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UK Gear’s training shoes were originally designed in association with the Royal Army Physical Training Corps (RAPTC). These elite fitness professionals were closely involved in the development and tested our products in some of the most inhospitable conditions on Earth. Only when approved by the Military do we consider our products... Built to survive.

Kitting out your feet for fitness

>>28 September 2004

Running shoes launched this month carry the Army logo and are the first commercial product to do so. How good are they, and what's the checklist for choosing the ideal pair of trainers?

A training shoe designed specifically to cope with the most gruelling conditions encountered by the armed forces could become this winter's fashion accessory or the seriously sporty. According to the Warwickshire-based sports company UK Gear, the PT-03 bootcamp trainer has been tested for six months on the toughest terrain by the Army - and it passed with flying colours.

"They were created with the help of some of the fittest people on the planet, the Army's fitness instructors," says David Hinde, one of the shoe's designers.

But members of the public who think their workouts are tough enough to require a sports shoe that will "stand up to anything" will soon be able to buy a pair of PT-03s, complete with the crossed swords of the Army and a Union Jack flag, for £79.

However rugged your exercise routine, whether you walk or sprint, the correct footwear is vital. So how do you find the right pair for you?

WALKING SHOES What to look for: Some cushioning is important, but support in the upper is essential. Decide where you are going to walk most; if it is on very rough terrain then invest in a pair of walking boots that offer ankle support and completely waterproof uppers. If you plane to stick to muddy trails and wooded tracks, then a pair lightweight walking or trail shoes with breathable, water-repellent uppers will more than suffice. If you plan to power walk on the treadmill or pavements, then a pair of jogging shoes will meet your demands.

What to avoid: Buying trainers that are too small is a common mistake which can play havoc with your body if you wear them a lot. They will simply constrict your toes and increase the risk of bruising your toenails and heels. Simon Bartold, a sports podiatrist at the University of South Australia, says: "In general you will need sports hoes that are a half-size bigger than your normal shoes.

"Always try on new trainers in the afternoon when your feet have swollen and, since your feet swell even more during exercise, wear a pair of socks when you are trying them on."

Ideally your heel should fit snugly into the cup and the fit should be just tight enough not to allow any movement up or down or from side to side when you walk.

Best Buys: 1. Merrell Chameleon (£70; www.merrell.com 01179 636363) 2. Asics Trabuco (£75; www.asics.co.uk) 3. Merrell Stormrider (£85)

JOGGING What to look for: Jogging and running shoes should bend on the ball, not the arch, of the foot, otherwise they provide too little support and put undue tension on the feet. They should have good arch support on the insole and the heel tabs should not be so high or hard that they dig into the Achilles tendons at the back of your ankles.

For an accurate fitting, visit a specialist running shop. Women are generally more prone to shoe-related problems than men, says Bartold, because most trainers are constructed to fit the wider male foot. Try to look for a shoe designed specifically for women wherever possible, because the narrower version will prevent your feet slipping from side to side.

What to avoid: Wearing old trainers. Remember that sports shoes have a shelf-life. Check to see whether there is any tread left on the sole - if the pattern has worn away completely, protection will be reduced. If the mid-sole - usually the white, spongier section of the shoe - is creased and flattened it means there isn't much support left for your feet and legs.

"They will last you between 120 and 200 miles," Bartold says. "After that, the cushioning and support becomes ineffective and the best place for them is the dustbin."

Best buys: 1. Asics Gel 2090 (£75) 2. Nike Women Zoom Miler (£70; www.nike.com) 3. Adidas Climacool 3 (£80; www.adidas.co.uk)

SERIOUS RUNNING What to look for: Running shoes are lightweight and more cushioned than other sports shoes. Since sunning is a sport that requires you o move forward only, less support is needed at the sides of the shoe, so the uppers are less sturdy.

Rob Spedding, deputy editor of Runner's World magazine, says serious runners who cover more than 30-40 miles a week should expect to spend around £70-£80 on a pair of trainers. "Paying double that usually means you are splashing out on gimmicks," he warns.

There is plenty to choose from at the top end of the market, but visiting a specialist running shop to help you decide is paramount. Runners whose feet tend to roll inwards or outwards as they land may need extra support from an "anti-pronation" shoe, to prevent related injuries.

If you compete in competitive races of 10 miles or less, you may be wise to invest in a pair of ultra lightweight racing shoes for a comfortable ride. If you prefer to run off-road, a pair of trail runners with waterproof uppers and added grip on the soles are an excellent buy for the autumn.

What to avoid: For years it was argued that the more cushioning a running shoe offered, the better. Now it's thought that too much bounce in the sole is a bad thing. Although cushioning is important because your feet absorb the shock of three times your body weight with every stride, you can overdo it, with your feet wobbling out of control.

best buys: 1. Asics Gel Kayano (£110) 2. Nike Shox 2.45 (£80) 3. Adidas Adistar Control (£100)