So, I’ve read through my first couple posts and I’m concerned I haven’t really served anyone. Hopefully you’ll be patient with me – I’m a noob at this website/blogging thing.
Are you a beginner? Or, are you simply on a budget (who isn’t)? Then keep reading.
If you’re a CrossFit newbie. Or, if you’re just minding your dollars and cents, then rest easy. You can probably get by for a little while with your basic running shoes or cross-trainers. They should serve you just fine as you make your initial foray into the world of CrossFit. Exactly how long they’ll suffice is really up to you. If you’re Steady Eddie, and you’re going to just gradually acclimate to this CrossFit thing, then you could probably get by for six months or more without adding to your shoe collection. But, if you really feel the need to get a pair of dedicated CrossFit shoes, you should strongly consider a pair of (don’t laugh) Converse Chuck Taylors. They’re well-recommended, dirt cheap, and will serve your fairly well as an all-purpose shoe for almost any WOD.
If you’re super aggressive and you can’t wait to master the power and olympic lifts and you’re totally focused on creaming your past PRs, there’s a good chance you’ll need to upgrade sooner rather than later. Why? For a number of reasons.
- First, most CrossFit trainers are going to advocate running form that has you landing on your forefoot. This method is less abusive to your skeletal structure because is allows your body’s natural shock absorption system to do its thing. It also happens to be more efficient than landing on your heel, which effectively acts as mini-brake every time your stride. You’ll find typical running and cross training shoes have thick, cushy heals which make landing on your forefoot extremely difficult.
- Second, as you start lifting heavier weights, your running shoes and cross trainers may hinder your progress. That’s because the thick, compressible soles and heels work against you. They can’t provide the stability you need and you may find your ankles rolling inward or outward, putting you at risk of injury. This is especially the case on squats, where you’ll be spreading the floor with your feet as opposed to driving down through your heels.
- Third, when you start getting good at the Olympic lifts, you’ll realize your ability to explode and dynamically drive your heels into the ground is key to your success. Doing this successfully in running or cross-trainers is very difficult because it’s as if you’re standing on little pillows (or marshmallows as one gentleman put it). Those soft, compressible heals absorb and dissipate your explosive movement, keeping you from successfully lifting heaving weights.
- And finally, fourth, the more in tune you become to your mechanics the more you’ll realize how valuable your feet are in providing you necessary feedback. Wrapped in poor fitting shoes, with limited support and tall, squishy heels, you’ll loose that valuable feedback. You can think of it like trying to tie your shoes wearing winter gloves – it can be done but it’s not fun.
To wrap it up, if you’re a beginner or you’re just watching the family budget, chill out and keep using your existing sneakers or gym shoes. If you must, pick up a pair of Chuck Taylors. But don’t stress out. Take the time to get acclimated to CrossFit. Focus heavily on learning proper form and mechanics. All the equipment in the world won’t make up for slacking off in this area so make sure your box has good trainers who are sticklers on teaching you the proper power and olympic lifting techniques. If, on the other hand, you’re determined to go to the next CrossFit Games, you’ll likely need to start thinking about some dedicated, all-purpose CrossFit footwear in the near future. I’ll write an article soon for you intermediate folks.