This is a question as old as running itself. The answer to this question can vary wildly, with some on either end of the spectrum becoming more vocal and passionate about what they feel is best. From those who believe that barefoot running is the only solution, to the latest shoe evangelists, we have seen them all. Much like most things online, everyone is an expert. Everyone wants to tell you what you should wear, what you need to do, and why the alternatives are rubbish. To be honest, I’m not going to tell you what shoe to buy. I do hope that this post will shed some light on the process you should go through when picking your running shoe.
I’ll start off with a bit of personal experience. I started off with Asics which I found did the job. A friend told me to wear Adidas which for me were just not right at all. A taxi driver once told me to try the Mizuno Wave Inspire. This turned out to be my favorite shoe for a long time before I again found myself going back into the trial and error cycle. I could list them all out but I’d bore you to death. The key thing from this experience I want to share is everyone is an expert, but only you will know what is the right shoe to fit your foot. Some people have bunions, some people need arch support, people like me tend to just go for mad colours. Whatever the case, finding your running shoe shouldn’t be answered with someone saying THIS is your shoe in some sort of magical reveal. This will be a personal journey, and when you find the shoe that works best, you will transform into a running Cinderella.
So if its a personal choice, and you can’t have someone tell you exactly what to do, how do we narrow the field of choice? Here are a few things you should look at which will impact just how a running shoe feels for you.
Each running shoe has its own specific purpose. Each part of that shoe has its own purpose as well. For such a mass produced comodity, the subtle differences in how a shoe is put together could dramatically impact how it feels when you go training. When you put your shoe on, look at how it feels with your ankle in front and back. This is where a lot of the initial pain and issues will occur. Some shoes use a lot of padding, while others are more snug and fitted.
One quick rule here, if you are a Size 5, or a Size 10, buy a half size bigger. This is for comfort, but I can guarantee its worth it for the prevention of blisters alone!!
The feel has so many aspects, we could easily get very nerdy about shoes, but the last thing on the feel, see how your toes feel in the shoe. Some have fabric, some are more rigid. Some are suited for roads, other for trail. Find a shoe which is wide enough, and suited for what running you will be doing.
This sounds obvious, but we have to be clear, the type of surface you’re running on, and the amount of miles will have a big impact on what shoe you should buy. If its a track, road, gym, or trail shoe, you need to know what the use case will be. The structure of the shoe will also differ from beginners and 5Ks all the way up to marathons and ultras. Knowing what surface you’re going on and how far has a massive bearing on the shoe you will be buying.
Now, not everyone will agree with cushioning. There are some really good reasons to try barefoot running. I am going to appeal to the masses here and assume most people want some form of cushioning. As you can guess, this part of the shoe reduces the impact on your joints. Be sure that that structure of your foot suits the shoe you’re looking at.
4 MISTAKES PEOPLE MAKE WHEN BUYING RUNNING SHOES
#1: It looks cool. All I can say is you’d be surprised. I know I am guilty of buying a few pairs of suspect runners because I thought they looked cool. You should focus on fit, feel, and function over fashion. Making sure it is the right shoe for your specific needs is paramount. If the shoe doesn’t perform for you, then it doesn’t really matter what it looks like
#2: Not shopping around. There is almost no running shoe which is sold in only one place. The variance in price will depend on who has a sale on and who doesn’t. Also, getting the “old model” is a great way to save a few bucks. It would have been just perfect 6 months before, but some marketing team in Nike want you to buy this REALLY COOL new one. See Mistake #1…
#3: Buying shoes which are too small. Really can’t stress this point enough. I bought in theory a great pair of Adidas runners about 8 years ago which were exactly the right size. It was a horrendous experiences. All experts say, buy a pair that is 1/2 a size too big, and give your fee some room
#4: Assuming your size. This is not as obvious. I “know” I’m a size 11, but based on the shoes I’ve worn over the past 2/3 years, it may mean my foot is wider. Your footform could change ever so slightly, but could make a massive difference. If possible, measure your foot before buying.
4 FINAL TIPS WHEN BUYING RUNNING SHOES
I don’t know why I’m a fan of the #4 today, but there you have it!
- Go to a specialty running shop, not a generic sports shop like JD Sports. A member of staff will analyse your gait and bring a selection of shoes that they believe best fit your needs. They’ll let you try each one, and help you narrow it down to the right choice.
- Get your feet measured. You may think you know your size, but your feet change over time, and one model’s fit can be drastically different from another’s.
- When you go shopping, bring along the shoes, socks, and inserts you’ve been using. That way, when you try on a new shoe, you can compare it directly to your current experience.
- Shoes should be replaced every 300 to 500 miles depending on the type of shoe. Keep track of the date that you bought them in your training log and make note of when they start to feel worn down. If you have Strava, it has a really neat tool which allows you to select which shoe you’re training with.
WELL, WHAT RUNNING SHOE SHOULD I BUY THEN?
I could easily say if you run a 5K buy this shoe, but like I’ve said above. This is a highly personal decision. It really needs to fit and feel perfect. Size, Fit, Purpose, Distance, and Budget.
If you are totally muddled, or if you have any questions, you can email us at [email protected] and we can get someone to give to reply with some tips and advice.