Modern athletes run on shoes made of complex synthetic materials, mostly nylon and rubber.
Running shoe history
Runners in first Olympics compete barefoot.
1st century A.D.
Roman shoemaking is well advanced
All-leather spiked shoes
First marathon (40km) at first modern Olympics in Athens is run over rock ground. Shoes were probably not spiked.
Spalding introduces special marathon shoe. Diamond-tread, gum-rubber soles wore out fast.
Spalding gives up on gum rubber, goes back to leather.
American Jesse Owens wins gold medal using German-made shoes by Adolf Dassler, who later forms Adidas company; his brother Rudolf starts Puma.
Rubber-soled training shoes become popular
New Balance, an orthopedic shoe maker, introduces the influential Trackster.
Tiger company introduces all-nylon uppers.
Nike's first shoe with waffle outsole.
New Balance 3:05 has flared heel, improved stability
Nike Tailwind has capsules of compressed freon gas in sole; first running shoes priced at more than $50.
Nike makes first multi-purpose "cross-training" shoe.
A modern running shoe
Padded collar protects ankle
Foxing (stiff leather) covers heel counter
Heel counter stabilizes foot
Sock liner prevents chafing
+ MIDSOLE Absorbs shock
Absorbs shock and raises heel
Provides traction, some shock absorption
Vamp (covers forefoot)
Featherline (edge where shoe attaches to sole)
Shoes take abuse during a run
A running stride takes about one-fifth of a second. A long-distance runner's feet in action:
with shoe's rear outside edge.
occurs as foot naturally rolls to a flat position
begins as runner pushes off front of shoe
has braking effect. Force is two times runner's body weight.
as braking changes to acceleration
as much as three times the runner's weight
Sources: The Running Shoe Book by Dr. Peter R. Cavanagh; Sneakers by Robert Young; Dr. Stephen M. Pribut; Nike; Adidas; New Balance; American Medical Association Encyclopedia of Medicine; research by TINA GWALTNEY