I have often spoken about the importance of having the correct shoe for the activity of your choice. Yes, this can be tough on the pocket if you take an interest in more than one sport or activity, but it will still be cheaper than paying for the hospital visits if you get injured from wearing the wrong shoes.
Side note: sometimes I work out barefoot in the gym if I don’t have the correct shoes. Some people run barefoot. But unfortunately, most other sports will not let you ditch your shoes. So, choose something mindfully. Here are a few shoes that I found useful this year for a few of my activities.
If you are a new runner, a basic all-purpose running shoe can work (may I suggest the Adiboost series from Adidas or Gel Kayano series from Asics). But if you are seasoned and have been consistently working on getting faster and building mileage, then you might want to consider different shoes for your different runs. This helps you get the maximum benefits for each shoe’s technical design, and rotating the shoes every week or so will make them last longer (the cushioning can recover from all the pounding on the road if you give it a few days of rest).
The Fuelcell Rebel V2 from New Balance—which is a new entrant in the country—is a good choice for your tempo runs. By not using it for the weekend long runs, you will increase the longevity of these shoes. But you should also not use it for fast intervals or sprint runs. The reason for this is the design of the shoe. While it is a lightweight shoe (only about 200 grams), it lacks support and stability in the midfoot area. This can be dreadful if you cannot manage a turn during a sprint and end up twisting your ankle. The insole this shoe uses is basic at best, which lets you experience the Fuelcell foam but does not protect you from quickly developing pain in the plantar fascia.
That said, however, the shoe works really well, especially for heel strikers. The outsole crash pad lets you land smoothly, and despite the soft cushioning, it does not feel unsteady. The midsole area is quite wide, and the upper is extremely breathable. Instead of a sock-like entry, this version from the Rebel series uses a wide tongue with a soft and asymmetrical flap. The slim upper fits a half-size small, so you might want to try it out first before purchasing. Though the quality of the upper itself is slightly suspect, where we have noticed wear and tear already in a few months’ sparse use, the shoe itself is very peppy and wonderful to wear for tempo runs where you are already pushing yourself a bit. The ankle collar itself is soft and flexible, the 4mm outsole is built from a dual-density material, and there are NDurance patches at the bottom of the shoe (the black rubber bits for better grip) are placed in high wear areas. Overall, it’s great for a tempo shoe, but you might want to use it for that and for long runs, but maybe skip its use during sprint sessions.
New Balance Rebel V2 costs ₹10,159 + international shipping. Available on newbalance.com
Fun dance. Should be okay to wear any shoes that you have at home, right? Wrong! Zumba shoes are not the same as running or training shoes. While the first one has flexibility, it might be too ‘grippy’ and would stop you from moving across the floor quickly (especially since you are more likely to do Zumba in a studio). The latter is sturdy, heavy and not flexible enough for you to move your feet, go on your toes, jump and land during your routine.
The Freestyle Hi is a classic sneaker – with a high-rise ankle support. So if you are pivoting during the class, it is still going to have your back. However, the shoes are a little on the stiff side, so they might need a few days of breaking in; probably just take them out during shopping outings or walks. It can also feel a bit narrow, so sizing up would probably be the best. These come with Velcro straps for added security, but my personal experience with Velcro on shoes is that they wear out pretty soon. These come in a variety of colours, including pastel shades, so you might just consider them for your daily wear sneakers as well—with or without a workout.
Reebok Freestyle Hi costs ₹7,999. Available on shop4reebok.com
While any shoe at the gym gets labelled as “trainers”, specific Crossfit or HIIT shoes can be useful for both basic cardio—such as short runs, skipping and box jumps—as well as weight lifting—cleans, snatches, squats and more. The elevated heel gives support while you are doing heavy-weight squats.
I picked up the Under Armour Project Rock 4 for my workouts last month. I love the tribute series because of the stability it provides. The name reflects the same – a three-point triangle base which makes each step more stable, even if you are jumping on a 24-inch box. At the same time, it is flexible enough to let me skip rope without getting calf soreness. Unlike many other HIIT shoes, these are also comfortable enough to run a reasonable distance – at least 5km. There is enough grip even for doing exercises such as wall walks, and plank holds with no slips or sliding.
However, this particular edition seems to have changed the upper. Though in vibrant neon green, the material is not as breathable as earlier versions. I thought its possibly the hot summer days, so I switched back to my Tribase 3. But that remained airy and breathable. But this is only one slight inconvenience in an otherwise great shoe. It makes for fun workout wear as well as day wear.
Under Armour Project Rock 4
Under Armour Project Rock 4 costs ₹14,999. Available in stores