So you’re getting ready to train for your next marathon or a charity fun run. Maybe your old shoes have broken and you need something. The thing is, when you’re not used to buying running shoes, it can sometimes be a little difficult to know where to start. What things do you need to look for to ensure that you are comfortable and productive on your run?
Buying the perfect set of running shoes doesn’t need to be difficult. All you need to know is a few key bits of information to make an informed decision. Once you know everything that you need to know, you will be all set to have a comfortable running experience.
But let’s start at the very beginning. Here’s our ultimate guide to finding the best running shoes.
Table of Contents
- The Importance of Finding The Best Running Shoes
- Figure out the type of surface you’re running on
- Get your gait analyzed
- Determine the length of your run
- Remember to test before purchasing
- Function over fashion
- It’s time to find the best running shoes!
- 4 Additional Quick Tips For Finding The Perfect Running Shoe
The Importance of Finding The Best Running Shoes
First of all, you may be wondering why it’s even important to buy the best running shoes. After all, it’s just a pair of shoes right? Surely you can just buy any old pair of shoes on Amazon and call it a day. Job done.
Well, that’s a strategy that’s best avoided, especially if you don’t want to have foot problems. Running with the wrong kinds of shoes can cause you to injure yourself. So if you’re trying to get fitter, lose weight or you are trying to achieve a certain goal like running a marathon, you will instantly impede your progress just by wearing the wrong kind of shoe.
If you buy the right shoe, on the other hand, you can minimize your risk of getting injured from wearing the wrong shoes. You will also feel more comfortable as you are exercising, and you will find that your running performance dramatically improves too. Ultimately, there are a lot of reasons why you should be looking for the best running shoes for you.
Figure out the type of surface you’re running on
The first thing that you should consider when you are buying a running shoe is what surface you are going to be running on most often. The surface can heavily influence the kind of shoe that you need, as it can determine the level of traction you may need, the shock absorbency and more.
So, what shoes work best for what surfaces? Well, if you are running on a road, the surface is traditionally going to be quite hard. You will ideally need to be looking for a shoe with great cushioning rather than getting hyper fixated on the traction. If you are running on grass then the opposite is true. You’re going to need something more supportive that will provide you with more stability. You’re going to need something with good traction too, so something like trail running shoes will be a good choice if you will be running on grassy terrain a lot.
For sand, you’re going to need something with a rigid upper since the ankles can be forced into weird positions when you are running on sand. Make sure that you have plenty of underfoot support and a good amount of grip – you don’t want to fall in the sand! Finally, consider trail running shoes for trail running. It seems fairly simple, but choosing shoes that work well for the terrain in question will help you to avoid injuries.
Get your gait analyzed
When you have figured out what kind of terrain you are going to be running on, you then need to consider getting your gait analyzed. What does this mean? Well basically, gait analysis will help you to figure out how your foot will roll when moving. There are different shoes to fit different kinds of gait, so it’s important that you figure out your gait. It’s fairly simple to do, too.
Shoes stores offer shoe fitting services
You don’t need to do all of the guesswork if you want to figure out what kind of gait you have. Instead, you can simply visit your local shoe store for some assistance. Most shoe stores that specialize in exercise shoes will give you a shoe fitting service. This is more true of running shoes, than for other sports like basketball. With this, an employee will usually put you in a neutral shoe. They will then ask you to run on a treadmill for roughly 20 to 30 minutes, as this will let them see how the foot is landing. It will let them see if there are any misalignments that need to be considered.
Determine and recommend the best shoe brand
Once the gait analysis has been completed, an employee can then help you to figure out what kind of running shoe will work best for you. Perhaps you have overpronation or underpronation – they will help you to find the right shoe to support you during your running sessions. They will also help you to figure out what level of comfort and support you need, and what brand will work the best for you.
If you wear insoles, remember to bring them to your fitting as they can change the fit
Oh, and here’s another thing worth keeping in mind. If you wear insoles then it’s vital that you bring them along with you to the shoe fitting. This will help to ensure that the shoes are the right fit for you, since the insoles can have a big impact on how the shoe fits.
Determine the length of your run
You may be surprised to know that the length of your run can have a big impact on the kinds of shoes that you should be buying. For instance, if you are going to be short, fast paces runs like sprints then you may need something that can help you to improve your performance more – something that will travel through the air much more easily and something less heavy.
If, on the other hand, you are going to be running a marathon, then you are going to need a different pair of shoes. For a marathon, you are going to need something that’s got more cushioning. This is because the run is much longer, and it’ll be pretty difficult to maintain your stamina if you are wearing a pair of shoes that are very uncomfortable. The right running shoes are going to depend on the context of the run and on your individual needs, so you need to take all of these factors into account.
Remember to test before purchasing
Buying things online can come with a lot of benefits. You will get your product quickly, it’s usually cheaper and you don’t need to leave the house to buy your product. It’s the perfect scenario. Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule – running shoes are one of those exceptions.
There’s nothing wrong with buying your running shoes online, but make sure that you try on the shoes in question beforehand – you can usually do this in your local exercise equipment store. This will help you to test out whether the shoes are the right choice for you.
So what do you need to check when you are trying to buy a pair of running shoes? As we have already established, it is first important to ensure that you analyze your gait, arch and pronation tendencies.
Another thing that you need to do is check how the shoes fit. Sure, the shoe may be in your size, but how are you supposed to know whether that shoe is the right fit for you? Some shoes run big, some run small. Shoes that are too big or small are most certainly not going to be suitable for running. You will need to check the toes to start, making sure that there’s around a thumb’s space in the front of the toe box as this will show that your feet aren’t cramped in the toe box. This will ensure that you do not injure your toes while running You need to check that the heel is locked in the shoe rather than wobbling, and make sure that the shoe is flexible enough for your needs. Is it breathable enough for you? How is the cushioning?
Also, don’t be afraid to get some help! You can ask people in the store to help you out with finding the right shoe. Make sure that you have your socks and insoles with you so that you can get a true picture of how it will really feel to wear the shoes. The thickness of your socks can massively impact how the shoes fit, and this is even more important during the warm weather since your feet will expand when it’s warm. You should test your shoes in the socks that you are planning on running in. Technical running socks can be especially helpful since they will come with additional padding and arch support.
If you try on the shoes in question before buying them, you are far less likely to make a bad decision that may potentially cost you a lot of money, and possibly even cause you to become injured.
Function over fashion
We all enjoy wearing shoes that look good, but there are some things that are simply more important than fashion. That’s right – you need to make sure that the shoes are functional for you. You can have a pretty pair of running shoes, but if they make your feet come out in blisters after a running session then they certainly aren’t a good choice for you!
Ensure the shoes are comfortable and are functional
When you are buying your running shoes, the very first thing that you should consider is whether the shoes in question work well for the purpose and if they are comfortable to wear. Make sure that you try them on in store – if they look great, then that’s fantastic! The looks should always be a benefit, not a deciding factor. That is, unless you’re torn between a few that are really comfortable and functional – that’s when the looks can be a deciding factor.
Function is more important than the brand
Brand names can carry a lot of weight when it comes to making a decision about running shoes. Of course, brands are important – a reputable brand is usually one that you know you can trust. With that being said though, it’s vital that you don’t buy a pair of running shoes based on brand alone. You need to think about the functionality of the shoes. If they look good then great, but they aren’t going to be very helpful for running if they aren’t designed for the purpose. You can show off your brand name shoes as much as you like, but you won’t be so happy if your feet are in agony because you’ve bought a pair of brand name running shoes without even thinking about the other important aspects. Function should always be your priority, not brand name or design.
It’s also worth noting that different brands are going to fit a little differently. For instance, some of them may be a little wider than others are. For this reason, if you are considering a certain brand then there’s a good idea to try the shoes on first since these differences in fit can have a massive impact on your running sessions.
It’s time to find the best running shoes!
So now that you know the key things you need to know about how to buy a pair of running shoes, it’s time to embark on an epic journey to find the best running shoes for you. This involves knowing a little more about the kinds of shoes that are on the market. With that in mind, here is some more information about the main kinds of running shoes out there that you should be looking into.
Everyday running shoes – handles most running
Everyday running shoes are basically exactly what they sound like. These are pretty much the most versatile shoes out there. They are perfect for use on a regular basis.
The chances are that you will most likely do the vast majority of your running in your everyday running shoes. In fact, if you’re just getting started with running then an everyday running shoe is all you really need until you are ready to venture into new terrain types.
A lot of these shoes are often built with extra support and incorporate plush materials. These help to make your feet even more comfortable while you are exercising. They are made with good shock absorbency to help to minimize injuries to your feet. They tend to last for around 300 to 600 miles.
It’s worth noting, however, that everyday shoes aren’t going to be the best choice for every single situation. Sometimes you’re going to need to get something that’s a little more specific for the task at hand. For instance, if you are doing trail running then the chances are that your running performance will be a lot better with a pair of trail running shoes than it would be with a pair of everyday running shoes.
Lightweight running shoes – less durable
If you are going to be doing faster paced running like sprints, it’s a good idea to opt for a pair of lightweight running shoes. This should be your number one choice for speed running.
These shoes are flexible and have a lightweight nature. This means that they work perfectly for speed based workouts where you don’t want a shoe that weighs you down too much. For instance, they work particularly well for tempo runs, intervals, sprints and fartleks. They differ a lot from racing flats since they are much more flexible, and this can help you to build more foot strength. A lot of people prefer to do fast paced running in lightweight shoes.
It can take a while to get used to using lightweight running shoes, especially if your running has mainly been done in shoes that have a lot more cushioning. For this reason, you should try to make sure that you are taking plenty of time to transition into the new shoes. When you first get these shoes, take a little bit of time to just walk in them to build up the strength in your feet. As time goes on, you should then start to build up the pace by going on shorter runs. You can gradually increase the amount that you use them each week.
In most cases, an experienced runner will use these shoes around twice a week, depending on their running routine. Of course, even runners that don’t have a lot of experience can use lightweight shoes effectively as their only shoe, as long as they aren’t running more than three times a week for long durations of time.
One thing worth noting, however, is that these shoes don’t tend to be particularly durable. You’re going to have to buy new ones after you have run around 200 to 500 miles.
In general, you’re going to get a similar experience with these shoes as you would get when using an everyday shoe, but the weight isn’t as heavy, making them perfect for race days.
Trail running shoes – better grip on dirt
If you enjoy running off the beaten path and frequently do trail running, then trail shoes are going to be the ideal choice for you. These shoes are specifically designed to work on routes that aren’t smoothed over. They’re for routes that are covered in natural debris such as rocks and roots. It’s for those slightly more challenging runs.
You can get a range of different trail shoes – some of them have less cushioning than others, whereas some of them are much more bulky. Ultimately the choice depends on the running distance, the general climate and the terrain.
In most trail shoes you will find a few key characteristics. First of all, most trail shoes will have lugs. This is an improved tread than what you would find in your average running shoes. Lugs are designed for helping you to keep traction on slippery or loose surfaces. If you’re going to be running on more slippery surfaces like grass for instance, then going with bigger lugs will be a good option. You can get away with smaller lugs for more even terrain.
These shoes will also usually have a rock place that will stop any sharp rocks from stabbing you in the foot as you run. They also tend to have reinforced uppers which make them more durable for tricky terrain.
Spikes – Lightest running shoes
If you’re going to be running on a track or something similar to this, then using spikes is a good choice. They are definitely the most lightweight shoes on the market, and they mostly tend to weigh as little as 142 grams. They do look a little strange as they tend to have plastic or metal spikes on the front of the foot. This is intentional, as it helps to have better traction.
The shoes are also rather stiff. They don’t have a lot of cushioning, and are generally best used just for those hard track workouts. They’re not the best choice for long distance running, though it is certainly possible to use them for that purpose.
Racing flats – lighter training shoes
If you’re going to be running a race, what shoes should you go for? That’s right – racing flats. They are sometimes referred to as just flats. They are lightweight and fairly stiff to maximize travel through the air. You can get them in lots of cushioning options. Some of them have very little cushioning, whereas some will give you a lot more cushioning which is good for things such as marathons.
If you are preparing for a race then it’s a good idea to do a little bit of training in advance. With that being said though, these shoes won’t tend to see a lot of light since they aren’t very durable, so can’t handle regular training sessions.
Daily trainers – Durable and heavier material
In many respects these shoes are very similar to everyday running shoes. They are designed to be easy to run in for short and long durations. They work well for recovery runs and are very comfortable. They aren’t overly cushioned but are cushioned enough to help you to feel comfortable when you are running. They are perfect for use on a daily basis. These shoes also consist of more durable and heavier materials. This is useful in some respects, but it can also be problematic if you are trying to run at an increased speed since they don’t glide through the air as easily.
Remember to find the right size – the wrong shoe size can lead to injury
Last but not least, here’s a word of advice. You could buy the best possible pair of running shoes for the purpose, but they still won’t help you much if the sizing is wrong. This is the main reason why it’s a good idea to try on the shoes first, since different brands have different sizing. If you buy a pair of running shoes that’s too big for your feet, then there’s a chance that you could get injured because the shoes aren’t fitting you very well. If you have any doubts, it’s worth speaking to an employee in your local shoe store about getting sized, as we mentioned earlier in the article.
4 Additional Quick Tips For Finding The Perfect Running Shoe
At this point you’re something of an expert at finding the ideal running shoe for you, but there are still many things to learn! Before you hit that buy button, you should first consider just a few of these tips. They will help you to really be certain that you have made the right choice for you.
Try shoes on at the end of the day
If you are going to the store to try on the shoes before you buy, it’s a good idea to make sure that you are doing it in the afternoon and beyond. Don’t try to do it early in the morning.
You may think that this is slightly strange advice, but hear us out. According to Harvard Medical School, your feet actually expand throughout the day as you keep on using them.
If you shop for your running shoes in the morning, you may end up having some problems. It means that there isn’t enough room in your shoes if your feet do expand throughout the day. The shoes can end up being too tight for you when you wear them in the evening. This is bad news when you are running. As we have already mentioned a few times in this article, wearing ill fitting running shoes can lead to injury.
Leave a thumb width in front of your toe
When you’re buying a pair of shoes, your first assumption may be that your toes should be reaching the end of your shoe. This is most certainly not the case.
The toe box of your shoe is pretty vital, since it’s where your toes have the space to move and wiggle around. It helps to protect your toes from potential impact while you are running. In most cases, the toe box needs to be wider than the ball of your foot.
You need to have a basic rule of thumb to figure out whether your shoes are going to work for you. Ideally, the shoe needs to have a thumb’s width in between your toes and the edge of the shoe. Make sure that you put your thumb down vertically between your big toe and the edge of the shoe. Your toes should not be in the way if the fit is good. If your toes are right on the edge then it’s a good sign that you need to buy a size up. You may need a size down if there’s too much space in the toe box.
No pinching or sliding
If the shoes are a good choice for you, then they should be feeling comfortable and secure. You should not be experiencing any squeezing or pinching feelings in the shoe that hurt your feet. Likewise, your foot also shouldn’t be slipping around inside of the shoe. These are all signs that you need to go up or down a size in your shoes.
Basically, if your shoes aren’t helping you to feel secure in your shoes then it’s a good sign that you need a different size.
Look for the right width
Finally, make sure that you’re finding the right width! Running shoes can come in lots of different sizes, but they also come in different fits. For example, you may see some running shoes that are designed to have a wide fit, or some that have a narrow fit. It’s worth looking at the measurements of the shoe to see if your feet match up and you have the right size.
Now you know everything you need to know about buying the perfect running shoes for your next workout! It’s ultimately all about choosing the right shoes for your unique feet. After all, what works for your friend may not necessarily be the best choice for you!
Find a pair of shoes that will be comfortable and help you to achieve your goals. Remember the tips mentioned in this article and you will be able to find shoes that are going to give you the best possible performance in your running sessions.