How to Choose Running Shoes – The Guide from A to ZLast Updated: 30 Apr 2019
If you run off your feet searching for the running shoes, here is the ultimate guide on how to choose the right pair to meet your running needs and preferences. You’ll find out the crucial moment to pay attention to them while trying the sneakers on.
Choosing the best pair is not easy. Considering both their appearance, quality, and level of comfort is important. The determinant of the choice is the model’s ability to let you achieve your running goals and to succeed in running for many miles without scabs and unhealthy heaviness in both of your legs.
So, how to choose running shoes not to regret? We recommend considering the following factors:
- Think of the running objectives in term of the distance first, then in the view of frequency.
- Keep in mind the terrain (streets, hills, off-road, etc.).
- Note the previous experience of buying similar models if it was successful.
When asking about “what running shoes should I buy”, weight, biomechanics, foot type, and gait are meaningful to avoid pain and injury. While choosing running shoes pay attention to the stores as well – their range of models and interested staff.
Running Shoe Categories – The Latest Market Offers
There are various types of running shoes on the market. We decided to introduce 5 of them that may fit your workout wardrobe and improve training efficiency.
1. Lightweight Sneakers
We’re sure that this type will be indispensable for those sportsmen that prefer smooth tracks to race or do speed work. They are perfect to go in for Fartlek where the runners perform boots of fast and slow running over the diverse distances. The best lightweight running shoes are also great for competitions and intensive intervals.
Such models come with the cushioning features for more dynamic motion and contain less foam. However, they’re not proper running shoes for general training or for early stages in the training program.
2. Trial Models
These runners are designed to run through the different landscapes where grass and mud replace a paved road, where there is a necessity to overcome sand or off-road obstacles. They do their job with ankle protection and prevent you from tripping over stones and roots. Those runners are also good for uneven and slippery surfaces.
3. Stability Shoes
What are stability running shoes? They are the trainers that can provide both midsole cushioning and good support. Those models deliver enough arch and ankle support throughout the gait cycle but we won’t recommend stability running shoes for people with too much pronation.
4. Motion Control Running Shoes
They are designed for flat-footed runners and for those who have hard pronation, as well as for the overweight people. They help escape inward leaning of the foot and provide high stability due to the stiff heels. Their rigid construction and wide soles limit excessive motion. Check the list of the best women and men’s models for overpronation.
5. Cushioned Runners
This type doesn’t fix the foot or correct the running gait. Cushioned models come with shock dispersion features in the heel or forefoot areas. We’d recommend them for high arches but not sportsmen with pronation. Those smooth rides relate to the perceived comfort of a shoe. The high-quality running shoes from this category should provide the right level of cushioning—not too little, not too much.
How Do You Run?
The foot composition and gait determine the running style. Some sportsmen have neutral pronation, some of them have over-pronation or under-pronation, and the other is barefooted.
For example, stability models fit those with the mild to moderate over-pronation while motion control trainers are good for people with moderate or severe over-pronation. Lightweight models have small arch support, a heel drop of just 4–8mm, some cushioning, and flex. They allow saving natural motion during the running.
Now, we’d like to stress what is a neutral running shoe. These models are designed for mild pronators and running shoes for wide feet are even better for neutral sportsmen and athletes that supinate.
Running Shoe Features to Consider First
Running Shoe Uppers
The upper is the top part of the shoe that is necessary to fix your foot firmly inside. Good running shoes usually have soft, form-fitting, and breathable materials in the upper. Their main task is to keep the feet cool and in the correct position, as well as dry in wet weather. The upper should also prevent rocks and dirt from going into the shoe. Let’s deal with often used materials.
- Synthetic leather for durability, support, and reinforcement.
- Mesh for better air conditioning for your feet (sometimes, the mesh can include some rubber elements).
- Knits for a smooth feel and to no skin irritations/scuffs.
- Reflective details are integrated into the models to provide safe running at nighttime.
The other less popular but still widespread materials are leather, suede, and canvas.
Running Shoe Midsoles
What makes a good running shoe except its upper? Let’s jump deeper into the midsole that is located between the upper and the outsole. Note that is the most crucial part of any model for providing the right level of cushioning and stability. The midsole is usually made of the closed cell foam EVA. However, such market giants as Adidas and BASF started promoting Boost TPU foam midsoles where the air bubbles are implemented into the plastic. Nike prefers to use a firm polyurethane midsole for maximum protection from impact.
All flexible running shoes contain cushioning and stability units that the manufacturers either place within the midsole or attach to them. The most widespread cushioning systems use the boost, encapsulated air or gel. The other advanced techs use the same basic materials but on a higher level. For example, Asics focuses on growth in the size of the gel that is made of soft elastomer. Puma practices direct-inject molding and additional automobile-grade foam in the heels.
Some sneakers come with the plates to the bottom of the foot while running over rocks, roots and other natural obstacles. The plates are usually made of thermoplastic polyurethane or nylon. Shank is used in the best support running shoes. It is one more additional element to provide both protection and support to escape heel and arch’s injuries.
Running Shoe Outsoles
What to look for in running shoes along with uppers and midsoles? Certainly, the outsole is one more component to consider before buying sneakers. This is their lowest surface that makes contact with the ground.
Some companies produce carbon rubber outsoles to provide durability and the others prefer blown rubber to ensure good cushioning and flexibility. However, there are plenty of models on the market with mixed tech. It is usually implemented as a combining of both types of rubber. The outsole’s quality is the most important factor of choice when dealing with trail runners for almost impassable locations.
It is the difference between the height of the heel and the height of the toe. This parameter determines the way your foot contacts the ground when it drops on the ground while running. A higher heel drop encourages the heel’s first contact with the ground while the smaller one provokes forefoot or mid-foot strike.
Racing sneakers have a minimal heel-to-toe drop as well as the minimal support at the same time. The low and the middle parameter is in the range of from 0 up to 8 mm while high-drop models can reach 12 mm.
We’d like you to consider the independence between a heel-to-toe drop and the level of cushioning. Some sneakers with great cushioning can come with the lowest drop.
Heel counters are necessary to connect the heel of the foot to the shoe. This element is usually made of hard plastic or a tiny tab of additional fabric. That is the less influential factor that hasn’t much in common with the running shoes’ quality. Sometimes, heel counters even increase the weight of the model. However, they’re rather helpful for those who suffered from Achilles tendonitis.
Medial Post or Torsion Bar
While thinking of “what running shoes are best for me?” don’t forget about one important element that is called medial post or torsion bar sometimes. It’s a small detail that is made of plastic, EVA, a thermoplastic urethane or carbon fiber. Its claims to reduce over-pronation.
The manufacturers place it within the midsole and make them of different sizes to ensure different levels of stability in motion control models. The shoes are getting less lightweight but it is normal. Note that cushioned or neutral shoes don’t come with the torsion bars.
Common Shoe-Buying Mistakes & Rules to Avoid Them
The question of how to choose running shoes for beginners can be a challenge. That’s why the following recommendations will be helpful to select the best pair and not to overpay.
1. Poor attention to the size
Is it really possible? Everybody knows his/her size and usually tries the sneakers on before taking them. What’s the problem? When dealing with a pair of slippers, it’s ok – no problems. However, the athletes’ feet use to change its size that depends on different circumstances.
- Hard training.
We can continue this list with rheumatoid arthritis and other diseases that can lead to the larger foot size. How to find perfect running shoes with the proper size if you use to buy online? In this case, one should keep in mind that every manufacturer has its own size table.
2. Looking at the design only
“Beauty will save the world” but not your feet. Therefore, we’d not recommend heeding social media friends or influencers blindly. Stylish look doesn’t ensure the runners’ quality.
3. Applying for the generic shops
Only specialized stores have staff that is able to understand your running style and gait and to pick up the proper pair. Generic shops can have a wide range of goods but it is usually mass and offer average models within the most popular segments.
4. Delay a decision to buy
Some sportsmen can’t break things off with their favorite pair of running shoes. However, they imply certain expiration date – up to half a year of wearing and no more than 400 to 500 miles of the run.
5. Trying the shoes on in the morning
It is better to try the shoes on in the evening and put on the running socks before. Try to use special socks for running that can deliver more comfort and provide additional support inside the shoes.
Running Shoe Fitting Tips
Many customers are interested in how tight should running shoes be. First, one should feel snug in every part of the foot. Check the shoes’ length while standing, sitting, and running and consider a half to a full thumb’s width of space.
The level of comfort is a guiding principle but not the thoughts about the magic of shoes. They’re just a tool but they cannot enhance your sports results from scratch. The model you’ve chosen should work in the best way with your body.
Don’t identify your sneakers with the casual pair of shoes. Their features and characteristics are quite different and imply the running shoes being bigger in size. Little or no slipping at the heel is permitted but a secure and comfortable fit through the midfoot is required.
Consider your weight when choosing the model. The larger weight you have the bigger support you need. The shoes’ weight is also important. For example, if you’re going to run for plenty of miles, you should pay attention to the lighter models. Fortunately, most popular manufacturers use advanced techs and materials to produce lighter items despite the plates, heel counters, and other additional elements.
Some manufacturers provide their products with a special guarantee to let the customers test the model to know for sure whether he/she likes them or not. In this case, you can hit the road in the new shoes and exchange them within a certain number of days if the shoes don’t meet your needs. It’s a great opportunity that ensures the right choice.