Finding the right running shoes can make or break your love for the sport and your ability to keep running for the long haul. Choose shoes that are built for where you run and that work for your foot shape and step. Consider these most important factors and you’ll be ready to hit the pavement!
The next time you get out of the tub or shower, check out the footprint that you leave. You’ll generally see one of three things.
High Arch: This footprint shows an extremely narrow outer edge, or sometimes looks like the ball of the foot and the heel are not connected. People with high arches under-pronate, or supinate when they run. In other words, the foot strikes more on the outside of the foot. The telltale sign is excessive wear on the outside of the bottom of your shoe. Shoes with flexibility and cushioning are ideal for high arched runners.
Low Arch: Runners with a low arch, characterized by a footprint that looks straight and wide are usually over pronators, which means that the foot rolls in with each stride. Motion control shoes have stiffer heels that control pronation and absorb shock as your feet pound on the ground.
Neutral Arch: With a footprint that looks like you’d expect, with a balance in size between the ball and heel of the foot, with a connected arch, a person with a neutral may have mild over or under pronation, but is not excessive. Cushioning shoes are great for these runners.
Where to Run?
Another important factor is where you’ll run. Trail running shoes are stronger and more protective. Road running shoes are more cushioned to stabilize and protect feet on hard surfaces.
Trail Running: Running trails means uneven terrain, dirt, rocks and slippery surfaces. Shoes made for trail running cater to the rugged nature of the run in more ways than their neutral colors that hide stains and dirt. Outsoles grip uneven surfaces to keep you from slipping. The lugs, or the treads on the bottom, help grip as well and protect feet from rocks, sticks, and other elements on the trail. The uppers are strong and protective. The inside of the shoe is not as built up as road running shoes are. Thanks to the varied terrain, protection is necessary, but arch support is not.
Road Runners: Pounding the pavement can be as comfortable as can be if the shoe fits! Shoes made for road running are flexible and aerating. The top of the shoe is best when it’s made with mesh to keep feet dry and odor free. That mesh keeps the shoes lightweight as well. Grips on the bottoms are intended to hang tight to asphalt. The midsoles should be cushioned, and should match the needs of your arch height.
Above all, don’t hesitate to head out to a running store and try on the shoes that will work for you. A good rule of thumb is to to replace your shoes every six months or when you’ve logged 300-500 miles. Once they are worn they offer less support, which could cause injury.