Before I lost weight, which is a story I should really tell sometime, I would have been terrified to have some analyse my running style. I wasn’t confident in my athletic ability or potential, and it would have just felt like an experience in being judged. I think this is a pitfall that many women come across. They don’t want to feel like the super-fit person working at the sporting goods store will judge them for not knowing what sort of shoe they need, or what running gear is worth investing in so they avoid it and wear crap. I know that I wore my high school running shoes long after high school. Embarrassingly long after high school really. This is partially because I didn’t feel that my athletic efforts deserved nice new gear, but also because I didn’t want to put myself in a situation where someone would ask me something like “how long can you run?” Back then, it would have been for maybe 30 seconds.
The point in that long preamble is that I would have liked information available on what will actually happen when you ask someone to recommend a shoe. Knowing the terrain before venturing into a store would have made it a lot more approachable for unfit me. So, on the off-chance there’s anyone out there like the prior version of myself, here’s what happens when you have your running gait analysed.
I recently had this done on Christmas Eve so my mother-in-law could buy me a good pair of trainers to run in. We went to New Balance because there’s a factory store attached (and the actual New Balance factory, for that matter) and the prices are at least half what you would pay in any other New Balance store. Firstly, the employee asked me what sort of running I’m doing (street or treadmill), if I’m having any problems (still that little ankle niggle from time to time), and if I had any idea what sort of shoe I should be in. I told them that I’d used one of the machines at Sports Direct that looks at your arch height, but that’s it. She had me roll up my jean legs (hint, don’t wear super tight jeans), and put on a neutral pair of shoes. She gave me a brief tutorial on the treadmill and fill out a waiver. Then I got on the treadmill, got it up to a pace that felt comfortable, and they videoed from my knees downward for about 40 seconds. This was then played back frame by frame to see how I strike. It turns out, I am a neutral runner. She then told me which shoes would suit me and I tried a few on and took a lovely pair home that have been very comfortable thus far.
I hope this has demystified the gait analysis process for anyone who thought it would be scary. It really wasn’t. Investing in proper gear can help your performance and avoid injury. Those tatty old trainers that you’ve had since you were 18 have probably long since worn out and you should think about taking the time to get something that suits your goals, no one’s judging.
-Sweaty Ms. J