Tips to choose the right Running Shoes for Runners
Choosing a running shoe is a very critical step in ensuring you enjoy running and stay injury free. Here is a quick guide to doing it.
When should you be buying shoes?
Starting to run - many prefer to start running with a sneaker that is available rather than buying a running shoe. Depending on the status of the shoe and running form chances of injury are high with a standard sneaker. Well begun is half done. Consider buying a good running shoe, it will also make running more interesting.
Running shoe needs replacement - When it needs replacement depends on usage (most shoes last 600-800km) & wear (condition of mid and outsole). Inspecting the midsole for folds, checking the bounce (elasticity) of midsole will also help identify when it needs to be changed.
Rotation for High Mileage Runners - If your weekly mileage is more than 40km it is a good idea to have 2 or 3 shoes and rotate them within the week. This will improve the life of the shoe and give a better bounce from the midsole.
What to consider before buying?
• Where are you running ? Road or Trail or Mix of both? Weather conditions (temperature, water on surface, water drainage if running through puddles).
• Distances / Speed - Choose a lighter shoe for hill repeats or high cushion shoe for slow long runs or a carbon plated race shoe
• Running form - There are multiple ways to determine your running form - based on wear pattern of older running shoe, by measuring foot arch height and of course video analysis while running. The analysis should give information on foot strike & pronation. A good store will help you determine these if you are not sure.
• Preferences - Would you like to use it for your gym as well? Do you want to have a minimalistic running form etc
• Measure your feet - things to measure
• Foot length
• Arch length
• Foot Width
• Arch Height (standing & sitting & difference)
•Above need to be measured for both feet
• Based on the answers to the questions to previous section a store personnel can recommend models
• Wear, walk, run on treadmill and decide
• (The above information is all specific to buying physically from a store. It is recommended to buy from a store after trying, or if you are very comfortable about a model used in past you can buy the same online. Do note that shoe sizes, midsole height/offset do change from year to year and expect minor changes even in the same model across model years.)
• The right time to measure feet is after 4 pm. The reason being that our feet expands as we stand and for most people with an average active day the max length is reached around this time.
• Shoe length should be measured while standing as the foot arch will slightly fall and feet will lengthen when standing.
• Shoes length is measured based on the longest toe. While most have the big toe as longest, occasionally the second toe may be longer.
• Shoes length have different units of measure - UK, US, EU, Japan etc. In the same units mens and Womens sizing is different. Ensure that you remember the unit and the size.
• Some models are available in Men's & Women's models.
Be mindful of the socks thickness as it can alter the fit. Carry the socks which you typically use when visiting the store.
• Ensure both feet are measured and always try both shoes. Variations in sizes between the two feet is possible and normal.
• Ensure that both length and width of the shoes are as per measurements.
• Carry old shoes, as the wear pattern on the old shoe can give ideas of your foot strike and pronation
• There should be about 1cm gap between the longest toe and the front of the shoe
• Ensure that the feet is not moving inside the shoe while walking or running
• Ensure that the heel (back) fits well and doesn't move while walking or running
• Carry comfortable running clothing to try the shoes when visiting the running store
• Consider how the shoe fits - shoes with a gazetted tongue have a better lockdown
After buying the shoe ensure you add it to your fitness tracking software like strava / Garmin Connect and use it to track the mileage of all your shoes. Shoe length (discussed already)
• Width (the standard sizing is in Alphabets, some brands use medium, Large, X Large to indicate widths as well)
•Offset - this is the difference in height of the shoe sole from the heel to the toe. Usually the heel is higher. For example a sole with 26mm height at heel and 22mm height at toes has a 4mm offset. 4mm or lower simulates barefoot or minimalist and encourages runners to have a more natural running form and a fore or mid foot landing.
• Neutral - these shoes are designed for runners who have a regular pronation. Pronation is a subject that needs a deeper discussion and will be discussed later.
• Stability - these shoes are designed to help people with over or under (supination) pronation. There may be differences in brands how they categorize shoes for runners with over or under pronation.
- written by Gokul Krishna - who started running two decades ago and never travels without a running shoe. Loves to study & analyse running form. A big fan of Shane Benzie and believes in the recommendations of running form as explained in his book "The Lost Art of Running"