Finding the best-fitting shoe among the many choices at your local running store isn’t always easy, and if you make a bad choice, it could turn you off from running, or contribute to an injury!
If you’re a first time runner, or haven’t had luck in the past, I’ve created a guide based on expert research, as well as a lifetime of competitive distance running. So before you dive into the thousands of online reviews – knowing what to look for will make you much more likely for happy feet success.
- Buy Shoes that are meant for Running
Yes, there are shoes developed specifically for running, and running only!
in theory you can run barefoot and you can run in stilettos and you might have some basketball, tennis or walking shoes already at home. And while these shoes may be ok for the odd run here and there, if you are looking to pick up running, maximize the enjoyment, and stay injury free: the best investment you can make is a good pair of running-specific shoes.
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. The right shoes need to have the right support, grip and traction, they need to allow your feet to breathe, and they need to be comfortable over the long distance.
I could be talk for hours explaining why shoes meant for other sports are dangerous while you use them for running – but just trust me on this one: buy a running specific shoe and you’ll never look back.
- A High Quality Running Shoe is worth the investment
I am the ultimate ‘frugal-ista’ when it comes to buying things like this for myself. But this is something, even my very financially conservative father has told me from the time I was a very little girl: ‘Invest in expensive running shoes, but don’t pay a lot’.
Marketing aside, premium materials and long design/testing processes, do cost more money. And in many cases the difference is significant.
Better foam or cushioning material, better shoe construction and materials will make the shoe last longer, provide better support, and will make it more comfortable on your foot, thus making running more enjoyable and minimizing your risk of injury.
Although expensive materials will not automatically make a shoe more comfortable, cheap ones will definitely deliver hell-ish experience.
All good shoes go on sale, I recommend buying last seasons from online – ex. Check out best model of years past – since there are “old models” they will be less expensive, but the quality is the same.
I still order the same running shoe I wore and love from 2012, even though there have been at least 10-15 updates by now!
3. The MOST Important thing to look for: FIT!
Ever walked in a super uncomfortable stiletto at a ‘long party’, or a shoe half a size too small? NOT FUN, in fact, that ‘uncomfortable shoe’ is capable of ruining a night out if you have no option to change them or sit down!
Now just imagine that times 100% when you are running! Plus it
S actually downright dangerous!
Here are the ‘go-to’ tips Runners World Magazine provides to you when looking at shoes:
Here are some tips:
- Make sure the heel is securely locked in. Try lacing the shoe so that the heel is well secured but not so tight that you can’t wiggle your toes.
- Leave half a centimeter “empty” over the big toe. Your foot swells during exercise and you need to allow some space for the foot to grow.
- Lace it tight enough for your foot not to wiggle inside it, but it should be possible for you to do so without cutting your circulation off.
- Breathability. Most running shoes feature a mesh material on the top to allow your foot to breathe
4. Minimalist Shoe or Supportive Shoe?
There are two arguments, which I could debate for hours:
One is that running is a high-impact sport that is dangerous for your joints, you need a shoe that cushions your impact and maybe guides your gait to an anatomically correct one.
Therefore experts came out with designing running shoes between “cushioning” (or “neutral”) and “stability”. Cushioning shoes are recommended for runners with high arches and/or underpronation issues (see here). Stability shoes are recommended for runners with low arches and/or overpronation issues
In the past 5 years, a new current of thought, called “minimalism” (and barefoot running, in its most extreme incarnation), developed (mostly following the influence of the book “Born to Run” by Christopher McDougall).
This new wave of debaters argue that the running shoes industry had it wrong all along: heavily cushioned or stable shoes are against nature. A shoe should be as close to barefoot as possible (minimal) so the body will naturally get stronger and you’ll not be dependent on a shoe anymore to tell you how to run.
So -> who is right ? Unfortunately there is not a real scientific answer to this question yet. Personally, if you run on pavement or any hard surface, we as humans have evolved and no longer run simply away from animals or to hunt food. We run for distance and fitness – I would never recommend barefoot running, but the choice is yours.
Try different things out, our bodies are all different. What’s comfortable for you may be terrible for someone else and vice versa.
Here is my personal ’round-up’ of favorite picks right now:
It’s like kissing frogs, you may have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your ‘Shoe Charming’.
Have personal favorites for your shoes or have a special tip for certain types of obstacles (flat feet, high arches?) let me know in the comments below!
Have running friends, or someone who frequents running injuries, share this with them! The first culprit I ask when people experience injuries is to question their shoes!