When I used to do the high jump, I was known for wearing two different shoes. I would wear a normal all-round running spike on my non-jumping foot and I would wear a high jump spike on my jumping foot. Prior to wearing two different shoes, I only wore the normal running spikes to jump in. I had been able to clear 1.95m by only wearing running spikes.
I tried to jump in high jump shoes in the first major competition at my school in 1998. After being tipped to win, I lost due to not being able to run correctly in the shoes and messing up my run-up. I was devastated. But I promised that I would come back and that’s when I decided to pursue a more comfortable option.
Originally, two different shoes started with one high jump shoe going to one of my fellow athletes (Shout out to Josh Mann, my old school high jump colleague) and we would wear each of the shoes on our respective jumping foot.
I used the other shoe to maintain my comfort and stride pattern.
The way that high jump shoes are made is that they are quite flat and many of them have a high arch in the foot. For those people that aren’t used to running in those types of shoes, it is actually quite difficult and it makes it challenging to maintain your natural running stride when you are approaching the bar.
There are coaches that will tell you that it isn’t ok to wear two different shoes when doing the high jump. But I can tell you from my experience that I managed to win 1 national championship and one international championship by wearing one high jump spike and one running spike. I managed to achieve my personal best height of 2.06m with this unique combination.
You can even look at Ivan Ukhov, the Russian high jumper who has cleared 2.40m simply by wearing normal running spikes. It’s not the shoes that maketh the jumper, but what the jumper can do with the shoes.
At the end of the day, you need to decide what feels more comfortable and what will suit your jumping style. Some high jumpers can clear amazing heights with just normal spikes. While others might struggle with the traditional high jump shoe. And if you fall into the latter category, then you should consider the two-shoes option.
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