Yesterday we broke down the elements of the running shoe and explained all the running shoe jargon to (hopefully) make shoe shopping a little less confusing for you. Today, we’re going to take that one step further and provide you with some tips for what to look for in a running shoe, what to avoid and how to find the perfect pair for you.
Tip #1: choose a running-specific shoe
OK, so this might seem a little obvious, but with the variety of athletic shoes available on the market, its worth noting. Just because a shoe looks like a sneaker (or a sneaker looks like a running shoe) doesn’t mean that just any shoe with a rubber sole and laces will do. Yes, technically you can run in any shoe, but running-specific shoes are designed to help you run faster, run more comfortably and prevent injuries. If you’re currently running in your old gym sneakers, it’s time for an upgrade.
Tip #2: make sure it fits properly
This is arguably the most important factor when it comes to buying a pair of running shoes, and there are several things to look out for. First, there should be about a thumb’s width of space between your toe and the end of the shoe to prevent your toes from hitting the end when you run downhill. There should also be enough space in the toe box to allow you to wiggle each of your toes freely in the shoe, without it being so roomy that the shoe feels sloppy on your foot. The upper part of the shoe should wrap comfortably around your foot so that it doesn’t slide and your heel stays in place, without the shoe being so tight that it pinches your foot. Many shoes come in narrow, regular and wide options, so be sure to select which one works best for you.
Tip #3: go to a running specialty store
While many major brands do offer their shoes in big-box stores, you are far better off going to your local running store when looking for your next pair of kicks. Not only will you be supporting a local business, but the people there will have much more running-specific knowledge and will be much better equipped to guide you to the perfect pair.
Tip #4: get the right type of shoe
It’s important to consider what you’re going to be using your shoe for in order to purchase the shoe that will suit your needs. How much mileage will you be running in the shoe? Will you be running on the roads or in trails? Are you looking for an every-day trainer to do your easy runs in, or do you want a shoe for speed work and races? Knowing the answers to these questions will be especially helpful when you’re talking to the people at your local running store, so they can narrow down which shoes will be the best fit for you.
Tip #5: know your feet and stride
Are you a heel-striker? Do you over-pronate? Are your feet relatively flat, or do you have high arches? If you don’t know the answers to these questions, talk to the people at your local running store about having a gait analysis done. This will determine which parts of your shoe are going to take the biggest beating, and where you might need more or less support to help prevent injuries.
Tip #6: test them out
Some running stores will let you go for a run in a new pair of shoes and bring them back if they don’t fit right, but if they don’t, you should at least test them in the store first. Walk around in them for several minutes, or hop on the store’s treadmill for a bit if they allow it to see how the shoes feel while you’re running.
Tip #7: buy them in the evening
Our feet tend to swell as the days goes on, so if you try on a pair in the morning, they may be too tight by the time you go for your evening run. Instead, head to your local running store after work to make sure your shoes will fit your feet at all times of the day.
Tip #8: don’t shop based on looks
With the wide range of colours and styles available in running shoes these days, it can be tempting to choose your next pair based on what they look like. We know it’s a bummer when the shoe you need doesn’t come in the colour you want, but believe us, when you’re half-way through your marathon training plan and your feet are still happy, you’ll be glad you made the right decision.