How To Find The Right Running Shoe
Nothing seems as simple as putting on a pair of running shoes and doing what your feet and legs were meant to do: Run. But after five minutes your lungs burn, your legs hurt and you can’t help thinking, “this is supposed to be healthy?” This article in two parts gets you on track.
You And Your Feet Are Special
The first thing we have to look at is the shoe you want to start running with.
If you just want to find out if jogging or running are the right thing for you, almost any sneaker will do the job for those couple of times.
But if you plan to keep it up, not any old sports shoe is right for the task. There are a couple of parameters that have to be accounted for:
- Your feet. If you have flat feet you need a shoe that gives specific support to their arch or instep, while the exact opposite applies when you have feet with high arches.
- Your running style. When running, some people roll their feet over the insides, others over the outsides, some first touch ground with the heels, others with the mid- or forefoot.
- The environment. If you usually run on pavement, your shoe needs to absorb more shock than when you run on dirt roads. If you run on a treadmill, your shoe should have only little cushioning, as most treadmills already have built-in shock absorbers.
Therefore even the latest $200 jogging shoe will gain you nothing, if it isn’t the shoe that literally fits your feet.
Getting The Right Shoe
The proper course of action is to go to a sports shoe store and have a running analysis done. This means you will step on a special treadmill and sensors and cameras record how your legs move and how your feet get in contact with the ground. On the basis of this analysis and by explaining on what surfaces you want to run, a qualified employee should be able to recommend a model that fits your need.
Some clerks will of course use this chance to showcase their latest and most expensive model. You don’t necessarily have to buy that one. The truth is that running shoes aren’t rocket science and changes to them are rather small, even when various companies tout their newest models as technological breakthroughs that will revolutionize the concept of cardio fitness.
Ask for a model that is from last year and fits your specifications. It may have been discontinued and is now sold at much less than the original price. Put them on, compare how you feel in them and hop onto that treadmill again to check how they perform when they do the job they are meant for.
I also highlighted the whole concept in this video, if you would rather listen to me explaining it. Please be kind; it was the first video I ever filmed and although I may hide it well, I was rather nervous:
Ready, Set, Go
You should now be well-armed to get the best possible shoe for you and your money. In the second part of this article we look at how we put your (new) shoes to good use.
Picture courtesy of “lululemon“.
Great advice. Too many people start running without considering their shoes and they end up injuring themselves. Plantar fasciitus, shin splints and other injuries are not fun and can all result from poor shoes.
If a person has flat feet or has had any issue with their feet in the past it would be well advised to see a podiatrist before starting running training. The $300 it might cost you now will save in pain later on.
People should ask the sales clerk about the shoe and how long it has been out, do the models change much over the years. If you get a brand that does not change much then you can buy your first pair from the specialist running store and then after that buy them cheaper online. I bought my first pair for $250 at the store where I had gait analysis done and then I got them online each time after that for $160. Brings me to my next point that is shoes wear out. It is best to keep a running diary so you can record how far you have run in your shoes. 600-800k’s are the numbers most often cited. If you are doing 20k’s a week that means your shoes will last about 7 months.
*don’t know if you mentioned this stuff in the video but can’t watch youtube videos at work.
Yep, good points! A running shoe can still look neat on the outside, but its shock absorbing qualities might already be gone.
And I wholeheartedly agree with not saving on the wrong end. If the best available shoe for you costs $300, because you have flat feet, and you can afford that shoe, you are best advised to indeed buy that one.
Another interesting alternative which I’ve started looking into is to run without shoes or with a “minimalist shoe” which basically only protects your feet from sharp objects (like these http://www.retkiaitta.fi/tuotekuvat/900×600/Fivefingers-Flow_copy1.jpg) The argument with “barefoot running” as it’s called is that it supports a running style that the joints and muscles of the feet are meant to run with. I don’t know what to think of this yet, but i do think that one’s running style is something to take as seriously as one’s choice of shoe. Here’s a short video if anyone’s interested about the differences between different running styles and about running without shoes: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7jrnj-7YKZE
When I first read up “minimalist running” my gut response was “yes, that is the way to do it” (you know how I am for simple approaches).
But then I thought that our feet were not designed to be used on concrete and pavement, which are rather recent inventions.
So all in all it might simply depend on where you choose to run. In a forest or on a dirt road, the minimalist concept might very well work, if we allow for some discomfort getting accustomed to it might cause at first.
I have to agree with Evil on that one. I was the same but then I read a bit about it. If you are going to do it you really need to build up slowly over time. Yes, our feet were designed to walk on plains, forest and dirt but that was when we were barefoot all the time and our feet build up a resistance to this over time. These days our feet are in booties and mollycoddled from the time we can walk so they are not prepared for those surfaces.
Evil, there is good evidence that cushioned running shoes paradoxically lead to increased impact forces – they don’t do what they are supposed to do. I have been wearing minimalist shoes for just over a year now, and my injury problems have all but disappeared. As to running on hard surfaces, it is much easier and pleasant than rough tracks and grass! The body naturally adjusts running gait to the surface.
Great to hear about your positive experiences!
I think one day I should try this out myself.
Yeah, I see what you mean, really important info. Too bad where I live, most clerks in shoe stores are under 20 years old and know almost nothing about what they sell, most at least.
I don’t run but know runners. Of those runners quite a few have fivefingers and they use them on all surfaces, building up to road. However, all use them at the gym in order to train better on the back lifting excersises and the leg specific exercises. Extra stabilisation and additional synergists.
You have given some important info and i will most probably re-read this again sometime soon, i do agree with combat in the sense that most clerks don’t know what they’re selling, you get some that will give you great advice but a lot here are just employed to sell and just that.
Running shoes are important though, i doubled my running time just by putting on some old running “style” shoes around the house, the time doubled was due to the pain i was receiving after just 20mins of using a standard trainer. I would love to find a place where i can get a running analysis done, perhaps i’ll have to have a good search.
Right you are: I started with a really cheap pair that was very heavy and then got a pair of real running shoes for my birthday. What a difference! I couldn’t believe how light those shoes were and how fast I was able to run.