How-To Choose the Correct Running Shoes

So you’ve decided to make a life change. You want to be more physically healthy. You want to eat better. You want to hit the gym every other day. And hey, while you’re at it, why not take on a marathon too?

It’s great that so many more people these days are deciding to lead healthier, active lives. But if you are serious about running, you need to make some adjustments before hitting the track. And the biggest adjustment is to get the right shoes. Running shoes may all look the same but each pair is very different, specially contoured to different types of feet and athletic builds. You need a pair of running shoes that is perfect for you. Otherwise, you increase the likelihood of an injury. On top of that, you might not get the best energy return from your running stride that you should get. These tips will help you find the right shoes so you can train hard and pass through the finish line with ease.

  1. Understand pronation. Pronation refers to how your body distributes weight as you go through your walking stride or gait cycle.
    • Neutral pronators distribute their weight evenly across their feet, rolling inwards slightly to absorb the impact of the step. Neutral pronators tend to have medium arches. Neutral pronation is the most ideal, efficient type of gait.
    • Over-pronators put more pressure on the insides (medial sides) of their feet towards their arches and their big toes as they walk. Their feet roll inwards too much as they walk. Over-pronators tend to have flat arches on their feet.
    • Under-pronators put more pressure on the outsides of their feet away from their arches (lateral sides) and towards their small toes as they walk. Their feet do not roll inward enough as they walk. Under-pronators tend to have high arches on their feet.
  2. Determine your feet’s pronation. Perform the Wet Test.
    • Dip just the bottom of your foot in water.
    • Step onto a paper bag. Follow all the way through with your step and onto the next step as if you were walking naturally.
    • Examine the footprint on the paper bag. If the footprint is very narrow and not very wet in the area of the foot’s arch, you are likely an under-pronator. If the footprint is large and filled out fully around the area of the foot’s arch, you are likely an over-pronator. If it’s somewhere in the middle, you are likely a neutral pronator.
  3. Select the right type of running shoes.
    • Motion Control running shoes: For moderate to heavy over-pronators. Motion control running shoes are designed to be inflexible, with denser material on the inside of the shoe so as to limit pronation. The shoes themselves are heavy but very durable.
    • Stability running shoes: For mild to moderate over-pronators and neutral pronators with heavier builds. Stability running shoes are more flexible than motion control shoes but still offer good medial support and durability.
    • Cushioned running shoes: For under-pronators and neutral pronators with lighter builds. Cushioned running shoes are very flexible, lightweight, and softly cushioned to encourage foot motion.
  4. Choose a trusted brand for your running shoes. These brands ensure top-notch quality. Brands like Asics, Mizuno, Brooks, Diadora, New Balance, and Nike are the most trusted brands among runners.
  5. Choose the best fit. As always, try on your running shoes before you buy them.
    • As a rule of thumb, use the Rule of Thumb for fitting your running shoes. Make sure your running shoes have about a thumb’s length of space to give at the toe box. As you run, your feet will swell up a little bit. You want to be sure there’s enough room in your running shoes when that happens to still let the blood flow in your feet.
    • Also be sure that the running shoes are wide enough for your feet. When you try them on, the uppers shouldn’t stretch over the midsole of the shoes.
    • Your heel can move a little bit at the mouth but they shouldn’t slip out of the shoes.
  6. Buy two pairs of running shoes, if you can afford to. Many runners who run more than 3 times per week buy two pairs of running shoes. Your running shoes need 24-48 hours of rest after a run so the soles can recover their cushioning and support your feet properly. If you plan to run more frequently and can afford a second pair of running shoes, a second pair would be a good investment towards your health.
  7. Replace running shoes when the soles start to look worn. A pair of running shoes will last about 400-500 miles, or about 6 months. But once the soles start to wear thin, that’s a sign that the running shoes have lost much of their cushioning.
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