MARATHON LEGEND AND FIRST PHITS PIONEER PAULA RADCLIFFE – “MY PHITS SIMPLY DON’T WEAR OUT!”
LATE SUMMER, PAULA RADCLIFFE, WORLD RECORD HOLDER ON THE MARATHON (2.15.25), VISITED PHITS EXPERT RUNNER’S LAB NEAR ANTWERP (BELGIUM). OUR PHITS TEAM HAD THE HONOUR TO INTERVIEW PAULA, A TRUE PHITS PIONEER SINCE THE VERY BEGINNING.
Paula, you were one of the pioneers to run on 3D print Phits orthotics, you have been using them for over four years now. Are you still satisfied with the Phits orthotics?
Oh yes, very much. I still have the original pair, they last so well! When I come back to check here at the runner’s lab, they pretty much just need to recover the top cover and then they are good to go again. So I have two or three pairs and I switch them between the shoes and leave them in the ones that I am running and walking the most in.
That’s awesome, great to hear! You went through a lot of footscan examinations through the years. What do you as a runner still learn from a footscan analysis about your feet, about your gat, about your body in general?
It’s really interesting to get the chance to study and to see in slow motion how you run. Sometimes how you think you run, is not at all how you do. By seeing the footscan analysis, I think you become more in tune with your body. So I’ve been coming here since 1997 and I’ve seen how the orthotics themselves have evolved a lot. And now we have the Phits insoles…that’s a big step forward in durability I think, but also towards function and weight…and how easily it fits into your shoes.
If you look at the corrections that the Phits insoles give you, can you link this to what you see on the Footscan?
Yes, yeah, I can. But I think maybe because I’ve learned over the years and I’m interested in it. So when I come here and I run up and down, then immediately I go to the screens to check and to see. And it is a big difference. When I run barefoot, if I run in shoes without the insert and then if I put the insert in and run. You feel better in your body, but it’s nice to also see it confirmed on the images and on the Footscan.
How the corrections for my own orthotics evolved? I think my running style stayed pretty much the same. I had bunion surgery in 2009 and then we had to change around a little bit. And when I had my big foot surgery in 2013, they pretty much reconstructed my navicular area and then we changed the design a little bit again. You refer to the 2013 surgery. It was a multidisciplinary approach that got you back on your feet, that got you running again.
You refer to the 2013 surgery. It was a multidisciplinary approach that got you back on your feet, that got you running again. Did the Phits insoles play an important role in this process?
Absolutely. They were already important during recovery, but I think the insoles played the biggest role in enabling me to be able to get back to running and run the London Marathon one more time. You see, the original injury dates from 1994 when I had an nonunion stress fracture and Jempi (Wilssens, founder of runners’ lab and rs scan international) and the team helped me to get back running then with the orthotics and managed to help me throughout my whole career, but in 2012, it collapsed fully and I had a lot of arthritis and osteoarthritis, really a lot of damage in the joint. The doctors said they could fuse it, but then I could never run again. Then they said they’d try a big surgery with bone graft, with microfracturing the cartilage and a lot of repair work done and cleaning up. Maybe I could get back to running a little bit, maybe I couldn’t, but at least I wanted to try this. So I had the operation in August and I didn’t run anything until April of the following year, until then, it was only a lot of walking.
When I started running again, we created a different pair of orthotics, because when I walk I need a different Phits insole compared to when I’m running. After the walking I was able to gradually get back to running and then very gradually built up the training. Until sometime in 2014 when it started to become possible that I could run London one more time. And then even… I remember even six weeks before we were still changing little bits with the orthotics to make it okay for race day. And then on race day it was great. And you continued running ever since, a lot.
Do you wear Phits insoles for every run?
Yes! I never run without them, even for walking I use the insoles, they are always in my shoes. I don’t think I ran without my orthotics since 1997. And certainly since I got the Phits insoles, every run is done with them.
When you first heard about 3D printing for orthotics, were you surprised about this technology for orthopaedic devices?
I think I was indeed a little bit surprised, but when you see it and you’re able to experience how durable it is and how functional it is, it quickly becomes something that you get used to, something you expect in that part of your life. It’s interesting to see it in different areas now. If the children have hurt themselves and they go to hospital, they might end up with 3D printed splints. And now we see 3D printing actually being used to make the whole shoe, it’s so exciting. Can you describe the difference between the traditional orthotic and the Phits 3D printed orthotics you wear now? Well, the biggest thing is the durability. They simply don’t wear out! You can keep using them, you can run a lot of miles in them and they basically don’t show much damage at all. Only the top cover wears out and these are easily replaced. The rest, it stays there the whole time. And I think it’s more precise than the traditional orthotics. Because it’s exactly the same each time that it is created. And it is lighter. It doesn’t deform with heat and get as soft as with the traditional ones… Sometimes with the older ones, if it was very warm, they would built up, or they would get a hole or they would deform a little bit. The Phits insoles don’t do that.
Thank you so much for sharing your experiences with us!
Paula Radcliffe interview from Phits Facts magazine, November 2018.