Go the Distance with a Well-Fitted or High-Tech Shoe

Nike's Air Zoom Moire shoe, outfitted with the Nike iPod sports kit.

Nike's Air Zoom Moire shoe is outfitted with the Nike iPod sports kit. Nike hide caption

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If you are a runner who wants to push yourself harder, there's a new high-tech running aid on the market that's built in to your shoe.

It's a small device that signals to your iPod, which interrupts your favorite iTune, and your run, to tell you how you are doing.

The Nike and iPod sports kit consists of a pair of running shoes with a built-in pocket under the insole (about $100 for shoes and $29 for the sensor kit). A sensor that you insert inside the pocket measures your running pace and wirelessly transmits the data to your iPod nano (pricing for the nano starts at $149.)

When you start your run, you select your music and a pleasant voice — you choose the gender — tells you to hop to it. At the press of a button, the voice will return to tell you how many miles you have run and how fast you are running.

For Portland, Ore., runner and businessman David Howitt, it's like running with your own personal trainer.

"I feel like I have a coach with me, telling me I'm on pace or off pace," Howitt says. "It definitely pushes you."

The voice will even tell you if you are running particularly well. After one run, Howitt says Lance Armstrong's voice came on and congratulated him for running his fastest yet.

After you cool down, you can download all your running data into your computer and compare it with other runs. It will even tell you how many calories you are burning.

But if you look for this kit at The Portland Running Company, you won't find it, says owner Dave Harken.

At this Portland Institution, the emphasis is on how the shoe fits, not whether a sensor can fit inside. Harken watches as his new employee Jake Gartland runs in his old shoes. Gartland's big toe is a giant cue, says Harken.

"Jake is pronating," Harken says. "As he runs, his foot goes beyond the big toe. It rolls too far over and creates knee and hip misalignment."

Gartland's problem, like most other runners, is his body is not perfectly aligned, causing problems for his knees and his hips, says Harken. He suggests that Gartland buy a shoe with a little extra support under the arch of the foot.

"To make it firmer on one side, to slow him down and keep him off the big toe," Harken explains.

Gartland tries on the new shoes, and goes for a little jog. This time, Harken sees a better alignment with Gartlanhis knees and hips line up, meaning less stress on his joints and fewer injuries.

Harken says every runner, especially beginners, should have their run analyzed. The key to a comfortable and injury-free run, he says, is a well-fitted pair of shoes.



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