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The difference between GRIP and TRACTION

GRIP – By Friction, the ability to cling onto a surface.

TRACTION – The ability to pull or draw something along.


In essence GRIP is just the ability to cling to stuff.

While TRACTION is the resistance against sliding, when being pulled at (usually while under load).


Grip works when materials are able to stick on mere contact alone, but Traction adds the ability to pull against something and have it stay fixed in place when the Grip might otherwise fail.

And so where running shoes are concerned –

There are sticky rubber outsoles.  And there are harder, more plastic outsoles.

The softer, stickier stuff clings a lot more on contact with the ground, but suffers a lot more wear for being so soft.

The harder/tougher ones take a lot more abuse, but will perhaps fail to cling in wet or uneven areas.

When it comes to off-road running, the ability to stick is still very useful, but it’s more important to keep your feet where you put them (to not have them slide in any direction), so you need some texture under foot, which will allow the shoes to grab into the surface and hold when pulled against.

Sticky rubber pulled across wet grass still tends to slip and slide.  But teeth along the underside of the shoes mean they’ll sink into the mud, gravel, grass, sand, etc and stay in place when you push off.  This is traction in action.

A lot of road shoes have an almost entirely flat underside, allowing maximum contact across the surface of the shoe, for maximum friction –  enhanced by soft sticky rubber when required.  But these same shoes, even with sticky rubber here or there, will slide when used on wet or lose gravelly areas.

Above: inov-8 Road Talon 240 shoes with strategically placed rubber pads, for grip where the foot ought to make brief contact


So smooth for hard flat surfaces… Toothy for anything else.

There are plenty of shoes which offer a low, flat stud for road and easy trails.  There are some which feature much longer, narrower studs, which compromise friction on the flat, in favour of grabbing into softer ground.

Knowing where you’re going to run most of the time and what kind of footwear might suit, makes a huge difference when attempting to move successfully over any particular area.

Depth of cushion is for comfort.  It’s protective against impact.  But it won’t make you a better runner and it won’t stop you slipping when you push uphill, or on the flat.  Nor will it save you from a fall, if you commit to a downhill without sufficient purchase under foot.

Grip then, comes from materials and their nature.  How ‘sticky’ they are when placed on a variety of surfaces.

Traction comes from the design and arrangement of the teeth.  All teeth facing the same way for forwards movement.  In all directions for all-round traction over uneven ground.  Reversed studs at the heel for traction on downhills.  There are plenty of shoes with a mixture of directional studs, for use on hard and soft ground combined.

A few shoes feature such things as metal tips for use on wet mossy rocks, tree roots, fallen limbs or perhaps ice on occasion.  Some have glass fibres in flat studs for use on ice alone.

Some try to cater for a bit of everything, but by their nature, fail to excel in any particular area, when measured against a dedicated shoe which is more niche, but more fit for purpose.

Grip versus Traction is a never ending battle.  Which is why companies produce such a range of shoes.

It’s also why the staff at Accelerate and the runners we support, own what we refer to as a ‘tool box of shoes’.  Since we almost always know what we’ll need on any given run and the footwear that might best provide it.

Grippy shoes with plenty of traction include:  inov-8 Mudclaw 300, which has one of the stickier, grippier rubber outsoles, but also a conical stud which sheds mud more easily to maintain the traction when the mud threatens to fill up the gaps.

Above: the inov-8 Mudclaw 300 with its sticky, yet deep conical studs for combined traction and grip


inov-8 X-Talon 212/230/200, which is still very sticky, but with narrower studs, more distanced, so more effective against grass, which can cause broad studs to slide, despite their depth.

Scott Supertrac Ultra RC, which has a long narrow stud configuration, in zig zags with studs along the edges of the shoes to prevent the collaps that teeth alone can cause when they bend under load.  More friction for multi terrain including road and flagstones, but again, less effective when used in mud and grass.

Saucony Peregrine, which offers a 50/50 split between studs and gaps under foot, but with the addition of a deep midsole which provide a road shoe comfort on hard trails and tarmac.

There really isn’t a shoe which rlies entirely on grip.  And there’s little gain in having a shoe with traction if it slides off everything remotely firm that it comes into contact with.

Cross Country Spikes are among the least grippy things you’ll ever come across, but with up to 15mm of steel spike protruding, you’ll hardly find a better source of traction on flat mud and grass.

Steep terrain demands that you be able to attach yourself to the rocks and roots, the grass and mud and everything else that poses a risk as you hurtle downhill at speed.  So less spike, more stud, with grippier materials which will momentarily allow you to put your foot down and trust it as you focus on where to place the other.

Road shoes require more friction, with almost all of the shoe against the floor for maximum traction, so long as it’s made from something which grips all the same.


For a full description of how different stud arrangements can provide traction on a variety of surfaces, read my previous guide here






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31st British & Irish Masters Cross Country Int’ Champs – by Dot Kesterton

Dot Kesterton is no stranger to BUZZ, with plenty of experience, teaching runners half her age how it’s done!

Running for #TeamAccelerate, as well as Sheffield’s Steel City Striders & her local ladies club ‘Smiley Paces’ – she competes within the V60 category (outdoing many in the V50 & V40) and runs like she means it.







31st British and Irish Masters Cross Country International Championships
17th November 2018, Singleton Park, Swansea, Wales.

Report by Dot Kesterton

In the 1967 Cross Country season I was chosen to represent my school, Sir Wilfrid Martineau School in the All Birmingham Cross Country Championships. I set off full of hope and belief in myself, ran a good race and came in as runner-up. I was overjoyed.

Then I was disqualified.

My friend had dropped out early in the race, waited for me and jogged back into the school with me. The disqualification was for ‘pacing.’ I had no idea what pacing was or that I’d broken any rules. To compound my misery the Birmingham newspapers covered the race including my disqualification.

I was 15 years old and athletics was run by officious jobsworths who treated me as if I was a cheat.

I didn’t run competitively again until 2010 when I retired from teaching.

Last Saturday, 51 years after that awful day, I was selected to run for England. I lined up with the best of the British and Irish Masters at a Home International race in Singleton Park, Swansea.  So it was teams from England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and Republic of Ireland.

The women’s course was 6K over 3 laps and the men’s 8K over 4 laps. . The weather could not have been kinder. It was warm, sunny and still. The going was generally good though in places wet and muddy. It was 314’ elevation in total.

I’d been battling a sore throat and ear infection for a few days before the race but knew I had to give it my all so, dosed up with paracetamol I tussled with the front-runners for a good start position and went off with the gun. It took a few moments to find my pace, dodging elbows and weaving runners. Then it was dig in and give this one everything I’d got for a result.

I tried not to blow up too soon and though breathing was laboured towards the end I held my position to win bronze (28:23) behind Yuko Gordon of England (27:34) and Ann Murray of Scotland (28:03).

My F65 team, Yuko Gordon, Penny Forse, Ros Tabor and I won gold as did the English women and men overall.

Mark McKinstry, M35 of Northern Ireland stormed through to win the men’s title in 25:10 and Teresa Doherty, F40 Ireland 6K in 21:19.

This was my debut as a home international. I’m very happy that at last I have had a chance to run as I should have been allowed to run half a century ago.

I now have to shake off my cold, rest and come back strong to take on the mantle again.

Full result available from the British Masters website.

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BP – Before Power


Running Power… go on then what do you think this actually means?

Power, is nothing new in sporting terms as cyclists have been developing this as a means of training to a high level for some time.  In running it is still very much in its infancy.

Garmin have had an app for a while yet the real pioneers have been Stryd.  When heart rate first came along back in the 80’s and into the 90’s it was a different story.  Take your average sports watch and add in heart rate – away you go.

Then speed and distance came along and really took over as a means of training for many a runner.

So before we even look at ‘Training with Power’, in this entry – let’s take a step back and review what we have today.  And how that fits with improving your fitness.


Heart Rate:

The precise measurement of your heart rate started with an ECG accurate chest strap. They could in fact measure more than just your beats per minute, also the time difference between each beat to help tell you the impact your training was having on your cardio fitness and then your state of recovery – but only from a cardio point of view.
The only reliable way to determine your training zones has never been through some formula but from a Lactate Test or to see a coach who knows how to interpret your racing heart rate trace.

The key thing with heart rate is that it is an accurate ‘rev counter’, giving you a true and precise picture of how hard you are working.  Heart rate does lag behind your activity.  More so the fitter you are – a real problem for short distance runners, especially sprint specialists.

You will notice it most as you change your speed and your heart rate takes a moment to catch up with your increasing effort – often referred to as heart rate ‘lag’.
So training with heart rate is a response to the work you do and it is still the closest we’ve had to monitoring actual workload for years.

In so many ways it is still the most important parameter for accurate and successful training development, especially in moving through the aerobic (process requiring free oxygen/breathing) and anaerobic (operating without use of free oxygen/utilising alternative fuel sources within the body) energy systems – whilst minimising injury risk and over training.

Old School… Heart rate and timing device. The Polar Vantage XL sitting on its docking station having its memory read and uploaded to your Windows 3.1 PC.


This is nothing more than an output of the work you put in.  A measurement of how quickly you cover distance within a unit of time.  It makes no allowance for your state of fatigue (running slower as you go – probably at a higher heart rate than normal).
It is a tool for comparison, not really something to train by – well for most of the time.


Like speed this is again nothing more than an output.  How far you ran for a given unit of time.  In truth, like speed, it’s great to know, yet on any given day we should always be asking ourselves, ‘Can I keep this effort up for the given distance, or time?’.  So there’s ‘Effort’ and using heart rate as a rev counter to help with this.  Altitude, falls into this bracket too.

Heart rate training has a massive benefit over training to speed, especially for ‘recovery’ and ‘aerobic’ into ‘tempo’ runs.

Many still shy away from utilising heart rate training…  But here’s the thing… ‘Cardiac Drift’.  You run to a set speed for ‘aerobic’ benefit, so nothing too taxing, you are out of breath, but still talking. As you run, you fatigue.  Your heart rate climbs and you become increasingly ‘anaerobic’ in you run.  Here, fatigue levels and post run recovery are both exponentially increasing.  As you become more anaerobic your body is attempting to force you back into an aerobic state, it is after all happiest and safest there.

If you had run to heart rate, then as you fatigued you would have only slowed down.  Less fatigue and much less recovery time, which has to be a good thing.  Both the science and anecdotal evidence clearly show that the point at which you slow down in order to maintain heart rate is pushed further and further away when you train to specific training zones.  And if that is the case, then speed is maintained for longer – so your average speed is shown as a much higher output, which is something we all would like.

All sounds pretty good, plenty of information at our finger tips and some very smart ways of training.

But heart rate as a training tool can so easily be better understood.  With Heart Rate levels being pretty unique to the individual and working out training zones often discussed as ‘hit and miss’.  By seeking out a little help and advice, the rewards of training by utilising your own personalised heart rate training zones is very well documented and for those who do, the rewards and improvements speak for themselves.

So to add to the above, we are seeing the introduction of ‘Running Power’ as a measurement.

Is it just another statistic/output – or is it actually something we can (like the cyclists) use, as with time or effort level, to train by?

A very good question.  One which I am still to answer in the entries to follow.

The New Polar Vantage V and M. With both the ‘V’ and ‘M’ comes a massive step up in wrist based heart rate accuracy but also Power with the ‘V’.


If I have your attention – the next part of this post will take a look at ‘Running Power’ as a true metric versus being an output…

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  • (Biology) the process of change by which an organism or species becomes better suited to its environment.
  • the surroundings or conditions in which a person, animal, or plant lives or operates.


Ladies and Gentlemen… here’s a hard truth – RUNNING IS HARD WORK.

It’s so often overlooked.  But it is a fact.  We are organisms.  We react over time to our surroundings and more importantly, as runners, we respond to the demands of our environment.

If you sit still for 7 days a week, you can become world class at sitting still.  Your body takes note of your ‘environment’ and for efficiency, simply doesn’t waste time trying to be race ready just in case.

We’re way beyond outrunning lethal predators.  We no longer run to score food.  If there appears to be no need, there’s no ability.

No strength.  No circulation.  No form.  No recovery.

Doesn’t matter which movie you just saw.  Which blog (cough) you just read.  Inspiration matters not one jot – if you don’t allow the body to develop natuarally over time.

If a machine can’t perform at the required level, we build a better machine.  Swap a component.  Design a stronger machine from sctratch.  Use a more powerful fuel.

As organisms, we can’t do this.  We have to make slow gradual changes, learning how best to adapt while avoiding damage.

You have to maintain the process.  Your body will begin to adapt to a sedentary lifestyle the moment it can.  You can’t store fitness for long.  Your body doesn’t keep it on the back burner.

No training – no performance.  Over training – injury.  Slow gradual influence and constant requirement for little/often – gradual increase in performance.  Full stop.

Increase when you should.  Take note of the feedback your body gives you.  Understand your own individual strengths/weaknesses.

And perhaps most importantly – remember that no product can do this for you.  Running shoes and equipment make the PROCESS more fun, but they will not do the running for you.

Anything claiming otherwise is lies.




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(Don’t) know your limits! Go for it!!!

So, I’m an experienced runner. I’ve been running for about 10 years now, and with 5 marathons under my belt, I should be pretty confident. Should!
My running was initially road, hardcore training watching pace per mile and pounding the streets. Then I think I just got bored chasing the seconds and wanted a new challenge…along came trail running. Without doubt the new love of my life where running is about fresh air and freedom.
Sunday 28th October (as I write this, yesterday) was a whole new thing for me. I ran the Woodhead Mountain Rescue Grin n Bear It fell race, supported by Accelerate. I had contemplated it a few times, but then shied away from it. To seasoned fell runners, this probably seems a bit daft. However, I realised that I moved from road to trails and stayed within my safe trail zone: easy routes, fully waymarked and nothing too technical. This Grin n Bear It was a proper fell race, 16 miles of peat bogs, swampy grass, hills, mud, scrambling and requiring navigation. Not going to lie, I was nervous before hand.
It would have been really easy to back out, say I wasn’t fit enough or ready for the race, but I didn’t.. Okay, it wasn’t my fastest race. I wasn’t in the top 20% of finishers, but I’m pleased but I achieved something even better. I pushed myself out of my comfort zone, exposed conditions, extreme ground and tested out new kit. I BLOOMING LOVED IT! I’m up for the next challenge

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