I recently had the pleasure of interviewing ASICS employee Chris Naimoli. Chris works in Consumer Relations and part of Specialty Sales. In this interview he shares a little about himself and of course shoes.
[ Matt ] Hello Chris Naimoli, thank you for taking the time for this interview. I'm sure everyone will find this information very helpful. I'd like to start off by having you tell us a little bit about yourself. What is your position at ASICS and what exactly are your responsibilities for that particular position?
[ Chris ] I work in Consumer Relations and part of Specialty Sales. I share duties in answering the Consumer Line and I respond to all the letters and emails sent to the company through the website.
[ MW ] Cardiovascular training is a necessity to everyone no matter what age and the correct shoes for the correct training is very important. Can you tell us a little bit about why getting a specific shoe for a type of training is so important?
[ CN ] Getting the correct shoe is import because other things can come about, causing discomfort and injuries. If I tend to stay to the outside of my shoes, and I get a stability shoe that forces me to the outside, then I am going to develop hip pain, IT Band problems, outer calf strains.
If I get a neutral cushioning shoe, and I am a severe overpronator, I will most likely develop shin splints, which could result in stress fractures and pain on the inside part of the knee.
[ MW ] People always talk about their arches or that they tend to overpronate... etc. Could you touch a little bit on the types of issues people tend to have with their feet and how the correct shoes can help them with these problems? Can these types of shoes be bought in stores or must they be special ordered?
[ CN ] They can be bought at the stores like any other shoe. The arch has a lot to do with a person's foot strike. As I mentioned above, those are common issues with people's different type of arches. The first case dealing with a high to normal arch and the second case dealing with a flat or low arch.
[ MW ] For people who enjoy working out in a gym (cardiovascular as well as weight training), what would be the best shoe choice for them and why?
[ CN ] If I am using a treadmill, elliptical, etc, I am going to look for a shoe that tends to be a little stiffer. If there is too much flexibility in the shoe, people tend to experience numbness in the feet. If all I am doing is weights, then I would probably get a cross trainer since it has a wider base to it and would give me more stable base when lifting weights.
[ MW ] What should people look for in a good quality pair of shoes?
[ CN ] Comfort. The first thing I notice is the fit. After the fit, I go for feel. I tell people to try them out on the treadmill first, this way, if it doesn't work, since you truly don't know until you get some time in them, they still are new and can be returned. You have to realize your tendencies.
For myself, I know I like an extremely soft-shoe, so when I would search for a shoe, I would make sure to try only shoes that I know were soft. If you remember these tendencies, then you can walk into any store and say, "Give me the softest shoes you got".
Dr. David Ryan
[ MW ] With all the different types of your shoes available, what are the differences between them all?
[ CN ] Our line is starting to resemble a "grid" system. There are 3 main categories with 3 different price points in our Performance Running area. They are Cushioning, Structured Cushioning, and Maximum Support. These are where most people buy their shoes.
In the Structured Cushioning and Cushioning sections, we make shoes at 3 different price points, each having more cushioning then the lower one, which will also be more expensive too. We also have a part that is called Active Running which is a price point running shoe. It allows people, mainly high school runners, whose parents don't want to spend that much on shoes because they don't know if they are going to like it or it is more fashion oriented, which allows people to "look good" while working out.
[ MW ] Does ASICS do any testing/research on their shoes? If so, what?
[ CN ] Mainly the testing is done in Japan. The shoes that are out now were being planned about 2 years ago. You talk to the developers and they don't know which shoe is out on the market right now because they are far ahead of what is out there.
We just did a test on a new midsole for the GT series where a bunch of people had to run 9 miles a day, wearing two different midsole for two weeks and saying which one they liked best. We have a wear test program, and since there are showers on the facility, a lot of us run during our lunch hour, where we will test out shoes and supply input.
[ MW ] What is the normal lifespan of a pair of shoes and how do you know when they need to be replaced?
[ CN ] The normal life span is 350 to 400 miles roughly. Depends on how hard you are on shoes. I am pretty efficient and don't get hurt a lot, so I get more then 400. I know other runners who would get rid of a shoe after 300 miles. Depends on the person, depends on the shoe.
I use to right the date on mine, and I alternated shoes. I never ran in the same shoe two days in a row, because it gives the midsole a chance to expand back as much as possible before I used it again. Think of a marshmallow. If you squeeze it once, it will bounce back, keep squeezing it, and it doesn't bounce back to that full shape ever again.
It does have an effect on the breaking down of the midsole. Also, running on soft surfaces will also increase the life of a shoe. The grass/dirt will also be taking away some of the shock, thus increasing your shoes life. Look for little signs. I know when a shoe is dead because I start to get a pain under the ball of my foot. If something creeps up and is bothering you that weren't there for the previous couple months the first thing to mind should be, "How old are my shoes?"
[ MW ] Can shoes be washed in a washing machine if they get dirty or stained (especially if running muddy trails), or must they be hand-washed?
[ CN ] We suggest using a detergent and hand washing. You don't want to put them in the dryer because they will shrink. People do successfully wash them in the machine, but you need to use cold water and like I said, do not put them in the dryer.
I never wash any of my shoes. If they got muddy, then it was usually raining and I would just go through a couple puddles. I use newspaper to help dry them out so that in a couple days they were ready again. You only want to use your running shoes for running, so I never cared what they looked like.
[ MW ] Is there anything else you would like to add about shoes and/or exercise?
[ CN ] Listen to your body. If you need to take it easy because you feel a little beat up, then go easy or take the day off. Successful running has nothing to do with the act of running it has to do with what you do when you are not running. Eating right, staying off your feet, getting enough sleep, etc all effect how you are going to perform when you finally decide to run.
[ MW ] Thank you Chris for this great interview!