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These shoes were made for running

Modern athletes run on shoes made of complex synthetic materials, mostly nylon and rubber.

Running shoe history

776 B.C.

Runners in first Olympics compete barefoot.

1st century A.D.

Roman shoemaking is well advanced

1865

All-leather spiked shoes

1896

First marathon (40km) at first modern Olympics in Athens is run over rock ground. Shoes were probably not spiked.

1908

Spalding introduces special marathon shoe. Diamond-tread, gum-rubber soles wore out fast.

1913

Spalding gives up on gum rubber, goes back to leather.

1936

American Jesse Owens wins gold medal using German-made shoes by Adolf Dassler, who later forms Adidas company; his brother Rudolf starts Puma.

1945

Rubber-soled training shoes become popular

1962

New Balance, an orthopedic shoe maker, introduces the influential Trackster.

1967

Tiger company introduces all-nylon uppers.

1972

Nike's first shoe with waffle outsole.

1975

New Balance 3:05 has flared heel, improved stability

1979

Nike Tailwind has capsules of compressed freon gas in sole; first running shoes priced at more than $50.

1987

Nike makes first multi-purpose "cross-training" shoe.

A modern running shoe

+ UPPER

Padded collar protects ankle

Foxing (stiff leather) covers heel counter

Heel counter stabilizes foot

Sock liner prevents chafing

+ MIDSOLE Absorbs shock

+ WEDGE

Absorbs shock and raises heel

+ OUTSOLE

Provides traction, some shock absorption

Tongue

Eyestay

Saddle reinforcement

Vamp (covers forefoot)

Toe box

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:

First contact

with shoe's rear outside edge.

Pronation

occurs as foot naturally rolls to a flat position

Propulsion

begins as runner pushes off front of shoe

Landing

has braking effect. Force is two times runner's body weight.

Middle phase

as braking changes to acceleration

Take-off force

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

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