June 13, 2024

Below is the abridged version of my “Run Long, Run Healthy” newsletter for this week. You can SUBSCRIBE HERE to get the much longer and more complete, full-text edition. Thanks for reading. Amby

Shoe Store Science: How To Find Your Best Shoe At Retail

Selecting and buying a new pair of running shoes at retail is no easy process. Not when you consider the vast number of choices on that big, impressive-looking shoe wall. 

And then there’s the sales person attending you. You’ve got to give him/her your close attention. After all, that’s why you came to retail. To get specialized help from a running expert.

For example, the sales person might inspect the way you walk or jog around the floor, or even offer “gait analysis” on the store’s treadmill. That sounds mighty impressive. 

But is it? That’s one of many questions raised by a new paper that analyzed shoe-purchasing behavior of 101 runners at 8 specialty running retailers in the Seattle area. It also contrasted differences between the prospective shoe buyers (you!) and the salespeople advising them. 

There’s a lot of information here, and it’s all freely available at the below link, so take a look yourself. I was most interested in the buyer vs sales person comparison.

For example, on average, the sales person was 11 years younger than the buyer, and a faster, more serious runner/racer. Retail sales people place great value on the in-store training they’ve received, and also on promotional materials from shoe companies and shoe sales reps. Buyers tend to lean on friends and family for advice. 

A big difference occurred when the researchers looked at gait analysis. Let’s face it: Everyone likes this approach in principle. But shoe buyers are rightfully dubious, with only 37% saying that gait analysis influenced their eventual purchase. 

The sales people? They love gait analysis, with 74% believing that it influences purchase decisions. 

Conclusion: “We caution runners to carefully consider the advice from salespeople as many employees make recommendations that are not evidence-based and may have limited experience.”

Also, if you’re a bit confused, don’t feel bad. No one has truly figured out how to pick the right shoe. “While there is little scientific evidence to support shoe selection based on comfort, gait analysis, and individual biomechanics or anatomy, there is no alternative consensus best practice.”

So buy your shoes according to a good fit first, and their overall comfort second. Also, listen to your running friends. More at Footwear Science with free full text.

Chew On This: Energy Bars Don’t Need Lots Of Extra Chewing

Most endurance runners get their midrace carbs from drinks and/or gels. These tend to go down smoother than bars, which require chewing, and may also upset the stomach more than less-solid foods. 

However, until now, no one had actually studied “how food chewing time and number of chewing cycles affect physiological and perceptual responses to exercise.” So let’s take a look. Our guide is well known runner-GI response expert Patrick Wilson, author of The Athlete’s Gut.

In this trial, 15 experienced male runners performed a time to exhaustion treadmill test while receiving an energy bar containing 180 calories. On one occasion, the runners were instructed to chew the bar 20 times. On another test, they chewed 40 times. 

Wilson and colleagues hypothesized that 40 chews would be better than 20. After all, it would produce more and smaller food particles. These ought to pass through the stomach with less distress, and get into the bloodstream faster. 

But the differences weren’t significant--not on blood glucose, carb vs fat oxidation, GI symptoms, or time to exhaustion. Conclusion: “Runners partaking in ultra-endurance events likely do not need to concern themselves with how thoroughly they chew solid foods during competition.” More at European J of Applied Physiology with free full text.

How To Keep Your “Body Battery” 100% Fully Charged

Garmin, the GPS watch company, wants us all to run more … and presumably to buy more of its digital products. So it recently produced a long list of “Smartwatch data highlights” connected to health and wellness scores. 

Some of these might raise an eyebrow. For example, at your next annual physical, ask your doc about your “Body Battery” score. I think you’ll get a “Huh?” look and reply.

That said, I rather like the Body Battery metaphor. We all want our health and physiology to be fully charged--not running on low or sinking to “no charge.” And Garmin says that running 50 miles a week will charge your Body Battery more than 10 miles/week. 

Sounds good. The more you run (up to a point), the more health benefits you receive. 

Garmin also says that running up to 50 miles/week will improve your sleep, lower your resting heart rate, lower your stress, and make you 7 years younger than your chrono age. I don’t think Garmin’s wrong on any of these claims--just a little bit too confident of its numbers.

The company is on much firmer ground when it offers a couple of running metrics by country. I probably wouldn’t have guessed that the French run longer per workout--5.43 miles--than runners in any other country. 

That could be a good thing for this summer’s Peoples Olympic Marathon in Paris (“Pour Tous”). I just learned about this. It will be an “open” marathon race beginning at 9 pm on August 10th. The Peoples Marathon will use the same course as that morning’s Men’s Olympic Marathon, and the next morning’s Women’s Olympic Marathon.

In other words, there will be three marathons on the same Paris marathon course in just a bit more than 24 hours. Nice. I hope the U.S. does the same at the 2028 L.A. Olympic Games. Though we’ll have to pick up our training volume. At this point, Garmin doesn’t even give U.S. runners a Top 20 ranking for distance/workout.

The French may run long, but they don’t go fast. They placed 19th in the speed category with their average pace of 9:34 per mile. The Irish are quickest at 9:06/mile, with the U.S. placing 14th at 9:31. More at Garmin.

SHORT STUFF You Don’t Want To Miss

>>> Is your running shoe legal? World Athletics has unveiled a tool, “CertCheck,” that lists all shoes legal in World and Olympic competitions (track and roads). You’ll be amazed by some of the brands you’ve never heard of. 

HERE’S WHAT ELSE YOU WOULD HAVE RECEIVED this week if you were a subscriber to the complete, full-text edition of “Run Long, Run Healthy.” Why not give it a try? SUBSCRIBE HERE.

# Foam rolling heals leg muscles, but avoid these 5 mistakes

# New track trick--Wear heavy road shoes

# Believe it or not: Fruits & veggies can improve your sleep time

# The simple form fix that stops knee pain

# Combined intermittent fasting and exercise “may improve strength and endurance”

# Power up your pace with heavy weight lifting

# Unlock the mysteries of Achilles pain and muscle cramps

# A motivational “you can do it” quote from famed Univ. of Oregon coach, Bill Bowerman

DON’T FORGET: I spend hours searching the Internet for the best, most authoritative new running articles, so you can review them in minutes.

That’s all for now. Thanks for reading. See you again next week. Amby