What to consider when buying running shoes?
20 May, 2019 • by Emma Spearing • Running • Tips • Popular
Everyone has different preferences when it comes to running shoes. The perfect shoe for me, may not feel the same to you.
The best shoe for you is going to be the one that feels best while you’re running. This makes sense intuitively and research has proven it to be true. But we often ignore it, preferring to trust marketing, or our running buddy, or what has worked in the past, or a well-meaning salesperson. There is no substitute for testing shoes as you will use them: on the run, at multiple speeds. Your shoes should feel like an extension of your body.
You yourself know what you want from a shoe – whether it is lightweight, support, cushioning or just a comfortable fit. You are going to be logging hundreds of miles in it, you’d want to make sure they are the right shoes for you. Here are some things to take note of before buying your next pair of shoes
Better know running shoe categories
- Road running: designed for pavement and occasional forays onto packed surfaces with slight irregularities. Light and flexible, they're made to cushion or stabilize feet during repetitive strides on hard, even surfaces.
- Trail running: designed for off-road routes with rocks, mud, roots or other obstacles. Enhanced with aggressive tread for solid traction and fortified to offer stability, support and underfoot protection.
- Cross training: designed for gym or Crossfit workouts or any balance activity where having more contact with the ground is preferred over a thick platform sole.
Set a budget
When it comes to running shoes, a higher price tag usually correlates with more technology and comfort features, but that doesn’t mean you have to buy the most expensive shoes in order to enjoy a run. In a similar vein, opting for a very inexpensive pair may mean that the shoes aren't designed with running in mind and may not hold up to the demands that running places on them.
Quality running shoes generally range in price from about $100 to $250. You should expect to pay in the $110 to $150 price range for running shoes that are very well suited to most runners’ daily needs.
Pronation is the rolling of the foot from heel to toe through the foot strike. A proper or neutral foot strike pattern is initially striking with the outside of the heel and moving up to the ball of your foot evenly. This is how your foot reduces the stress of impact.
- Severe overpronation: when your heel strikes the ground first and then rolls inward excessively, typically someone with a flat foot or severely low arch, best type is a motion control shoe.
- Mild overpronation: when the outside of the heel strikes first and the foot then rolls inward slightly absorbing the shock, typically someone with a low to medium arch and they should choose a stability shoe.
- Neutral: If you have a neutral gait, the middle/slightly outward part of the heel strikes first and the foot rolls inward slightly absorbing the shock, best type is a neutral cushioning shoe.
- Underpronation (supination): Someone who supinates, strikes the ground with the outside of their heel first and instead of rolling inward, stays on the outside of their foot through the entire foot strike. This inhibits the foot's ability to absorb the impact of the foot strike. This is typically someone with a higher arched foot and should choose a neutral cushioning shoe as well.
Consider following popular brands
There are dozens of brands out there churning out quality shoes these days, and it would be impossible to mention them all – but there are a few brands that have unwavering popularity and have came up time and time again
How often to change
Running shoes have a lifespan. Shoes wear and tear over time, and so does the cushioning and support your shoes have to offer. This is why you should always replace your running shoes. How often you should replace them depends on a number of following factors:
- Mileage: your shoes have a lifespan of 600 – 800 kilometers.
- Terrain: your shoes will wear out faster if you are running on the road all the time as compared to running on a cross-country terrain
- Bodyweight: a heavy runner puts their running shoes through more stress and work
Avoid common buying mistakes
You are so excited to get new running shoes, or you are too eager to pick up from a flash sale or having someone buy for you. Please consider following common mistakes to get a long lasting comfortable pair of shoes
- Buying for looks: too concerned with fashion
- Not asking for deals: ask if there are any discounts available for running club members
- Buying shoes that are too small: tight-fitting shoes lead to blisters and black toenails and that kind of thing
- Shopping at the wrong time of day: your feet start swelling in the morning and they don’t stop until about 4 p.m, always buy your shoes in the evening
- Assuming your size: please have your feet measured every time you buy, and always try the shoes on for fit
Fit tips for your perfect shoes
- Foot size: Shoe lasts (which determine shoe sizes) vary by manufacturer and even from one shoe model to another. You may need a half-size or even a full size smaller or larger than you think. If you're unsure, have your feet measured.
- Try on shoes at the end of the day. Your feet normally swell a bit during the day's activities and will be at their largest then. This helps you avoid buying shoes that are too small.
- Aim for a thumbnail's length of extra space in the toebox. The width should be snug but allow a bit of room for your foot to move without rubbing. Laces should be snug but not tight. Barefoot shoes are an exception: Heel and toes should “fit like a glove” without any extra space in the toes.
- If you wear orthotics, bring them along. They impact the fit of a shoe.
- Consider aftermarket insoles (a.k.a. footbeds). Insoles come in models that can enhance comfort, support or fit
Now that you know what you’re looking for in a running shoe, it’s time to get out there and buy a pair. If you follow these simple tips when looking for a new running shoe, not only will you avoid an overwhelming shopping experience, but you will have a shoe that fits your specific needs and will make running that much more enjoyable!
Finally, trust yourself. I am saying this as a person who reviews shoes quite frequently. As much as someone else may ‘love’ or ‘dislike’ a shoe, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you will have the same opinion on it. You have to wear what works for you, not for the guy across the street.
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