Running shoes are a very personal thing. Pardon the pun, but it’s not a “one shoe fits all” scenario. Choosing the right pair of running shoes can seem like a tough challenge. The market is flooded with different brands and models. Lockdown also makes it harder to choose the right pair of running shoes as you can’t go to a shop to try them on. Moreover, what is comfortable for your friend may not be ideal for you. So, how do you choose your running shoes?
Factors To Consider:
Below are some factors which should be considered when choosing running shoes. Each factor will mean something different to each person. What you may rank as a number one priority may come lower down on someone else’s list.
Everyone has their own personal style preference. Some prefer brighter colours, whilst others opt for the more traditional black and white. Brand also plays a part for the style factor. Some people stay loyal to one brand, whilst others have multiple brands in rotation or alternate with each pair of running shoes. As long as your running shoes inspire you to actually want to wear them, then you’re halfway there!
Different running shoes are suited to different terrains. It’s important to consider the ground that you will be running on. If you run mainly on pavement then road running shoes would be a good investment.
For fell or trail runners, it would be worth investing in a dedicated pair of trail shoes to handle the technical terrain.
There are also hybrid shoes which look to offer comfort on the pavement but also provide some traction and stability on mild trails. Track runners can opt for road running shoes, track spikes or racing flats.
This may seem like a similar factor as terrain, but purpose relates more to the type of run. If you enter a lot of road races then you may want to opt for a lighter and more responsive shoe. If you are looking for a long run training shoe, you may be better choosing a more cushioned running shoe.
There are quite a few different options available, so it’s important that the shoe you choose meets your needs. If you are looking for a high mileage training shoe, you would be disappointed if you purchased a pair of racing flats as the durability and comfort wouldn’t meet your needs.
Getting the correct fit is really important when it comes to choosing the right pair of running shoes. By default, most people opt for the same size in running shoe as for their standard shoes.
Sizing for running shoes can vary though, and each brand will also be slightly different. As a general rule, you may want to size at least half a size up. When you run, your feet get warm and expand into the shoe. Wearing shoes that are too tight can cause rubbing and blisters.
Your foot type can help to determine which pair of running shoes would be right for you. The most common is described as a neutral running shoe. This type is suitable for the majority of runners. However, people who have high or low arches can be more prone to injury if they use a neutral running shoe.
You can find out your foot type by using a piece of paper and some water. Wet the bottom of your foot and then make a footprint on the paper. You should be able to see by your footprint if you have low, normal or high arches. Some specialist running retailers offer gait analysis which can show you how your foot lands when you run.
When you are running, you may also notice your pronation. Pronation refers to the rolling of the foot from the heel to the toe through a normal foot strike. Normal pronation is classed as a neutral gait. Supination is when the foot rolls outwards and is common in people who have high arches. Overpronation is when the foot rolls inwards and is common with people who have flat feet.
If you experience overpronation or supination, you may want to invest in stability shoes. Another option would be to purchase neutral running shoes but invest in custom orthodontic insoles.
Running shoes utilize a number of different drop depths. The drop depth refers to the difference in height between the heel of the shoe and the forefoot. A higher drop means a steeper drop between the heel and the forefoot of the shoe. A thicker sole doesn’t necessarily equate to a steeper drop.
As a general guide, it’s recommended that the majority of runners choose a shoe with a drop greater than 6mm. This is generally because most runners tend to meet the ground with their heel or back of the midfoot area. If you are a more natural runner and your forefoot or midfoot makes contact with the ground before your heel does, then you may be better with a smaller drop shoe.
It’s important to have a budget when it comes to purchasing the right pair of running shoes. A good pair can cost anywhere from £50-£200 depending on your needs. As a way to keep the cost down, consider looking at the previous year’s models to get a bargain. Alternatively, you could also opt for the “less desirable” colourways of your chosen running shoe.
If you don’t cover many miles, then buying a more expensive shoe may not be such an issue. If you clock up the miles then you may want to try and find cheaper alternatives as you will be replacing your shoes more often.
Durability will depend on the materials used in the construction of the shoes. There are also a few other factors which will play a role in determining how many miles you can expect your running shoes to last. It’s always worth considering the rough expected mileage versus the price point when purchasing new shoes.
One of the biggest things to consider is the returns policy of the store you purchase from. Nike.com allows you to trial the shoes and then offer a 30 day refund policy if you aren’t satisfied. Sportsshoes.com offer a 100 day refund policy, however the shoes need to be in perfect condition with the original packaging and labels. Amazon allow returns of most items within 30 days, but these would also need to be in the original packaging. There are many other retailers available, but these are three that I use the most often for my running purchases.
As you can see, there are a few factors to consider when looking to choose running shoes. It’s important to decide how you prioritize each of these factors. The main importance is to pick a running shoe which is suited to the terrain you run on and is fitted correctly to your foot and style.
Don’t be afraid to visit your local sports shop and try a few pairs on to see which feels best for you. Some specialist running shops may also offer a gait analysis which can help you determine your running type to see if you would benefit from support shoes.
All in all, how you choose your running shoes comes down to a lot of personal preference. Just be sure to check the refund policy of the retailer that you make your final purchase from!