to doing things outside of your comfort zone.

Fulfilling my other hobby, I also went to over 50 New Jersey diners last year and have now been to 253. I don’t know if I’ll make it to 300 (if we move).  When I started this journey 5 years ago, I never imagined going to 250 diners. But as they motivational quotes say: you never know until you try! Bridge-Way Diner Old Bridge NJ

Anyway, thank you age 28 for the memories and to family and friends for supporting me!


This year, I wanted to do something and different for my birthday, so on July 20th, I’m running the Teterboro 5k to Homes for Our Heroes: a mission to build safe, affordable housing for military and military families.

This includes Veterans who have nowhere to live as well as military families in the NJ area.

I appreciate anyone willing to donate and support this cause with me.

My goal is to reach $500 and any amount matters. Here is the link if you are interested.


Questions for you:

Tell me about a charity you support.

What did you do for your birthday? 

 

 

How to Bounce Back from a Bad Race
Reads, Running, Running Reads, Training

How to Bounce Back from a Bad Race

The week before last I had a bad running race at the Phillies 5k. While yes, you can argue it was windy, my disappointing race wasn’t because of that.  Honestly, it wasn’t my day and these things happen.

While it stinks, I race so frequently there is no point to let one bad race ruin my day. When you’re an experienced runner you’ll learn that every race is a learning experience: the good and bad.  In fact, you’ll probably learn more from a frustrating race experience.

How to Bounce Back from a Bad Race

So How Can You Bounce Back from a Bad Race? 

Like the movie, Frozen, let it go…

Every athlete has both good days and bad days.

Find the Positives:

Every running race has a silver lining. When I  crossed the finish line at the Phillies 5k, the first thing I thought was: Wow I felt awful. Then I quickly remembered I’m injury-free.  The entire race was miserable, my mental spot was not great, but I finished healthy.

After cooling down, I caught up with one of my closest friends and still hung out. I saw many locals and chatted for a while. They asked how the race went, and I said: “awful it wasn’t my day for running, but it’s just running”.

Running isn’t my job; it’s a hobby.  If a hobby stresses you out or causes you misery, it’s time to find a new one. Sure, I won’t always “love running” but instead of dwelling on a bad race, look for the good.

It’s important to look at the silver line and positives of your running race:

Did you finish healthy and injury free?  Could you smile afterward and have a good day? 

Reflect so you can “Get Over” your Bad Running Race:

Immediately after the 5k, I chalked it up to being “a bad race”.

Now that I’ve sat back, reflected and recovered from a bad race, I know there are plenty of reasons the 5k was not a great race for me. You’ll never move on and get over your bad running race if you dwell on it.

My body was still tired from the weekend prior. I knew going into the race my body didn’t feel good. I haven’t eaten or slept well, and I’ve increased speed training and racing. Plus, I ran a half marathon the weekend prior. I’ve done it a dozen times, but I’ve always been more fit.

None are excuses but they all contribute to why my race didn’t go well.  Reflecting back and having a few answers is better than, “it just didn’t.”

It gives you ways and reasons to improve.  You can make adjustments to your training, nutrition, or sleep patterns.

With distance running, there is always another race. There are always more long runs. Marathon training is a long distance to cover and it’s important to also look back at training.

Most Importantly: Recover and Set New Goals:

After running a bad race, it’s important to take time to recover.  Even though the race didn’t go well, don’t go crazy. Take time to recover and relax.

Then set your sights on running a PR, new time goal, or maybe a new event altogether.  Maybe you need a change in training plans, training cycles or a new running coach.

Maybe a marathon burned you out…

Or maybe you want to run longer races…

Find something to get excited and refocused about! 

Remember there are many race days to come. For me personally, I have run many races over the next two months. While I’m not looking for magical redemption, I’m looking forward to chipping away my time and getting back into better fitness.

Finally, have you subscribed to the LOLZletter? It’s a free newsletter that comes out each Monday. In the newsletter, I share running industry trends and things relevant to the sport. 

Questions for you:

How do you get over a bad race? Do you bounce back quickly? 

What has been your least enjoyable race?

How to Run with your Significant Other
Reads, Running, Running Reads

How to Run with your Significant Other

First, happy Valentines Day! Are you celebrating with a run with your spouse?

As most people know, my husband and I met through running. It’s a hobby we both share. You read the full story here. We both ran long before we knew each other. We aren’t always running together, and there are months we don’t run at all together, but there are also months we run many easy runs.

He is a faster runner, and there are very few periods that we run the same pace, but it is enjoyable to share that time with him. Running allows us to share uninterrupted time together. During the day, it’s hard to find these uninterrupted moments.

When we first met, we went for a runs together. We weren’t running as boyfriend and girlfriend, but just two people that liked to run. Several months later, I found him saying: “I’ll run with my girlfriend”, okay I guess we are dating now.

How to Run with your Significant Other

Many readers have asked: How do you run with your significant other? Or Could you share some tips to make running with my spouse more enjoyable?

Keep in mind, running with a spouse is not always sunshine and butterflies. One of you will always be the slower runner (that’s me!).

I can remember a significant moment in our running relationship. It was our first long run together. I’m a very chatty runner and if you’ve run with me (or even raced), you know I’m yapping all the way. My husband, however, is much quieter when he runs. This took us a few runs to figure out.

We started off doing a 15 mile run in San Antonio, Texas (near where we lived). All of a sudden he was running a few steps in front of me and silent. I began getting irrationally upset. Why were even running together? It was just silence. I continued to get more and more upset until finally I snapped and said:

“I’m tired of this dude running. Men just run in a single file straight line don’t talk much. Women don’t do that”.

(Yes, I called it dude running because it’s exactly how men run together. Silent, in a single line, and then they say it’s quality bonding time).

At the time, I didn’t know his life and running habits, and he didn’t fully know mine. Since then, we’ve had no more escalated running arguments, but my point is: it’s important to know any trainer partners habits.  He wasn’t angry, mad, or sad, that’s just how he ran.

So How do We Run Together?

The Short Answer:

We both put on running shoes and start running.

The Long Answer:

Easy Runs:

More often than not, we run easier mileage together. One of you will always be the slower runner and it’s important to set ground rules and meet in the middle. Like running in a group, it’s important to set ground rules with your running partner. I’ll speed up my pace 10-15 seconds per mile, and he slows down a bit. We agree to try and meet halfway.  That being said, my husband uses a watch even less than I do so we aren’t that numbers-oriented about paces.

Workouts:

My husband and I don’t do hard efforts together because our workout paces are not the same. He is a faster runner and also has different goals. (I like 5k-13.1 while he likes 5k-10k). He also likes trail running where I prefer long distance and the roads. We are usually on different training plans or training and racing for something else.

Occasionally he will do a tempo run with me, but that is the extent of workouts together.  Has he ever done a 400, mile, or hard track workout with me?  Absolutely not.  I know I go from nice to mean in 10 seconds, and so does he.

Racing:

We both like going to races. This year, my goal for racing a la Des Linden is “just show up.”   The fast, the slow, the good, and the bad, I want to be there.  Races for me, are always better workouts than workouts alone.

For us, going to races means we get to spend quality time together as well. We sign up for races together but the critical part here is we don’t race together.

We will warm up and cool down together, but when the clock goes off, we race to our own standards and feeling. The majority of the time, we do not stay together. We both still love each other and love running. Post run or race, we connect back and cool down.

Racing for you is important because if one person is faster, it will create problems to stay on the course together. Part of being with a fellow runner is that you can’t expect to stay together or feel the same every race. It can still be a run date if you aren’t racing together.

Does it stink to be dropped by your husband or a training partner during a race?

Of course, but that is the nature of the sport. We support each other, good or bad race.  We are still husband and wife when we cross the finish line.

This is important for any group running a race together. Someone will feel better, and someone will feel worse. Let them go and don’t be offended. You would want them to let you go too, and you’re still friends (or married at the finish line).

Don’t Be a Sore Winner or Loser.

There is no point to “racing” your spouse or significant other.  I remember one of my husband’s best races in 2017, the Double Bridges 15k. He ran a good amount with me and dropped me like I was standing still. I was so happy for him because he had no business lollygagging with me.  We both crossed the finish, and we were still married.

Running with a significant other can be a fun and pleasant experience. I know my husband and I are fortunate we get to share that.

Finally, don’t force or guilt them into running with you. Don’t take anything personally; sometimes your spouse doesn’t want to run.  You can spend time other ways. Some days I just want my me time and so does he.  That’s okay too!

Finally, have you subscribed to the LOLZletter? It’s a free newsletter that comes out each Monday. In the newsletter, I share running industry trends and things relevant to the sport. 

Questions for you:

Do you run with your significant other?

How are you spending Valentine’s Day? 

Reads

2018 in Blogging

Around the end of the year, I like to reflect on both running and blogging. Typically around this time, I wonder if I want to continue my blog. Is it worth it to renew the $300 platform?

As it’s trended the last few years, blogging is dying.  Podcasts, Instagram, and other social media is taking over.  No one has “time” to read anymore. Not that I need anyone to read my blog.  I don’t have a coaching service or a product to sell, it’s just my life. The way the blog stays afloat is by the occasional sponsored posts as well as the sidebar ads.  To keep the blog running, it does cost about $300 a year.

blogging stats 2018

As you can see from the chart, my blog grew when I started in mid-2010, and then around 2015 began to fade.  Most people refer to quick and easy information now, and Instagram seems to be the platform of choice for race recaps, training, and whatever else. I don’t foresee myself writing long captions on instagram anytime soon.  A picture tells 1000 words, and I like to keep it that way.

I’m not sad or being negative; those are just the facts of blogging and my personal blog.  For me, the days of 1000 views regularly are gone, and that is okay.

So back to Blogging in 2018:

Most viewed posts

Tips for Morning Workouts

Blogging is Dying.

New York City Marathon Race Recap (3:07.15)

I Have a Fall Goal Race

Phoenix Half Marathon (1:22.03)

20 Running Podcasts to Keep You Entertained

What Will Happen in 2019?

I renewed my blog, so, for now, I’ll continue it.  I can’t say for 100% certainty that I see myself blogging through the entire year. I’ve said that every year, but truthfully I never know. Right now, I plan to continue blogging.  Maybe less, or maybe trying to find more sponsored posts to keep it worthwhile to keep going. I’ve thought about just going to newsletter format as well. A newsletter is cheaper and I could still have a record of race recaps and information, I could refer too. still something I’m very much contemplating but it would be a big change and a lot of work to get there.

In short 2018 didn’t change a lot. Blogging is dying. Instagram and podcasts are growing So I guess I don’t know what will happen in 2019.  Something completely new and different could happen in social media too.

Questions for you:

Bloggers and Readers, I would love to hear your thoughts on blogging, social media, and changes.