5 Critical Steps To Buying Running Shoes
Five Critical Factors When Buying Running Shoes
Buying Running Shoes – Keeping It Simple
Buying the correct running shoes is critical. Running in a comfortable shoe, that supports the way your footfalls, and the terrain you run on etc. will help save you from pain and injury. This article sets out some of the main considerations when buying the correct running shoe. N.B. The article does not include buying barefoot/minimalist running shoes which will be covered in a separate article.
When buying your running shoes your best bet is to go to a specialist running store where they will be better placed to provide you with the advice you need. The best stores are likely to have a more liberal return policy. Others may only permit you to return shoes if you have only worn them indoors, but not outdoors. Best ask. You can also speak to members of the local running clubs or podiatrist.
Five Factors To Consider When Buying Your Running Shoes
One. Wear A Running Shoe That Was Developed Specifically For Running
Why? Running involves a very specific and repetitive movement of the foot, from heel to toe and repeatedly bouncing your whole body weight up and down. Running shoes need to have the right grip and traction. Or put another way…
“Running shoes have no lateral stability built into them because you don’t move your feet laterally when you run. You’re only going forward. A running shoe is built to give you support and stability as you move your foot through the running gait cycle.” Joe Puleo, Running Anatomy.
The same is true of many other sports including basketball and tennis which do have lateral stability built into them.
Two. Understand How Your Foot Pronates
Pronation describes the slight inward rolling motion that the foot makes during a normal walking or running stride. Understanding how our feet pronate is the most common way that running shoes are fitted today.
You may well hear different terminology being used but ultimately there are 3 main ways the foot rolls.
- First is ‘Neutral’ or ‘Basic’ i.e. your foot lands on the outside of the heel and rolls inwardly slightly to absorb shock. Neutral runners are the most bio-metrically efficient and typically require a ‘Neutral’ running shoe.
- Second is ‘Over-pronation’ i.e. your foot rolls excessively inwards after the heel strike. Over-pronation is very common and affects the majority of runners (like me). Over-pronators can suffer from knee pain and injury and will likely require ‘Motion Control’ or ‘Stability’ running shoes. I wear Brooks Beasts which have been fantastic.
- Third is ‘Under-pronation’ or ‘Supination’ i.e. you land on the outside of your foot after your heel strike. Under-pronation is less common and they typically require ’Cushioned’ shoes with plenty of flexibility.
Three. Comfort Is Critical
Experts are increasingly pointing to comfort being the single most important factor when buying a running shoe. There are a number of factors to consider here.
- Be Open Minded About Your Foot Size And Width. Shoe sizes and widths vary among different manufactures and even from one model to another. Use your normal shoe size and width as a guide only.
- Try On Your Shoes When You Have A Good Walk/Run Or Towards The End Of The Day. Your feet will swell a bit during the day’s activities and will be at their largest after a walk/run so you will get a better fit.
- Leave A Little Room Beyond Your Big Toe. The width of your running shoe should be comfortable and snug. Leave a little room beyond your toes so that your foot can move without rubbing. You should be able to wiggle your toes.
- Cut Your Toenails. Sounds like overkill but this can make a difference to the overall comfort of the shoes. If your toenails are too long when you run they will push against the front of the running shoe (go black and fall off!!).
- Ensure Your Heel Is Secure. Tighten the lace (starting at the toe end) so that your heel is secure and cannot move – other wise you will get blisters when you run. Laces should be tied snugly but not so tight as to cut your circulation off!
- Finally, If You Wear Orthotics, Bring Them Along. They will affect the fit of a shoe.
Four. If Your Socks Don’t Fit Then Your Running Shoes Won’t Either.
I suppose it s obvious in a way but you need to ensure that you try your running shoes on with the socks that you will be wearing when you run. Many of specialists running stores have plenty of socks you can try on the day. If all else fails, simply buy a pair in the store.
Five. Consider Aftermarket Insoles/Footbeds.
Don’t assume that the insoles that come with your running shoes are the best for you. There are ranges of aftermarket insoles that can reduce injury as well as enhance comfort, support and/or fit. Again, most specialist running stores will hold a range of insoles/footbeds. This article by REI provides more information: Insoles: How to Choose.
Running Shoes Shelf Life
Expensive as they are – running shoes only have a shelf life of 300-500 miles, perhaps even less if you are heavier runner, or run on rough terrain.
“The biggest mistake people make when they start running, jogging, or some other exercise program is just reaching into the closet and pulling out an old pair of sneakers.” Tracie Rogers, PhD, American Council on Exercise.
You just need to keep a simple log and check your shoes regularly for wear and tear. Apps like Strava let you list all your trainers and you will allow you to track which shoes you used for which run.