Ultimate Running Shoe Buyers Guide
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. For a detailed overview of your running action, and the different shoes available take a look at our comprehensive GUIDE TO CHOOSING THE CORRECT RUNNING SHOES
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!
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 – you have been warned.
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, which is where the complication starts but we have reviewed all our favorites in each category in our TOP 5 best shoe section – Take a look and let us help you make the best decision possible.
It is recommended to understand if you are a neutral or over-pronator and buy a shoe that suits your action. Again, in case you missed the link above – take a look at our Guide to Choosing The Correct Running Shoe.
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! Check out our video on how to tie your shoes up.
- 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 many options to choose from. There is a reason why runners tend to buy the same shoe, year after year, because once they find a shoe that fits their foot they stick with it!
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 running 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 TOP 5 list for each main category 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 an IPhone thumb injury, where you get a sore thumb by typing 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. But we also offer you that option to buy from the big accounts like Zappos, Amazon and Zalando if you want the option.
7. Please keep in touch and ask for advice
This is a community to help each other out. If you love a shoe, please leave a your own review on our site to help others decide.
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The ShoeGuide Team