Which trainers should I pick for triathlon?

triathlon running shoes

The only real kit that you will add for the run will be your trainers as you’ll be in your tri suit from the previous events, but what do you need to consider when picking the right shoes?

Running shoes, trainers, sneakers, whatever you call them the range is enormous and never-ending!

In reality, as with all kit, the basic pair of shoes will do you fine as long as they are comfortable and relatively light, but if you are looking for a new set and want to make sure that they will improve your running, there are a few things you should look for.

Comfort

No matter how high tech the design and construction of the shoes are, if they are not comfortable, you won’t wear them and won’t train, defeating the purpose of the shoes in the first place. Obviously, the fit is important, both lengthwise and width fitting. Any shoes that move around when you are running will increase the risk of chafing and injury, so should be avoided. Narrow shoes increase the risk of Metatarsalgia, which is compression of the nerves around the metatarsals.

As well as size, make sure there are no seams inside that could rub against the foot and that the lacing pattern spreads the pressure across the top of the foot evenly and to the right height on the foot.

Getting the right tension on the laces is important too, and you may want to consider elastic laces, which not only let you fix the right tension but make it much easier to get your shoes on during the race.

Support

If you have high arches, then you know how much it hurts if you don’t have the right support, and that just gets worse when running, and you increase the risk of ankle and plantar Fascia injuries, which can also put Strain on your Achilles and calf.

Cushioning

This is aimed more at the heavier, less conditioned runner, who has not perfected the form and muscle tone required to take the shock of repeated footstrikes, which will lead to knee and shin problems later. Heavily cushioned soles have traditionally been designed with the cushioning more at the back, taking the weight off when standing, but modern running techniques favour a stride where the foot strikes in the midfoot and many running shoes are now designed with cushioning that supports this mechanic.

Lightness

The lighter the shoe, the less work you need to do to move them, helping you maintain your energy throughout a longer race. It may not seem like much, but it can make all the difference in a long race. Obviously lighter weight means less material, so don’t expect a lot of cushioning and support.

Varus

Varus is a relatively new aspect of shoe mechanics for the mainstream running shoe, but it can make a big difference to your comfort and injury prevention, especially around the ankles and lower leg. Varus measures the angle that the sole of the foot makes relative to the leg, and therefore the amount of roll the foot will experience when it hits the ground ( supination and pronation.)

The foot naturally rolls from the inside outward from the foot strike to lift off, but if the structure of the foot leads to excessive movement in one or more direction, this puts a lot of strain on the muscles of the ankle and lower leg, which can lead to fatigue and injury.

A good running shop will be able to perform a gait analysis, where you run on a treadmill and the natural movement is captured for analysis, and the relevant shoe type suggested. be advised though, there is a school of thought that suggests that by running with normal, neutral shoes you can train this natural behaviour out, so make sure whoever is advising you know what they are talking about.

Price

This is where your own personal circumstances take over. There is no doubt that you can run the triathlon in a 10-year-old pair of Nikes quite happily, but there will be advantages in weight, support, materials and performance as you move up the price point. A good pair of Brooks or Asics shoes will set you back around €160, but if you are going to be spending a lot of time in them, your feet and legs will probably thank you for it.