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The history of running shoes
Around the Academy:

Discover the origins of the 'sneaker'
A brief history of the running shoe
In the last century, trainers have gone from rubber soled plimsolls to air cushioned, gel filled capsules worn as much for their looks as their sporting performance.

So how did we get there? Read on to find out.

Rubber sole

If you're looking for an early example of the running shoe, dig out an old pair of plimsolls and try them on for size.

The modern sole had a humble start
Vulcanisation is still used today

It was created from a newly developed process called vulcanisation - still in use today - which uses heat to meld rubber and cloth together.

Not only were they lightweight and comfortable, unlike other shoes they enabled the wearer to move around without being heard.

Because of this, they became known as 'sneakers', and in 1917 the Keds shoe company was set up to sell them to America.

Spikes race ahead

While Keds were the first to sell trainers on a mass scale, specialist running spikes had already been around for a long time.

An early Adidas shoe
Adi Dassler's early spike
In the late 1890s a British company called J.W. Foster and Sons (now known as Reebok) developed some of the earliest known running shoes with spikes in them.

The company's founder, Joseph William Foster, had a passion for running and wanted to develop a shoe that would help increase his speed. The running spike was born.

In 1925 a German, named Adi Dassler (no prizes for guessing what he called his company!) took spikes a step further.

Dassler created a range of shoes with hand forged spikes, with different shoes for different distances. He used state of the art materials to make them as light as possible.

Rubber revolution
Trainers take off

Trainer trivia
In the USA, around 350 million pairs of sports shoes are bought every year
When you run, your feet hit the ground around 800 times every mile
In the past 13 years, around 13 million pairs of trainers have been recycled
The shoes are ground down to become sports courts, tracks and playing surfaces

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