A Guide To Buying Your Running Shoes
A DEFINITIVE GUIDE TO BUYING YOUR RUNNING SHOES
Thinking of buying your firsat pair of running shoes? Want some general advise from industry insiders? We have reviewed all the latest running shoes to make it easy for you, but before you start, read our Guide to Buying and Choosing the best running shoes for you.
1. Do I need a specialist running shoe or will my casual sneakers do?
Ideally yes, a technical running shoe is important if you are pretty keen on doing plenty running. There are benefits to having a technical running shoe, mostly because running brands make many different types of running shoes to suit individual running actions.
If you are thinking of taking up running, a good pair of running shoes will cost you less than a month of gym membership and running shoes last around 400-500 miles of normal use, so it is a wise investment. Plus, you will get them dirty, and who wants to get their fancy sneakers dirty? Running shoes love puddles and mud, fancy Nike’s definitely don’t!
When you run, you strike the ground with your heel at force of over 3 times your body weight, so the impact is considerable then times that by thousands of foot strikes per run, so a good shock absorbing shoe, and possibly some support if you need it should be an essential investment. Better to invest in shoes than cloths at the beginning would be our recommendation!
Here is a great video to explain the force impact that running causes!
2. Why do running shoes cost so much and why are they different prices?
You will pay some money towards the design and development of shoes, the moulds to make the complicated midsoles and outsoles are expensive, as are the materials that they are made of – because running shoes are more durable than fashion sneakers they can be expensive. Running shoes are complicated to make, and the quality of the materials is good, so expect to pay good money. A higher price, generally means better technology in shoes across every brand, but do not go for the most expensive or the cheapest, GO FOR THE SHOE THAT FITS YOUR FOOT BEST, AND SUITS YOUR RUNNING STYLE – check out our shoe wizard; it'll give you a head start on finding the right shoes for you..
Our best tip to buying a running shoe, is if you are not concerned by having the latest and greatest shoe, look for last year’s color or model of a shoe you like. They will be discounted, so you can pick up a top end shoe, for the price of a mid-tier version after the new shoe comes out!
WARNING – do not buy shoes older than 4 years, because the foam in the midsole and the glue holding the shoe together will degrade over time, (even in the box in the store room) and the quality of the shoe goes down rapidly!
Take a look at all our reviews and find a shoe you like, then see if we have a review of the older version – you can see the price difference in the buy now button on our site and maybe pick up a bargain.
3. What is the most important thing in a running shoe?
THE FIT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF A RUNNING SHOE – You must ensure that the shoe fits your foot. It sounds obvious, but if you run in shoes that do not fit well, you will end up with issues. Blisters, black toe nails, even no toenails are common, it can be a painful experience.
THE TYPE OF RUNNING SHOE IS IMPORTANT – Running shoes can seem complicated, but when you cut through all the crazy marketing you are going to buy either a NEUTRAL SHOE where the midsole is one density EVA , or a SUPPORT SHOE where the midsole has a harder foam on the inside to help stop your foot rolling in (over-pronation). There are different levels of support, from some gentle guidance features within the shoe to full-blown motion control features. Check out our best running shoes on the market guide here as we've brocken them down in to each category.
It is recommended to understand if you are a neutral or over-pronator and buy a shoe that suits your action. Take a look at our Guide to Choosing The Correct Running Shoe below.
Here are tips for best running shoes for your foot shape:
- Always lace up your shoe when trying them on. This locks the heel in place, and when you move around in them, YOUR HEEL SHOULD NOT LIFT UP FROM THE FOOTBED.
- Never lace the shoes too tight, or you risk damaging the bones in the top of your foot. Lace them from the bottom holes and work your way up so the pressure is even over the whole foot. Too many people just pull the top lace tight and it creates huge pressure on the top of your foot!
- Have at least half a thumb space at the front of the shoe – your toes should NOT TOUCH THE END OF THE SHOE. When you run, your feet will get hot from pounding and friction in the shoes, and they will swell a little – so you need to allow for this extra space or you risk losing a toe nail!
- Not all shoes are the same length and same width. E.G. A US 9 from Nike is a different length than a US 9 from Adidas, each shoe is an individual fit and feel, so you have options to choose from. There is a reason why runners tend to buy the same shoe, year after year, once they find a shoe that fits their foot!
It all sounds obvious, but you are going to strike the ground thousands of times in the shoes, so they need to feel great when you put them on. ANY CONCERNS about the way they feel, from length, to hot spots (can you feel the upper rubbing) – try a different pair to compare.
4. Running Shoes for Beginners
There are NO BEST RUNNING SHOES FOR BEGINNERS or best running shoes for elite athletes – the best running shoe is the shoe that fits you personally, at a price that you are willing to pay!
The best example I can give you of running in the shoe that suits you best is from my days working at Adidas as the Sports Marketing Manager. We sponsored the best distance runner in the world, Haile Gebrselassie who broke most of his world records in the most entry level kids running spikes that Adidas made. He loved the shoes and did not want to wear anything else. We just had to make a cool looking upper, or the higher priced shoes would not have sold!
We test and run in over 100 pairs of running shoes per year, to try to bring you the best advice possible. Our Best Shoes of 2020 is the best place to look for a quick overview, or use our SHOE WIZARD to help us give you a personal selection to find a shoe that suits you.
5. How many running shoes do I need?
Maybe a strange question but it is very relevant! Running is very repetitive, and overuse injuries are common. You strike the ground and push off almost exactly the same each stride, time after time after time. Having more than one pair of running shoes that are different can seriously help this issue, as you will run, land and take off slightly different, in different shoes – which could really help the micro fatigue issues caused by repetition – the modern equivalent is IPHONE THUMB, where you get a sore thumb by tying the same day after day – same principle.
So, if possible alternate your running shoes day after day. It will also be a huge advantage in winter, when more than likely your shoes will get wet – which means they lose cushioning properties. Letting them dry out, and alternating is highly advisable.
Who does not want more than one pair of beautiful running shoes – here is your perfect excuse!
6. Best Running Shoe Stores - we recommend...
With all the information on our site, it will make it easy for you to buy a shoe on line. Next to each review, we have a link to our favorite running stores where you can support great running specialist stores by purchasing from them.
7. Please help the running community and leave a review
This is a community and we should help each other out. If you love a shoe, please leave a review of your own to help others decide. If you dislike the shoe, tell us!
If you want to contact us directly – email us at email@example.com
Sign up to our web community, and we can inform you of all the best info on the web about running shoes and more.
A Guide to Choosing Your Running Shoes
For any runner the most important part of their running kit is what they wear on their feet. Whether you call them running shoes, trainers, sneakers, runners, or anything else for that matter, they are what is protecting you from the hammering of your feet hitting the ground and are also responsible for dealing with all kinds of other twisting and shearing forces that are generated as you run.
Of course, no two people are the same. You may be looking to run for 10min on the treadmill, take on a 10K race at full blast or to churn out a long run across the fells. You may be large or small, male or female, slow or speedy. What you need are running shoes to suit YOU. Your trainers must be what YOU need for YOUR running.
We can help you work out what kind of shoes you need. Then you can look at our extensive listings to find out which running shoe is right for you.
But first of all finding the right pair of running shoes means knowing your own needs.
Whether you are road running, treadmill running or running anywhere else a key factor will be your own personal biomechanics.
When your foot hits the ground it is likely to be landing on the outside of the heel. Your foot then rolls inwards to be flat on the ground. This rolling motion, called 'pronation', absorbs shock and gives you balance as you run.
It is very common for a runner to have their foot roll too far as they run. This is called 'over-pronation'. To work out whether you over-pronate is quite straight forward and there is no need to worry if you find you are an 'over-pronator'. It is a very common trait and there are plenty of shoes designed to help manage your footstrike, keep you comfortable and help you avoid injury.
The old shoe test
Take a look at a pair of your old shoes to see what kind of shoes you need:
- Stand them on a level surface and look at them from behind the heel.
- If you over-pronate your shoes will show a slight inward lean. You need support shoes or motion control shoes if you feet roll too far. (Many people make the mistake of looking at wear on the outsole at the outside of the heel and thinking they don't over-pronate. This wear is caused on landing and does not relate to pronation)
- Under-pronation is when a runner's foot does not roll far enough. If you under-pronate your shoes will show a slight outwards lean. Choose a pair of cushioning shoes.
- Correct pronation means there won't be any lean. Your feet are said to be neutral. You should choose neutral shoes.
- A final thing to consider. If you have run in support shoes in the past, not had injury problems and your shoes show no signs of inwards lean it probably means you do need support shoes but the shoes have successfully prevented the over-pronation in the past.
The wet foot test
An alternative way of being guided as to what type of shoe you'll need is the wet foot test.
With damp feet leave a barefoot print on a tiled floor (don't use a soft floor or carpet).
If you have a 'flat foot' it shows you have a low arch. Your foot print will show almost the whole sole of your foot with the band between heel and forefoot virtually the full width of your foot. Low arches usually indicate your feet are prone to over-pronation.
If you have a 'regular' arch the band between heel and forefoot will be around half the width of your foot. There is less likely to be a problem with over-pronation.
If you have a high arch you will see only a narrow band, or even no band at all, between the forefoot and the heel on your wet foot print. This indicates a high likelihood of under-pronation. You too should choose a neutral shoe.
Consider your footstrike
Runners also vary in where their feet hit the ground. Most people heel strike. This means their foot hits the ground heel first before they roll forwards and off their toes.
A forefoot striker lands on the forefoot, they may then rock back onto the heel before moving forwards off the forefoot.
A midfoot striker lands with their foot heel and forefoot landing together.
A forefoot striker will need more forefoot cushioning as the forefoot is taking the initial impact force as well as the forces generated by toe-off. You will also find that as you run faster you will run more and more on your forefoot with the heel having less contact with the ground.
The shoe categories
We can divide running shoes into the following categories:
Neutral - These trainers are for runners who are neutral or under-pronate (supinate). Some shoes in this category may also be suitable for mild over-pronators. Under-pronators should look for a flexible pair of well cushioned neutral shoes.
Support - These still have the same kind of cushioning technologies as neutral shoes but in addition to this they have features to give extra support and guidance to slow and reduce over-pronation.
Motion Control - People who over-pronate more severely and heavier runners who over-pronate can choose these shoes that provide extra support and guidance.
Trail - specifically designed for off road running.
Lightweights - for use in fast training or racing. Less protection than regular training shoes. These shoes are also either neutral or supportive.
Racers - Made for racing or very fast training (eg track work). These shoes are very light but offer limited protection. Some offer some support for over-pronators.
To find out all about the shoes in each of these categories see our guide to running shoes where we review the trainers to let you know what is suitable for which uses.
General advice for buying shoes
There are some steps that you can take when buying your running shoes from a shop that can make sure you buy a good pair that will suit your running:
- Leave a thumb's width at the end of the shoe rather than going for a really snug fit. This will allow for the swelling of your feet and movement within the shoe which takes place as you run. You will probably buy a bigger size for trainers than for your regular shoes
- Buy when the shop is quiet. Saturdays can be busy so it is harder to take your time trying on the shoes and deciding
- When you go to the shop take along your normal running or sports socks. Put them on to trying your trainers on so you get the right sense of feel and fit
- Buy shoes in the afternoon or evening. Your feet swell slightly through the day so this will help get the fit right
- If the shop you go to offers an assessment using a forceplate or treadmill this is a good thing. But check the qualifications of the person doing the assessment. The most vital part of the assessment is the skill of the person doing it and their reading of the results.