Rebecca Milford scours Dubai in search of the perfect running trainers
Days until Wadi Bih: 17
The most important piece of kit for a runner? Proper trainers.
During the course of my Wadi Bih training, I’ve lost count of the number of people who’ve stressed the importance of good running shoes. Maybe they’re having a sly dig at my battered Silver Shadows, circa 1997, which I assume won’t cut it any more. Apparently, wearing the wrong trainers can cause a host of difficulties, including muscle pain, joint problems and more. But what on earth are ‘proper’ trainers, and where do I get them?
The team at the Nike Run Club point me in the direction of the Nike store (naturally) at Dubai Festival City, which offers a free high-tech analysis of my running style to ensure I choose the right shoes. You see, not everyone runs the same way. Most people’s knees and feet roll in or out slightly as their foot strikes the ground: this is known as ‘pronation’, and can be corrected by wearing shoes with more support in specific areas. To enable Nike’s sneaker experts to analyse how I run, I’m told to take off my shoes and socks and jump onto a treadmill, where I’m asked to jog at a steady pace for a couple of minutes. A camera is then trained on the back of my feet and legs, capturing a short video clip of my gait. It feels pretty weird running barefoot, but the staff tell me to try to move normally so they can take a look at my natural gait.
Then comes the sciency bit. The video of my jog is loaded into a specialised software program, which slows down the footage so the staff can take a closer look at the position of my foot as it hits the floor, mid-stance and ‘ toe-off’ (as my toes push off from the ground). The video of my legs is repeatedly fast-forwarded and rewound on screen, yet it’s not the most flattering image: the angle of the camera frames my Lycra-clad posterior so my jiggling derriere is on show for all to see. Note to self: wear baggier shorts next time.
But back to the technology. The staff use the software to draw lines on the images, tracing a path from my heel to the back of my knee; the angle of this line enables them to determine if I have a straight, neutral gait, or whether I’m pronating slightly by rolling in or out as my feet hit the floor. My left leg seems to be pretty neutral (the angle of 0.5 degrees is so small as to be negligible, apparently), while my right leg rolls in at an angle of about 4 degrees. This means I’ll need trainers with a small amount of support to correct the pronation.
I’m presented with a shiny new pair of black Nike Lunarglide+ 3 trainers; I lace them up and climb back aboard the treadmill. They feel super-light and bouncy (just goes to show how old and knackered my other trainers were) with arch support that wraps around my foot – as I run, I can feel the support in my instep, which will hopefully correct my stance. Now that I think about it, I’ve noticed I sometimes suffer from aching knees and hips after wearing my old sneakers; here’s hoping my smart new kicks will eliminate the problem. I’ll report back after a few more runs.
Next time: Will I survive the Dubai 10k? Full puff-by-puff race report coming soon …
Free gait analysis is available at the Nike Stores at Dubai Festival City (04 232 9311) and Ibn Battuta (04 366 9777).