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The Anatomy of a Running Shoe

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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Pennypacker Park Cross Country Open 5k (21:00)

Pennypacker Park Cross Country Open 5k (21:00)

Pennypacker Park Cross Country Open 5k Recap (21:00)

I wanted to run the Pennypacker Park Cross Country 5k open for a while. Unfortunately, due to work, it’s usually not a race I can make work with my schedule.

This year, it was a couple of hours earlier, but to get my run in as well as the race, I ended up running 7 miles beforehand and then used the last 5k as a hard effort and fast finish. I wasn’t worried about time since it was a cross country race. The course itself was muddy but relatively flat. It’s a fun course that Haddonfield High School and most of South Jersey uses.

Pennypacker Park

I got to the Pennypacker Park Cross Country 5k around 7:30, started my run and got to the start around 8:55. If you’ve never run a cross country race, they typically start in “boxes,” and it funnels down into a narrow path. That’s exactly what we did. I chatted with a few people and then we were off. I wasn’t sure how my legs would feel. During the start, I got boxed in and got flashes of college racing. It does make me miss cross country!

We headed down Pennypacker Park and towards the first mile. I’ve run hundreds of miles in Pennypacker Park so I’m relatively familiar with the terrain and course.

Around mile 1, I passed another female. I hit the first mile in 6:40, which I was happy with. I had no idea of my place. We ran down a hill to the lower part of Pennypacker Park. It was slightly flooded but nothing unmanageable. It was narrow and hard to pass anyone. I felt better than I thought and caught a couple of men.

I hit the mile 2 of the Pennypacker Park Cross Country 5k in 6:50 and was pleasantly surprised. I kept plugging along and found myself feeling better than anticipated.

The third mile of the Pennypacker Park Cross Country 5k and Pennypacker course wraps around the finish and heads back. It’s hard to see the finish line and know your race is only 2/3rd done. In fact, as I got to mile 2.5, I saw plenty of people were already done!

I kept plugging along during the third mile and went around the fields. At the end, it was a mad dash between a friend and myself and we crossed the finish of the Pennypacker Park Cross Country 5k in 21 minutes exactly. I was happy for a solid hard effort at the end of 10 miles.

Pennypacker Park Cross Country 5k Thoughts:

I’m happy with my efforts. While it’s nowhere near a PR on a cross country course, it’s fun to race that. I do hope to run the Club Nationals in Lehigh in December. I’m glad I was able to run the Pennypacker Park Cross Country 5k and it’s a nice race if you’ve never run cross country or just want too.

Questions for you:

Have you run a cross country race?

What’s a race you’ve wanted to do before? 

 

New Balance Fuelcell Echo Shoe Review

New Balance Fuelcell Echo Shoe Review

New Balance Fuelcell Echo Shoe Review

So far, New Balance has created a few shoes in their “Fuelcell line.” The New Balance Fuelcell Rebel (I most likely will run New York City Marathon in), the New Balance 5280 (the carbon plated 1m-5k shoe), The Balance Fuelcell Propel (which I have yet to try) and the New Balance Fuelcell Echo.

I initially thought the New Balance Fuelcell Echo would be my marathon shoe, but I think (for me), the New Balance Fuelcell Rebel will be a bit better.In general, the New Balance Fuelcell collection and technology is designed to be fast.

New Balance Fuelcell Echo Quick Facts:

Weight: 8.3 oz

Heel to Toe Drop: 6 mm

New Balance Fuelcell Echo Shoe Review

New Balance Fuelcell Echo Fit:

The New Balance Fuelcell Echo fits almost exactly like a sock. I haven’t had a shoe fit so well and be comfortable from putting it on in a while.

The New Balance Fuelcell Echo uses an engineered knit upper, which provides structure but breathes well. I’ve run a couple of times in hot and humid conditions and the New Balance Fuelcell Echo breathed throughout the run.

The heel of the New Balance Fuelcell Echo has a TPU heel counter, which makes or a secure fit. Many brands, including the Brooks Levitate 2, have tried (and failed) to use a higher heel counter. The New Balance Fuelcell Echo doesn’t irritate the heel of the shoe and fits well.

New Balance Fuelcell Echo Shoe Review

I typically wear between a women’s size 10-11 wide and the 10.5 fits well. 

New Balance Fuelcell Echo Shoe Review

New Balance Fuelcell Echo Ride:

All of the New Balance Fuelcell shoes are designed with speed and performance in mind. They are all designed to be faster shoes. Where does the New Balance Fuelcell Echo fit? The New Balance Fuelcell Echo is a good road and an everyday trainer. While you can race or run faster, it’s more designed for the bulk of your mileage.

New Balance’s vision with the New Balance Fuelcell Echo is the shoe you can run in as well as casually wear around. I tend to agree that it’s one of the few trainers I like for both running and casually living life.

Like the New Balance Fuelcell Rebel, the Fuelcell Echo has a full-length fuel cell midsole. That means it has a high energy return.

Finally, one thing I appreciate in the New Balance Fuelcell Echo is the traction and grip. The entire outside is crafted with “Ndurance,” which is a rubber that is both light but also durable. The New Balance Fuelcell Echo isn’t a shoe I would take on trails, but it is great for inclement weather.

New Balance Fuelcell Echo Shoe Review

New Balance Fuelcell Echo Conclusion:

The New Balance Fuelcell Echo surprised me. I appreciate the cushion of the Fuelcell Echo but also that it can be worn more as a lifestyle shoe.

Current Rotation:

Easy/Daily Runs: Hoka Bondi 6,  Brooks Ghost 12

Speed Work: New Balance FuelCell RebelReebok Float Ride Run fast ProHoka RinconNike Pegasus Turbo 2

Long Runs: New Balance FuelCell RebelMizuno R2Hoka Cavu 2

Races: New Balance Fuelcell 5280Nike Next%,  Reebok Run fast Pro, 

You Can See All Current Shoe Reviews Here.

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 a shoe you wear casually? 

What is your favorite racing shoe? 

 

New Balance Fuelcell 5280 Shoe Review

New Balance Fuelcell 5280 Shoe Review

New Balance Fuelcell 5280 Shoe Review:

Quick Facts:
Weight: 5.2 oz

New Balance Fuelcell 5280 Shoe Review

Many brands are coming out with the full carbon length shoe. The New Balance Fuelcell 5280 is the short distance answer from New Balance. It’s not meant for 10ks, half-marathons, and marathons. It’s intended for a short race. At the 5th Avenue Mile, was when people took note of the New Balance Fuelcell 5280. Most, if not all, New Balance sponsored athletes were wearing the New Balance Fuelcell 5820. Jenny Simpson won wearing the shoe.

So why 5280? There are 5280 feet in a road mile.

New Balance Fuelcell 5280 Shoe Review

The New Balance Fuellcell 5280 Upper:

Many New Balance models are now using a brand new mesh upper, similar to the Nike Flyknit material. It’s a close knit, breathable material. It fits tight and the laces are short.

One thing I don’t love about the New Balance Fuelcell 5280 is how difficult it is to put the New Balance Fuelcell 5280 on. Any racing flat is challenging to put on, but with one seem, the New Balance Fuelcell 5280 is challenging. While trying it on for the first time, I was worried I would rip the shoe. That being said, once they are on, they fit well. I typically wear between a size 10-11 wide. The men’s size 9 (women’s 10.5) of the New Balance 5280 fits well.

New Balance Fuelcell 5280 Shoe Review

The New Balance Fuelcell 5280 Ride:

The New Balance Fuelcell 5280 is best for short races. I haven’t run any road miles, but I have raced a few 5ks and felt fast every time. With the carbon fiber plate, the 5280 propels forward. It feels like a true racing flat or even track spike with a carbon plate. Now if only it was durable enough for longer than a 5k.

New Balance Fuelcell 5280 Shoe Review

There are a few things with the New Balance Fuelcell 5280:

With the design of the underfoot, you land more on your toes. It feels more like a spike, designed to put you on your toes. If this isn’t how you run, you will be sore.  You will heavily stress your metatarsals so it’s important to work into the shoe. The traction and bottom of the New Balance Fuelcell 5280 is distinct. It has rubber, raised triangles like a spike.

With the carbon plate, the New Balance Fuelcell 5280 also uses the fuelcell technology (like the Fuel Cell rebel).

Now on to the actual ride of the New Balance Fuelcell 5280. What makes it great? The New Balance Fuelcell 5280 is pure minimalist. The Fuelcell propels With the Hoka Carbon Rocket is designed for ultras, the Nike Vaporfly designed for marathons, the New Balance Fuelcell 5280 is a fast, minimalist shoe.

Run for the toilets onancock breaking tape

New Balance Fuelcell 5280 Conclusion:

The New Balance Fuelcell 5280 has become my favorite short-distance running shoes. I’m hoping more brands will make a fast carbon fiber plate shoe designed for shorter races like the 5k or even half marathon.

Current Rotation:

Easy/Daily Runs: Hoka Bondi 6,  Brooks Ghost 12

Speed Work: New Balance FuelCell RebelReebok Float Ride Run fast ProHoka RinconNike Pegasus Turbo 2

Long Runs: New Balance FuelCell RebelMizuno R2Hoka Cavu 2

Races: New Balance Fuelcell 5280, Nike Next%,  Reebok Run fast Pro, 

You Can See All Current Shoe Reviews Here.

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 racing shoe?

What is your current favorite shoe? 

Brooks Ghost 12 Shoe Review

Brooks Ghost 12 Shoe Review

The Brooks Ghost 12 is one of Brooks staple shoes. It’s probably the most sold shoe in the running industry. The release date of the Ghost 12 was July 1st but due to the Brooks distribution center moving and their ongoing shipping issues, it was delayed. It seems to be stocked, for now.  I’ve reviewed the Ghost 9, 1o, 11, and here we are at 12.

This year the Brooks Ghost 12 has gone up $10 and now retails at $130. It’s not my favorite thing to tell people but not the most expensive running shoe out there. Both the men’s and women’s Ghost 12 come in a multitude of colors.

Brooks Ghost 12 shoe review

Fit:

The Brooks Ghost 12 comes in a variety of colors. I like white shoes so when the melts collection came out, I knew that was the shoe I wanted. The Ghost has one of the best fits in the industry. The other plus about the Ghost 12 is it comes in wides, double wide, and narrow. (Also known as 2E).

The Ghost 12 has a narrow heel but wider toe box to allow feet to splay. I’ve consistently been in a women’s 10.5, and that seems to still work in the 12.

The Brooks Ghost shoe design is meant to “disappear on your foot”, like a Ghost. The 11 was slightly more narrow and the 12, while wider than the 11, still fits similar to the 11.

The upper of Ghost 12 is seamless with minimal stitching. Brooks uses 3D Printed overlays on the mesh to help bring down the weight and maintain the shape and structure of the shoe.

If you have a wider forefront or bunions, you won’t have much irritation. The most significant update in the Ghost is in the upper. It’s all aesthetic, so it will just look slightly different.

Brooks Ghost 12 Shoe Review

Ride:

The Brooks Ghost performs similar to previous models.  The Ghost 12 is one of the most standard running trainers out there. It’s known to roll forward to you feel as though you’re being propelled through your run. The heel is soft with a more responsive forefront.  It’s not super soft like the Hoka Clifton but also not as responsive as Saucony or New Balance.

The Brooks Ghost uses DNA Loft foam which runs from the heel through the midfoot. What does this mean? The DNA Loft cushioning is soft and adds the extra cushion on the heal as well as the transition (midfoot).

On the bottom of the shoe, Brooks uses “a Segmented Crash Pad” and “Flex Grooves” in the forefoot.

Segmented Crash Pads are small shock absorbers in the outsole. Each one works independently to cater to your form and where your foot lands. Together they make a smooth and seamless transition from heel to toe and a smoother step from previous versions.

Essentially, if you’ve run in previous models of the Ghost, the Ghost 12 will feel similar.

I’ve done long runs and easy runs in the shoe. For me, it feels the best as an easy run shoe. I prefer something slightly more responsive for workouts and faster long runs. The traction remains great, so if you’re running in the rain or ice, you shouldn’t have an issue.

Brooks Ghost 12 Shoe Review

Compared to a few other Brooks shoes:

Compared to the Brooks Glycerin 17, there is less cushion in the Ghost.

Compared to the Brooks Launch, there is more cushion in the Ghost 12.

Compared to the Brooks Richochet, the Ghost is a softer shoe

Compared to the Brooks Levitate 2, there is less cushion and it’s a softer ride with the Ghost.

Brooks 12 Conclusion:

The Brooks Ghost is one of the most traditional shoes out there and also one of the most sold running shoes out there. It’s an excellent staple for daily runs and easy runs. If you are looking for a neutral trainer that can do most everything, the Ghost is a good place to start.

The Brooks Ghost 12 didn’t change much since the Ghost 11.  Both versions of the Ghost use DNA Loft and BioMoGo DNA foam in the midsole. The smooth ride will feel very similar, and if anything have smoother transitions.

Brooks Ghost 12 Shoe Review

Current Rotation:

Easy/Daily Runs: Hoka Bondi 6,  Brooks Ghost 12

Speed Work: New Balance FuelCell RebelReebok Float Ride Run fast ProNike Streak Lt,

Long Runs: New Balance FuelCell RebelMizuno R2Hoka Cavu 2

Races:  Reebok Run fast Pro

You Can See All Current Shoe Reviews Here.

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. This week is all about recovery. 

Questions for you:

What is your staple training shoe?

What shoe have you been running the longest in?

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