Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Running Shoe Wear

Since January 2012  I have made some significant changes to the way I run.

It is generally perceived that a more natural running technique involves a ‘mid-foot’ strike (where pretty much all of the foot hits the ground at the same time) rather than a heel strike (where the heel hits the ground first followed by the forefoot). Being keen to make some quick changes to my running technique this was one of the first things I did to adopt a more natural running style.

After running with what I perceived to be a mid foot strike I thought it would be interesting to see what the differences in shoe wear are since I changed the way I run. I have therefore compared wear on two running shoes - one pair that I wore before making running technique changes and ones that I wore after.

The shoe that I wore before making changes is the Asics 2160 - a conventional shoe with pronation control which according to my Garmin Watch and Sportracks software I wore for 400 miles. The shoes which I wore after the making changes is the Nike Free 3 v3 a semi minimalist shoe which I still use and at the time of writing having clocked up 298 miles. 

There is 100 miles difference in use and the running shoes are obviously constructed from different materials that will affect wear rates, but it is still worth having a look to compare the pattern of wear between the two.

Asics 2160

Lets take a look at the Asics shoes first. As you can see on the right shoe there is some wear of the outside edge of a small portion of the heal and some minor wear in the forefoot region. On the right shoe there is more wear in the heel this time on the inside. There is also a minor amount of wear in the forefoot (about the same as the left shoe).

Nike Free 3v3

On the right shoe the wear is low and it is pretty even across the shoe with perhaps a little more on the forefoot and heel regions. However on the left shoe there is a lot more wear in the heel region particulary the outside part, on the rest of the left shoe there seems to be very little wear.


It seems to me in the 2160s that I was quite clearly heel striking possibly harder on the right foot than the left. The wear seems to be located in a small region on both shoes where my heel hit the ground. 

With the Nike Frees the right foot seems to correspond to the changes that I have made to adopt a mid foot strike with pretty even wear across the shoe. With the left shoe however it seems I may still by striking heel first lightly on the outside of the foot as this is the part of the shoe that has worn the most.

In Late 2011 I had a professional gait analysis carried out and I know that I overpronate on my left side and am neutral on my right (due to a functional leg length difference) so I think this has a bearing on the wear on the right shoe as well (overpronators tend to heel strike on the outside of the foot first).

What can I take from this is my quest to adopt a more natural running form has worked. I am not too worried about a light heel strike on my right foot. I have subsequently discovered that foot strike is not the be all and end all when it comes  to changing running technique (listen to the following podcast by Pete Larsson the the writer of Runnblogger.com website for more on this topic). I think that concentrating on not overstrding is probably more important and is for me at least an area that I now think most about when I am running.