Running shoes are our most important piece of equipment. They’ve got to fit and take care of our feet, meet the individual demands of our running, and provide the cushioning and comfort for our workouts. With so many shoes on the market selecting the right shoes can be confusing.
Know Your Feet
Before you buy shoes get to know what type of feet you have. You can do this with a self exam and the wet test. Place your feet in water and then stand on paper to see the outline of your feet.
High Arched Feet
These feet leave an imprint thin at the midfoot. The arch looks high and pronounced. High Arched Feet generally supinate (roll outwards).
Shoe Requirements: These feet need a well cushioned shoe, rear foot stability and a padded arch high enough to give some arch support. The shoes are flexible with a soft midsole.
Flat Feet leave an imprint wide at the arch with little details. They have low arches and usually pronate (roll inwards) excessively. These feet can be very flexible and unstable.
Shoe Requirements: They need maximum motion controlled shoes with a high level of support and stability. These shoes are mostly inflexible, durable and heavy, to control the pronation.
This imprint shows a narrowing at the midfoot but not excessive and a slight curve inwards.
Shoe Requirements: Normal feet need shoes that provide overall stability, good arch support and some cushioning.
Where to Buy?
If you’re new to running, unsure of your feet type or have foot problems (supination or pronation) buy your shoes from a specialty running store. These stores usually have a salesperson that runs and knows how to fit you properly. Specialty running stores can advise you on the latest technology and updates from the shoe companies. What’s more they’re a good source of local information on running events, training and clubs.
Tips When Shopping
- Bring along your old shoes to assist the salesperson on your foot type and history.
- Shop in the afternoon when your feet are larger.
- Remember to take along orthotics (if you wear them) and your socks.
- Allow wiggle room for your toes. There should be no pressure on them. You’ll need toe room for down hill running and on hot days when your feet swell more.
- When in doubt buy the larger shoes and wear thicker socks.
- The heel should be cozy with no slip.
- Overall the shoes shouldn’t feel too tight or too loose.
- Try different brands to see what’s right for you.
- Test out the shoes, walk around the store and break into an easy jog if there’s room. Some stores let you have a test run outside if there’s a clean surface and you’re in sight.
- The shoes should feel ready to run in.
- Go with what feels good, only you’ll know if the shoes feel comfortable.
It’s not worth trying to save a few dollars by not regularly replacing your shoes. The accepted wisdom is to change shoes every 300-500 miles. This will depend on how often you run, how far and where you run, your weight and if you have any foot problems. It’s a good idea to make a note in your running log when you buy your shoes so you can track the mileage.
Monitor your shoes for signs of excessive wear but don’t wait until they’re looking too shabby. Replacing your shoes could help you avoid the frustration of spending weeks or months off injured and save you dollars in treatment.