How To Choose Running Shoes

how to select running shoes

Running shoe is the most important accessory of a runner. And if  selected incorrectly can lead to a host of injuries like plantar fasciitis, ITBS, runner’s knee and many more.

Few days back I was playing a friendly shoe guide to a couple of friends, and it got me into writing this article. ‘How to select a running shoe’ seems to be one of the most searched topics. It has to be with the growing popularity of the sport of running.

Whether you are a seasoned athlete or casual jogger, running shoe is one thing we are all serious about. Protection of feet is important to prolong the joy of running. So, here are few tips to select a running shoe.

What to look for in a running shoe?

1.  Comfort

I have put this issue at the beginning because it is the most important aspect of selecting a running shoe. Comfort is different at different distances of a race or a training run. Comfort does not mean a spongy, air mattress like feeling. It means you forget that you are wearing a shoe.

The shoe which I am wearing for almost a year is the most comfortable shoe I have worn for a long time. They are Nike Free 3. However, I realised they are comfortable for me for a half marathon but not for a marathon. The shoe you wear at the store may feel comfortable to stand in or walk but can really get uncomfortable once you start running in them. It has happened with me once and had to later sell it to a friend, a walker, at dirt cheap price.

For me comfortable means a soft heel counter, firm forefoot padding and flexible movement of the shoe. Your comfort variables can be different but you must know them to select the right shoe.

2.  Size

If the shoe doesn’t fit you properly, chances are that you will end with massive blisters and will throw the shoe in garbage at finish point of the race. When you are going to get a shoe, ensure that there is a half a thumb’s width space between the longest toe and tip of the shoe.

Also consider your foot width. Like I have a broad feet. So, I generally end up buying shoes that are larger by one size because it fits my foot width. A good width test would be if you can wiggle your toes freely in the shoe and if the big toe is not pushing in the neighboring fingers.

3.  Stability

The market gimmicks are buzzing with motion control, arch supporters etc which even confuses me. Keep the selection simple. Go to a running specialty store where experienced sales person can guide you. If they have the facility of gait analysis, then go for it. It will help you know the type of pronation and weak points in your foot strike.

However, if I was you, I will stay away from all this and go for the most comfortable fit. Motion control shoes may help you when you are suffering from injuries like Plantar Fasciitis but in normal use, you may not need it. Also, arch support is something you can counter if you have developed sufficient foot and ankle strength. Go for comfort, that’s the bottom line.

4.  Cost

Costly shoes are not necessarily good shoes. One day I was talking to one of my friends about good running shoes and I mentioned him about a local Indian brand of running shoe, Goldstar, which costs Rs 400($6). I told him that I found these shoes the best(though I don’t wear them much) as they are cheap, flat, light and comfortable. His eyes came out and said ‘ aren’t they too cheap?’. Well, you know…

I have found in my experience that I can get a good running shoe in the range of $60 – $100. Don’t get carried away with the attractive colours to match your gear(however, it can be a driving factor for many), or any eye catching style which may not be practical in the long run.

5.  Nature of use

Shoes vary according to the nature of terrain you run on. Shoes for trails and road are made differently. A trail shoe with lugs for traction is going to hurt if you run with them on road and road shoes will not provide you with traction and stability on the trails.

Judge your kind of running. If you like to alternate the surfaces, then it will be best to but different shoes for different purposes.

Additional tips on how to shop for a running shoe:

1. Wear socks, which you wear while running, while trying out new shoes.

2. Go in the evening hours when your feet tend to be larger than what they are in the morning.

3. Don’t be in a haste to buy a shoe. Shoes are expensive and you may not like to regret on a poor choice later. However, in case of a wrong selection, you can always sell it on ebay at a lesser price.

4. Check online for discount and where you can return them back in case of improper fit.

5. Walk around or run a bit in the store treadmill. The carpet in the store can be deceiving.

6. Read reviews before buying a model of shoe you are looking for. Best would be to try out a variety of brands.

7. Keep a note of likes and dislikes in your present shoe. They can be a guiding factor when you are out shopping.

8. If you find your perfect shoe, buy more in advance for future, in case the company stops it’s production.

Buying a running shoe is a matter of hit and trial and good luck but a thorough knowledge with regards to your requirement can shorten the time of experimentation.

Till then stay fit and keep running.

How many miles do you generally put in before changing a running shoe?

Which is the most important factor for while choosing a running shoe

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2014 Neel banerjee

Author: Neel

I am Neel and the creator of borN. I am an ultra marathoner, scuba diver, adventurer, writer and father of an extremely active child.

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  1. Very good inputs. Size and comfort are two most important besides other points mentioned. Hope to remember these while getting my next one.

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    • Hey thanks for stopping by and commenting. Yeah, that’s a problem with the shoe makers. If you find one good pair, best is to stock them up.

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  2. The most important things you need to know about running shoes, are right here! Good info, Neel! After reading this, I will always keep this in mind when buying a new pair: ‘comfortable = It means you forget that you are wearing a shoe.’ Even though I am a casual jogger, the stability factor is highly important, for me at least.
    Lynda Davis recently posted…Comfortable Wedding HeelsMy Profile

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    • Thanks for dropping by and appreciating the work. Bdw, I dropped in at your blog. You are doing a great job. Keep it up.

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