How does the old saying go? “All you need to run is a good pair of shoes” … or something along those lines.
It’s true, our sport requires minimal equipment (and if you run barefoot, you could run without any equipment at all). But a good pair of running shoes is absolutely crucial. Without good shoes, we risk blisters, calluses, and foot, ankle, and leg injuries that could sideline us for weeks or months.
It may be tempting to buy the shoes you see in a running magazine, the bright ones on sale at a race expo, or the ones your running partner swears by, but when it comes to running shoes there is no one size fits all option.
Running specialty stores get you ahead
There are a host of athletic shoes on the market, with special shoes made for running, walking, and aerobics, just to name a few. In each category –such as running — there are shoes made for support, control, and pronation needs (if your foot rolls inward or outward). Then there are multiple brands — some are known for running narrow or small, for instance – and even minimalist shoes (a middle-ground between running athletic shoes and going barefoot), so there really are endless shoe options available.
Finding a shoe that meets your requirements can be tricky, but it’s worth it. Once you find “your” shoe, running will feel much more comfortable. It’s worth it to take the time and go to a running specialty store to get fitted for a shoe. The shop’s knowledgeable staff can measure your feet, analyze your gait, and recommend certain shoes for your needs.
Tips for trying on shoes
Keep the following in mind when shopping for running shoes:
- Take in your old shoes. The wear on your old shoes tells the staff a lot about your foot and shoe needs.
- Tell the staff about past injuries or foot problems. This can help them pick out the ideal shoe for you.
- Get fitted for shoes at the end of the day. This is when your foot is the largest.
- Wear athletic socks, specifically the type you will wear with your new shoes.
- Tell the staff about your running habits. Trail runners need a trail-running specific shoe.
- Shoes should be comfy as soon as you put them on. You shouldn’t need to break them in.
- Make sure you can wiggle your toes. A good “rule of thumb” is that the width of your thumb should fit in the gap between your big toe and the tip of the shoe.
- Take them for a test spin. Some stores allow you to run in a pair of shoes before committing to them. If this isn’t an option, just take a few laps around the store before purchasing.
When to replace running shoes
Shoes wear down with use, so you’ll need to replace them often. In general, replace shoes after 300 to 500 miles of running. It’s also a good idea to only run in your running shoes. If you’re heading out for a walk or hitting the gym, wear a different pair of athletic shoes. This can help your running shoes last longer.
Do you have a favorite pair of running shoes? I’ve been wearing Brooks Adrenalines for more than ten years and have gone through more than 30 pairs of them! I’ve tested out other shoes, but I always go back to my trusted Adrenalines.
Written by Jen Matz.