Dr Derek Li is a family physician with Raffles Medical Group. He studied medicine at the University of Oxford, and subsequently did his housemanship in Singapore before joining Raffles Medical Group in 2011. His interest in endurance sports started in University where he was part of the XC and Triathlon teams, and he had a special interest in exercise and high altitude physiology during his pre-clinical studies. He started doing marathons in 2013, and has since done numerous overseas marathons including Boston, Berlin, Tokyo, London and NYC. He represented Singapore at the Macau International Marathon in 2014, and currently holds a personal best of 2:41, set at the 2017 Gold Coast Marathon in Australia.
Driven by advances in our understanding of human biomechanics and paralleled by improvements in materials engineering, running shoe designs have seen significant changes over the past few years. We have seen a move away from traditional EVA-based midsole materials toward the use of newer and more energetic TPU- and TPA-based compounds. In line with this, newer manufacturing processes have also allowed for better fine-tuning of ride characteristics through the shaping of the final product. Here we will examine how different brands approach the conundrum of improving running economy, while flirting with the IAAF regulations that govern their legality. Finally, no analysis of shoe technology is complete without a look at the incorporation of carbon fibre plates into the midsole, their impact on performance, and indeed their impact on injury trends in runners.