Lakes Ice - March/April 2013
Lacing Tips For Running Shoes
Here are a few tips that will help you get the most out of your running shoes whether you’re running on road, off road, fell running or orienteering.
The Sling System
Most running shoes come with two laces holes at the top. One is positioned where you would normally expect it to be, at the apex of the upper. The second hole is positioned just past the apex on the ankle side.
The Sling system utlising the top two lace holes.
If you thread your laces through the second hole in the normal way you will find that the laces cut into the front of your ankle. Consequently many people just ignore the second hole, not knowing what it's for.
The way to utilise both holes is by a kind of loop/sling system. This has the advantage of pulling the upper in from the direction of the heel, which in turn gives a closer fit and more support. Because the top of the lacing is coming off the middle of the loop between the to holes, the laces don’t dig into the front of your ankle while the loop provides the angle to be able pull the upper in from the heel.
I've been using this system for a long time and I have even created an extra loop in any shoes that don’t come with one. If you are doing any off road running, and particularly fell running or orienteering this system is highly recommended.
Taped laces threaded down through the lacing system.
Arguably, if your road running a regular overhand knot will work well enough, but if you are running off road, vegetation, mud and general hard going are going to conspire to loosen your laces before very long.
There are a couple of systems that can be used to prevent your laces coming undone.
The Booth Knot: This is pretty simple in that it merely requires an extra turn on the usual overhand knot that you would tie in lace loops. The downside is that these knots can be very difficult to undo when muddy and wet.
Tape up: This system is regularly used by orienteers who spend most of the time running through rough undergrowth and forest. You can tie your laces with an overhand knot but then take a length of insulating tape, about 7cm to 10cm, and wrap both loops and ends into one bunch. Once secured, if the resulting bunch is a bit long thread it down through your laces to keep it out of the way. This system has never failed for me and I prefer it over the Booth Knot for ease of use.
The key to the Sawtooth System is get it right at the start. Notice how the right hand lace loops up through the next hole up to create the diagonal pattern.
Most people use the Criss Cross system. This works well most of time, being quick and easy to tighten and loosen. If you want vary tension in your laces however, you may want to consider a more sophisticated system.
The Sawtooth system has all of the underlying lacing sections pulling at an angle, which shifts the alignment of the upper and allows you vary tension from top to bottom. This can be useful if you have an injury or a bunion for example. Another use would be if your shoes have stretched too much in the toe box and you really want to crank the laces up in that area while maintaining normal tension over the arch of the foot.
The Sawtooth System finished with the Sling System at the top.
Last but not least, get some good laces. By that I mean laces that are soft, knot well and don’t slip in use.
Look for loosely woven tubular laces, preferably nylon rather than polyester. The latter polishes up quickly and come undone easily. It may be difficult to establish what your laces are made off prior to purchase, but an easy way to check is to pull a lace out and drop it in a bowl of water. If it floats its polyester, if it sinks its nylon.
Flat cotton laces work reasonably well, but they can be difficult to undo and are not as durable as nylon.
- Ian’s Shoelace Site has everything you will ever need to know about lacing systems. The Criss Cross and the Swatooth System have clear diagrams and instructions.
- Runners World have an article ‘How To Lace Your Shoe’.
- This video makes a meal of tying the Booth Knot.
- This Video demonstrates the Sling/Loop System.