Best supporting act

Published: 2011-07-18 09:51:18

  If there's one thing more painful, more disheartening than climbing Heartbreak Hill only to read at the start of the devastating incline that you're at the ''halfway point'', it's making the slow ascent with blisters the size of 50-cent pieces on your feet.

Challenged to participate in last year's City2Surf, I, like many others it seems, fell victim to the popular consensus that Asics always make the best shoes - and the more expensive the better.

So I shelled out amost $300 of my hard-earned only to find myself in more agony than Julia Gillard's front bench.


So if trying is the first step towards failure then the second, according to The Running Company's Chris Chapman, is falling for the hype surrounding brand-name shoes and peer consensus.

''People assume that price is always the best gauge from which to buy running shoes but nine times out of 10 it's not - it's all about trying to get the right shoe for your foot type,'' says Chapman, a veteran marathon runner with 12 years' experience in the running shoe industry, including nine years as a Nike representative.


''The running shoe industry is very incestuous now and designers and developers frequently jump between Nike, Asics, Adidas, Mizuno, Brooks, Saucony and New Balance.

''It's good because it means more choice for everyone. Asics has done a good job in the past but the playing field has pretty much levelled out now.''

Many specialist running stores throughout Sydney use digital gait analysis, for which prospective consumers are required to jog barefoot on a treadmill while their lower legs, calves and ankles are recorded by video camera then analysed for in-store experts to determine the most effective running shoe for each customer.


''You need to see it in real time and it needs to be done by someone who knows what they're talking about - runners, people who specialise in the industry and have been trained by physios and podiatrists,'' Chapman says.


So what do they look for? In a word: pronate, which is the rolling in of the foot when it hits the ground.