Choosing the Best Running Shoes
Along with our friends at Sportsshoes.com we bring you a guide to choosing the sorts of running shoes that would suit your needs. Comparing the best shoes for you is often a very difficult choice as there is such a huge choice on the market and they do a range of jobs depending on who you are and how you run, so the best rated shoe for one person is not necessarily the same as for another.
So we have tried to simplify this for you a little.
This section deals with the choice of running trainers that you can buy - choosing spikes is another topic, which we will be releasing an article about shortly.
Mens and womens running shoes do vary, but as long as you buy a gender specific pair, the follow suggestions hold true.
First of all you need to ask yourself some questions about your running.
What size shoes do you need?
This is an easy one to get you started! However, it might be worth bearing in mind your feet swell after more than a couple of miles, so getting half a size larger than normal can be a good idea.
Do you have a broad foot or a narrow one?
Most brands are designed for a typical D width fitting. Brooks are wider and Adidas narrower, whilst some manufacturers do a wider fitting than their normal model (Nike and New Balance). New Balance actually offer 3 different width sizes.
How much do you weigh?
A large force (2-3 times body weight) is put through your shoe, so you need to know they can cope with the impact. Some shoes are designed for heavier runners, such as Brooks Beast and Asics Gel Koji by providing extra cushioning.
What surface do you typically run on?
Normally this will fall into one of three categories and the soles of running shoes are designed to cope with the different surfaces they encounter
Road Running Shoes. These have a shallow tread on a long lasting sole, for example Asics Gel Kayano or Mizuno Wave Rider. These shoes are also good for when you are on a track.
On and Off Road Running Shoes. For those who run on paths or footpaths as well as roads, these have a deeper tread to cope with uneven gravel paths etc, but a still durable for road running. Good examples of these shoes include Nike Air Pegasus and Saucony Jazz 6000.
Off Road Running Shoes. Grip is all important here, you need lots of traction for deep treads on the soles. Examples include Adidas Swoop 2 and Walsh PB Extreme.
Do you overpronate, underpronate or are you a neutral runner?
Athletes typically run in one of three ways in terms of how they land. Overpronation, Neutral or Underpronation. This affects the sort of shoe that is most suitable to the individual.
To see which of these you do, if you don't already know, you can go to an expert and they will test you out to see which type you are. Alternatively, you can get a good idea with the shower wet test. To do this simply examine the print left by your foot after a bath or shower.
a: If your print looks like this.
You are an underpronator / supinator and have a high arched foot. This print will leave a very thin band on the lateral side (outside of the foot) or none at all, between the heel and forefoot. This is because most underpronators are forefoot runners, only using the heel down hill. This curved, highly arched foot does not pronate sufficiently and requires a lot of cushioning.
Good shoes for these people include Asics Gel Nimbus, Saucony Grid Triumph 2 and Mizuno Wave Creation. Stay away from motion control or structured shoes that are designed to reduce foot mobility.
b: If your print looks like this.
You have a normal foot plant and are a mild overpronator. A normal foot usually leaves approximately half the footprint - the lateral (outside) part. The foot plant lands on the outside of the heel and rolls inward slightly to absorb shock while moving off the big toe.
You require a Stability shoe. A stability shoe has a good blend of cushioning, pronation control features and durability. Added support will not do you any harm and could be beneficial.
New Balance M1050 and Asics Gel GT2100 are good choices of running shoes for those with a normal foot plant.
c: If your print looks like this.
You have a flatter foot and require a motion control shoe. This foot leaves a print of the whole of the foot. This is because the arch collapses through the foot motion. The foot strikes at the heel and rolls inwards excessively - this is more severe overpronation. If you are a serious overpronator and do not wear the correct shoes then you are much more likely to get injuries (especially knee and hip injuries) when running.
If you have a flat foot pattern then try shoes with Motion Control characteristics. Motion Control shoes are designed to strongly limit the inward rolling of the foot. They are rigid and generally heavier in weight. They are best for moderate to severe overpronators who need maximum support.
Reebok Premier Control and Brooks Beast are good shoes to counter the effects of overpronation.
Do you run a lot of miles or relatively few?
Frankly, the more mileage that you do, the more you should spend on your trainers as you'll be putting extra strain on your legs as you do so. Equally, if you have a poor technique, better shoes will help counter this a bit. So, if you are a track runner who just uses trainers to warm up and down and the occasional short run, then don't spend too much money on trainers. Alternately, if you do a lot of mileage, you do get what you pay for - having said that last years stock is often sold off in sales at discounted prices and will be pretty much as good as this years, so you can make good savings there.
When should I replace my trainers?
Trainers lose their cushioning after 300-600 miles of running, so to help prevent pain and injury you'll need to replace them after you've covered this sort of distance. Once you can see that the heels have worn down, the trainers need to be changed. How long your trainers last, of course, is up to you and your training plan.
Learn more / further reading
- Starting Blocks
- Running GPSs
- Heart Rate monitors
- iPod / MP3 Players
- Weight Training Equipment
- Cross-Training Equipment