How to choose the right running shoes
When choosing running footwear, as with many things, one size does not fit all. The design of shoe that is best for you (and, more specifically, for your feet) will vary significantly depending on how far, how often and how seriously you run. It will also depend on the individual physiology of your feet.
Three of the most important things to ensure when choosing running shoes are that they fit your feet well, they provide adequate support, and they are robust enough to cope with the terrain over which you’re running.
• The importance of ensuring a good fit
Sometimes it’s hard to motivate oneself to go running, and if you know you’re almost certain to experience discomfort every time your foot hits the ground, you’re going to feel even less inclined than ever to pound along the pavements or across the park. So do your feet a favour and try several pairs of running shoes on before making your final decision.
• Why you may need support
There’s something fascinating about feet because each unique foot has its own idiosyncrasies. Try placing your wet foot on the floor and comparing it with the footprints left by other members of the family. You’ll notice that some feet are more in contact with the surface of the floor than others, which generally indicates that they pronate. Now a little pronation is a good thing, but if it’s excessive, your feet probably require more support, and you may even need special orthotics prescribed by a professional podiatrist.
Most people can obtain the support their feet require simply by choosing running trainers that have integrated cushioning in the midsole, preventing the foot from flattening itself too much while they run. Some fortunate individuals have fabulously strong feet and are able to run regularly wearing only the lightest and most flexible of running shoes, which is almost like running barefoot.
• Choose the right running shoes for the terrain
Check that the robustness, flexibility and grip of the footwear you choose are appropriate for the surface you’re running on – whether you’re doing an occasional sprint on a treadmill at the local gym, heading out for a five-mile park run on grass, training for a 26-mile marathon on tarmac, or facing a challenging course up and down a rock-strewn track in rough country.
Hill runners may find themselves struggling to keep their feet on slippery grass and mud, so they require shoes equipped with better grip, and more robust soles and uppers, than runners who prefer to restrict their athletic endeavours to a dry rubber conveyor belt. Road runners, on the other hand, require shoes with a combination of stability and flexibility, but they don’t require the same depth of grip as runners who venture off-road. When buying running shoes, it pays to remember what will be underfoot.