Choosing a running shoe can seem like a very complicated affair. There are shoes designed to provide varying degrees of support and cushioning, shoes that are designed for heel strikers and forefoot strikers, minimalist shoes, racing shoes, road shoes and off-road shoes and shoes that cost under $20.00 to over $250.00!
Obviously you CAN run in regular workout shoes but they are not really designed for the job. If you want to run as well and be as comfortable as possible and reduce the chances of injury, it is best to invest in a good pair of running shoes.
The shoes you select to run in are a very personal choice and just because a shoe is expensive or packed with the latest in running shoe technology doesn’t mean it will be right for you. While many factors will affect your choice of shoe, it’s important to understand that your running style and gait are unique.
Consider these SIX guidelines whenever you head out to buy your new running shoes…
1. What is your foot type?
Are you neutral or normal, high-arched or low-arched? It’s easy to find out! Simply wet your feet and stand on a bath towel and look at your foot print.
A neutral or normal foot shows a strong curve from the big toe to the heel which means that, on landing, the foot happily rolls inward to absorb shock.
In comparison, a low arch is already on its way to rolling inward so there is less of a defined arch in the footprint. Also known as flat foot, this is the foot type most likely to suffer running-related injuries of the feet, ankles and knees.
A high-arched foot results in a very narrow footprint from heel to toe as the foot is already rolling outward. This places a lot of stress on the outside of the foot as well as on the outside of your ankles and knees.
2. Choose the right shoe for your foot
A neutral or normal arch suggests you are a normal pronator which means you’ll do best in a stability shoe made with extra durability and cushioning and that offers minimal pronation control. A more structured or controlling shoe will merely alter your gait unnecessarily.
A low-arched foot means you are better served wearing a motion-control shoe that will minimize excessive inward rolling of the foot. These shoes offer lots of support although all that engineering comes at the price of increased shoe weight. Runners with flat feet often suffer from over-pronation so they do well in a motion-control shoe that minimizes inward rolling of the foot.
Runners with high-arched feet usually under-pronate and do best in a neutral-cushioned shoe that allows for a natural foot motion. These have a soft midsole and curved or semi-curved shape and help prevent excessive outward rolling.
3. Check the size and fit of your shoes
Running shoes should fit snugly but not be too tight to be restrictive. If your shoes are too tight, you will just end up with painful blisters or damaged toenails. There should be half an inch of space in the shoe which is just enough room for your foot to swell during a run. The best shoes will keep your foot in place without being overly tight so that, when you run, your foot does not move around inside the shoe.
4. Try before you buy!
Walk, jog, and run in your prospective purchases to make sure they feel right on your feet. Many running shoe shops have treadmills for this very purpose. Wear your normal running socks and try the shoes on later in the day when your feet are at their biggest – they tend to swell as the day progresses. It goes without saying that you should ALWAYS try both shoes on and not just one. Most people have one foot slightly larger than the other. Buy your shoes to fit your bigger foot.
5. Don’t be a fashion victim
When it comes to buying your new foot-chariots, think function and not style. Don’t feel you have to buy the latest and greatest running shoes on the market – you’ll do far better if you get the most comfortable, well-fitting shoes that will help you to perform at your best. You should be able to get a good pair for £45-£80 at the most.
6. Nothing lasts forever
Remember, most running shoes have a lifespan of around 4-500 miles; less if you are especially heavy. The shock absorbing and supporting characteristics start to slowly degrade from the moment you run your first mile so even if your shoes look okay, they may well no longer be as supporting and cushioning you as they once were. Change your shoes as often as you need to but remember, if you find a shoe you really like then keep on buying it to avoid ending up with a shoe that doesn’t suit your requirements.
You and your running shoes are going to spend a lot of time together. They can be your best friend and make every run a pleasure or your worst enemy and make your running a nightmare. Take some time over selecting your running shoes and you may well save yourself miles of discomfort and the expense of having to buy new shoes to replace ones that weren’t right in the first place.