Foot Patrol

Although football season has now officially arrived in the bay area, the appearance of fall items in the grocery (hello, Octoberfest ale!… in September!) has the TampaSportsFitness offices considering a change in the weather and the oncoming rush of outdoor events. And since both the paint run and the pixie dust run just finished, we feel a little safer about going outside.

Tough Mudder (where volunteers can run for $20 after working!) and the Zombie 5k will both be returning to the bay area later this year, and their reappearance enforces the notion that 5k races of different flavors are becoming (wait for it…) a trend. Articles on Tough Mudder have already appeared in Men’s Journal and GQ. The Zombie 5k has been featured as a fall favorite event on the Travel Channel. And in the bay area, clubs have formed to prepare/push each other to finish the runs.

One thing that hasn’t been addressed very well? Footwear.

Consider: most running shoes are designed to handle long runs on paved surfaces, such as roads and sidewalks. But the obstacle course runs typically take place in fields, and cleat shoes aren’t considered wise since they would not allow for the best performance once the person leaves the ground. Plus, anyone crawling in the trenches won’t appreciate being kicked by a football sneaker. Tough Mudder, for example, recommends any old shoe that can be donated after. Based on that criteria, one could therefore attempt the course in platform heels (please don’t).

TampaSportsFitness endorses any kind of activity, be it gimmicky or classic, but takes a substance over style approach to the type of shoes. To be sure, running shoes and cross-trainers are generally acknowledged as the go-to shoes for most physical activities, with some exceptions like yoga and diving. But those shoes aren’t always the correct choice. The right footwear for the right event has always been an ongoing issue in the TampaSportsFitness office, especially when it comes to more off-beat activities than outrunning zombies and enduring an obstacle course.

A pair of parkour shoes runs (HA!) for about $49.99. A decent pair of high-end soccer cleats online can be more than $200. And triathlon shoes can be about $100. The problems with all these specialized foot requirements, of course, are money and space; specialized shoes are hard to find cheap, and the more shoes you have the bigger the closest space needed (or garage, in the case of certain sport bloggers).

For example, while engaging in acrobalance a few years ago, TampaSportsFitness discovered that ninja tabi boots (which can be purchased at Wolfpack Martial Arts Supplies on Busch Boulevard by Chamberlain High School) were fantastic in terms of grip and support for acrobatic activities, which included standing on shoulders and running up walls. Likewise, Feiyue shoes were ideal for practicing martial arts on carpet and gymnasium floors, although tile floors proved problematic. And fencing, which favors shoes with flat soles to allow for the quick weight transfers, could be ideally served with wrestling shoes, which are flat and provide superior ankle support.

So what kind of shoe works best for your activity? And is it something odd, like bowling shoes for rock climbing?

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