BY GORDON MCINTYRE
Running, sprinting, distance racing, call it what you will, it courses through Rand Clement’s veins.
The operating owner of The RIGHT Shoe on West 4th Avenue in Kitsilano has been in the running shoe business for more than 20 years. His dad Doug, one-time physician to the Canucks, and his mom Diane, best-selling author of the Chef on the Run cookbook series, were both Olympic runners.
Clement’s degree is in kinesiology from SFU, where he was a member of that school’s track team (as well as the University of Oregon track team). He still enters triathlons.
Who better to ask for advice on what to wear for the Vancouver Sun Run on April 23?
“A proper running shoe is obviously important, whether you walk or run the (10K) event,” he said. “But people typically come in, see a big wall of shoes, they’re not sure what to get and they wind up getting the purple ones because they like purple.
“More often than not they get the wrong shoe for their foot type or their biomechanics — the way they walk or run. And the size is probably wrong because they base what they think they should wear on the size of their dress shoes.”
So being fitted is important.
At the RIGHT Shoe, one of the official retailers of the Vancouver Sun Run along with Peninsula Runners, FitFirst Footwear and Rackets and Runners, staff will look at your current shoes to examine the wear pattern, watch how you walk and, of course, measure your feet.
“This gives us insight into the type of shoe that’s best,” Clement said. “We can guide you to a more appropriate shoe type and the right fit.”
A common mistake, he said, is people buy shoes that are too small.
You don’t need your toes pushed up against the end of the shoe, there should be wiggle room, he said.
As in any industry, shoe manufacturers are continuously tinkering with design and materials. One of the trends at the moment is a new material for the mid-sole.
“It enhances the bounciness of a shoe,” Clement said. “It provides more energy return.”
The upper sole, too — the part with the eyelets and tongue and so forth that provides support — has changed from even a year ago.
“The upper sole used to have a lot of overlaps,” Clement said. “You’d have nylon, support straps, the logo, more nylon, four or five layers.
“Over the last year or so (manufacturers) have gotten rid of the overlaps, all the support now comes from a nylon mesh material. It makes shoes more form fitting and instantly more comfortable without sacrificing support.”
You can get a good pair of running shoes for $145 to $200, Clement said. They should last you 650 to 1,000 kilometres.
And why stop at just running shoes? There’s the whole booming, Lululemon-inspired athleisure market, which investment bank Morgan Stanley reported earned $270 billion US a year ago.
“The idea is running clothes can pass off as everyday clothes,” Clement said. “It’s a huge trend in the industry.”
And one more accessory: Runner’s lights.
They come in all sorts and sizes, from LED headlamps, some of which illuminate objects almost 100 metres away, to arm bands and little clip-ons for your shoes.
“Having flashing lights on is important in the evening or morning,” Clement said. “It’s something we stress to all runners, try to be seen.”