Dossier: Running coaching

Best foot forward!

Every runner has their own unique style, and every foot is different. So the first thing you should do when choosing running shoes is have a specialist retailer analyse your feet and gait.

What shoe fits what foot? What makes a good running shoe? There’s a huge selection of running shoes on offer. But you’ll make the right choice if you know what to look out for and get advice from a professional. Here’s a quick calculation to demonstrate the value of good shoes: Every step a jogger takes, the impact of their foot hitting the ground is equivalent to around two to three times their body weight. Over the course of 10 km that soon adds up to several hundred tonnes.

Modern analysis tools: European marathon champion Viktor Röthlin also used state-of-the-art analysis tools to help Sanitas running coaching candidates Nicole Abgottspon and Christoph Banik shop for running shoes at Ochsner Sport, choosing the optimum shoes to match the pressure and stress distribution and the shape and size of their feet. Nicole and Christoph did short running sequences in the shop while Viktor used the video analysis tool to check whether the shoes matched their running style. The tool also shows, for example, whether someone has a neutral gait or whether their foot rolls excessively inwards or outwards (overpronation or underpronation).

One pair of shoes for each training unit

Each candidate got two pairs of running shoes. This is because you should vary the shoes you train with to avoid unilateral strain. "There are small differences between each brand and model, which result in slight differences in gait," explains Viktor. The rule of thumb is that you should wear a different pair of shoes for each weekly training unit. That’s good for your feet, and good for your shoes! Victor’s tip: when you buy shoes, also get special running socks. They’ll make your run a lot more comfortable.

6 tips when buying running shoes

  1. When you’re trying on shoes, make sure your big toe has around one or two centimetres of space. Your feet extend as you train and your circulation increases.
  2. For this reason it’s best to buy running shoes towards evening, when your feet are up to a centimetre longer than in the morning.
  3. Changing shoes is good for your feet and musculoskeletal system. If you run twice a week you should have two different pairs of shoes; if you train three times a week it’s best to have three pairs.
  4. The trendiest and most expensive shoes aren’t necessarily the best. The foot and gait analysis will show which shoes are best for your feet and running style.
  5. What type of terrain do you usually run on? Choose shoes designed for your favourite surface. Take your old running shoes with you to the sports store. A running specialist can get important insights merely by looking at the soles.
  6. Speaking of which: old shoes lose their tread and bounce, so depending on how intensively and frequently you train you should replace them every 800 kilometres or so.

Viktor Röthlin,
European marathon champion and fitness expert

“My goal is to ensure that Nicole and Christoph make it over the finish line of the Zürcher Silvesterlauf. But I also want the coaching to encourage them to get more exercise in their daily routine.”