Any runner knows the importance of a good running shoe. There are hundreds of brands, styles, and “new” technology that claim you should be running in a minimal shoe or a shoe with high arch support. The key is knowing your feet and finding a shoe that compliments your strengths and weaknesses as a runner. Whether you’re a long time runner or training for your first 5K, your running shoes should be your best friend and partner in crime out on the trails.
Consider these tips as you’re scouring your local running store or searching the web for your next great running shoe. It always helps to talk to fellow runners and definitely don’t forget to utilize the team at the shoe store for their expertise. Once you find your preferred style and brand, it’s time to hit the pavement!
Determine your running gait
Go on a run with a friend and have them evaluate the way you naturally run. They’ll need to determine your pronation, which is how your foot hits the ground when you run. There are three types of pronation: underpronation, overpronation, and normal pronation. Underpronation is when you hit the ground with the outside of your feet as you run. Overpronation is when your feet roll inward and you hit the ground with the inside of your feet. Normal pronation means your whole foot hits the ground flat as you run.
Find out your shoe type
If you’re an underpronator, you’ll need neutral shoes with extra cushioning. You’ll notice that as you run, the outside edges of your soles get worn down first. If you’re an overpronator, you’ll need motion-control or stability shoes. When you run a lot, you’ll notice that the inside edges of your soles will get worn down first. If you’re a normal pronator, you’ll want to shop for neutral shoes as your foot doesn’t roll in either direction but hits the ground flat, bearing your weight across your full foot.
Decide how much cushioning you want
There are plenty of articles claiming the benefit of minimalist, barefoot shoes and those arguing that serious runners need plenty of cushion. This is one shoe factor you’ll need to decide for yourself. Do you like to feel the responsiveness of the road beneath your feet as you run? Go minimalist. If you like feeling laced up and secure, then choose a cushioned shoe. If you decide to go for the minimalist feel, then take time to get used to the style of the shoe. It uses more muscles in your feet and legs (which is great) but since your body won’t be used to that you’ll need to start slow.
Don’t go too small or too big
The fit of your running shoe is of the utmost importance. If you can, buy your shoe at your local running store so you can try the shoe on in person. If you like to buy online, be prepared to send the shoe back if the fit isn’t perfect. Make sure you have a half to a full thumb’s nail length between your big toe and the end of your shoe. This may mean you have to go up a half of a size, but you’ll know it’s worth it when you skip the blisters and black toenails.
Feel it out
This is when it really pays to buy your shoes in person rather than online. You may think you know your foot type and running style, but the shoe you choose may feel too narrow or too stable. You’ll want to hold out for a shoe that matches your foot’s natural contours and movements. Try on the shoes and go for a quick jog around the shoe store (some have a treadmill) or run around your living room to see if they feel natural on your feet.