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LAVERA STEWARTEditor-in-Chief of the Approved By Coach
It’s never easy to pick shoes, because you have to pay attention to so many aspects – design, quality, and, most importantly, comfort. The last 2 aspects are especially important when we’re talking about running shoes. Why, you might ask? Because running shoes go under a lot more pressure than the normal shoes. You need them in order to achieve your goals, as well as to protect yourself from some issues.
So with that said: how to choose running shoes not to regret? The ones that will be a perfect fit for you? We recommend considering the following factors:
- First think of how much you run, and then how often.
- Keep in mind the terrain (streets, hills, off-road, etc.).
- Note the previous experience of buying similar models if it was successful.
So overall, if you wonder – what running shoes should I buy? – remember to pay attention to weight, biomechanics, foot type, and gait. These factors will help you find the best running shoes there are.
- 1 Running Shoe Categories – the Latest Market Offers
- 2 How Do You Run?
- 3 Running Shoe Features to Consider First
- 4 Running Shoe Midsoles
- 5 Running Shoe Outsoles
- 6 Heel-to-toe Drop
- 7 Heel Counter
- 8 Medial Post or Torsion Bar
- 9 Common Shoe-buying Mistakes & Rules to Avoid Them
- 10 Running Shoe Fitting Tips
Running Shoe Categories – the Latest Market Offers
There are many different types of running shoes on the market. But the 5 most popular ones are:
1. Lightweight Sneakers
We’re sure that this type will be indispensable for those sportspeople that prefer smooth tracks. They are perfect to go for fast and slow running over the diverse distances. And if you hike often, then having the best lightweight running shoes is also very useful.
Such models come with the cushioning features for more dynamic motion and contain less foam.
2. Trial Models
These are designed to run through the different landscapes with grass and mud that replace a paved road. Also where it’s necessary to overcome sand or off-road obstacles. Trial models do their job with ankle protection and prevent you from tripping over stones and roots. These shoes are also good for uneven and slippery surfaces.
3. Stability Shoes
You might be wondering – 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. However we don’t recommend stability running shoes for people with too much pronation.
4. Motion Control Running Shoes
These are designed for flat-footed runners and those who have high pronation. This is also a very good option for overweight people. They help avoid inward leaning of the foot and provide high stability due to the stiff heels. Their rigid construction and wide soles limit excessive motion.
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 for athletes 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 as well as the best type of running shoes to choose.
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.
And if you have mild pronators the best choice are neutral running shoes. There are also a lot of running shoes for wide feet that are even better for 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. They also help you stay dry in wet weather. The upper should also prevent rocks and dirt from going into the shoe.
The most often materials used are:
- 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.
Some other widespread materials are leather, suede, and canvas.
Running Shoe Midsoles
What makes a good running shoe except its upper? For that we need to look 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. It’s also worth noting that a lot of the best support running shoes use Shank. It is one more additional element to provide both protection and support to escape heel and arch’s injuries.
Running Shoe Outsoles
If you wonder – what to look for in running shoes along with uppers and midsoles then you should remember to pay special attention to the outsole. 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. So keep in mind – the outsole’s quality is the most important factor to consider when dealing with trail runners for almost impassable locations.
This 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 midfoot 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.
Also you need to pay attention to 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 incommon 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 – medial post or torsion bar. It’s a small detail that is made of plastic, EVA, a thermoplastic urethane or carbon fiber. And it 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 you need to keep in mind some recommendations, that will help you to select the best pair without overpaying:
1. Make sure to choose the right size
Some may think that it’s not much of a problem. After all – people try on sneakers before they buy them. And that’s true – when we’re dealing with normal footwear, like a pair of slippers, that’s not a big issue. However, the athletes’ feet tend to change their size depending on:
- Hard training.
- Some diseases, like rheumatoid arthritis.
With that said, the question is – how to find perfect running shoes with the proper size? Especially if you buy them online? Then you should follow the instructions of a manufacturer – they often share the size table to help you with that. Every model is unique, and the criteria for determining the right size may vary.
2. Don’t choose only based on design
“Beauty will save the world” but not your feet. Therefore, don’t choose running shoes because they just look good. That is not always a sign of a good quality.
3. Don’t go to generic stores
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 offers average models within the most popular segments.
4. Don’t rush
Much like any purchase, don’t rush purchasing running shoes. This must be a thoughtful and considerate decision.
5. Don’t try on shoes 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 people wonder how tight should running shoes be. So remember – the shoe must be snug on every part of the foot. Also check the shoes’ length while standing, sitting, and running and consider a half to a full thumb’s width of space.
You also have to consider your weight when choosing the model. Remember – the larger the weight, 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 choose some lighter models. Fortunately, most producers use advanced techs and materials to produce lighter items despite the plates, heel counters, and other additional elements.
Some manufacturers also provide their products with a special guarantee. So you can exchange the shoes within a certain number of days if they don’t meet your needs. It’s a great opportunity that will ease the process.
And we hope that we also managed to ease your choice. Just keep in mind these little tips, and we’re certain that you will find some best running shoes in no time!