Running Shoe Guide: Choosing Running Shoes
Are you wearing the right shoe?
I spent two years selling running shoes and came to learn how the right shoe will help you get the most out of your workout! It is also important to prevent injury. People who walk instead of run will benefit from wearing the same types of shoes. Running shoes are designed for forward motion (versus cross-trainers where you move in different directions like in tennis). Wearing a running shoe for walking will provide you with the same and much-needed benefits.
Many people don't know that they have different needs in their running shoes. You can spend $160 and still be wearing the wrong shoe. Yes, higher priced products tend to have better technology and features but it is not a guarantee. Also, finding last season's color in a shoe for 50% off the original price is an easy way to save!
If you have a very high arch, a flat foot, pain or discomfort, or the fit is just not right you may be wearing the wrong shoe. Get fitted at a store by an associate who is not paid on commission. Asics, Mizuno, Saucony, New Balance and Nike are reputable brands with great products. However, just because it is a name brand does not mean it meets your needs or is the best shoe in the market.
Start by looking at your feet. Wet the bottom of your foot and take a few steps. Look back at the water marks. If there is a large gap in the water mark where your arch would be, you have a medium or high arch. If you have a flat foot, the water mark will show where your arch is touches the ground.
For those with higher arches, a cushioned running shoe is usually recommended. Those with flat feet need extra stability. Leave room at the end of your toe. A small thumb's width usually works. We often fit children with larger sizes so they can grow into them, but this is not the best way to fit adults. If your toe touches the end of the shoe, it is too small. Your feet may swell when you work out.
Stability (motion control) running shoes provide extra support in the arch area with a more dense material in the sole. This does not mean the inside of the shoe will have a high, uncomfortable arch. The shoe will prevent you from rolling your foot inward called over-pronation.
Cushion shoes help assist those with very high arches from rolling their ankles and feet outward. Sometimes the insole provides a higher arch feel inside the shoe.
Neutral runners are those with no problems with rolling their feet in or out, and can wear a variety of shoes.
Shop for the right running shoe
You can identify a shoe with stability in some cases very easily. These shoes often have a different color on the material of the sole (like a grey) where the arch or heel area are on the inside of the foot. Labels on products may help, but store associates can be your best resource while shopping.
Everyone has different needs. If you feel you need to see a doctor about your concerns related to arthritis or pain in your legs or feet, please do. Shoes come in different widths. When you get measured at a store, your width will be determined as well. We are inclined to go up a size if a shoe is sung on the sides. If this is the case, you may just need a wider shoe. Widths range from very narrow such as AA and very wide such as EEE. For women, regular width is a B. For men the standard width is a D.
Between brands, each running shoe that address a special need will be around the same price level. If you were to rate support levels as 'medium', 'high', and 'extra high' the prices will relate. For example: Asics and Brooks both offer a high stability shoe for around $90 price, and they have similar benefits. The difference between brands is the fit. Some brands may have a shape that fits your foot better. There may not be many similarities in benefits between a $50 running shoe and a $100 running shoe (unless the $100 shoe was 50% off in an end-of-season sale!).
I have found the best places to shop are those with knowledgeable associates. These include places like Academy, Dick's Sporting Goods, Hibbett Sports, and brand stores like New Balance. In stores such as Foot Locker, the associates are more focused on fashion and I have not have the best experiences. Warehouse or discounters are great if you know what type of shoe you need and can shop by yourself.
- Nike + iPod Shoe Pedometer Sensor for Running Product Review
- Dr. Scholl's Custom Fit Orthotics Footmapping Machine In Local Stores
Dr. Scholl's Footmapping kiosk in stores so you can have a machine to recommend the correct custom insoles.
Differences between brands
Nike running shoes with air pockets on the bottom will pop if you step on something sharp. This feature makes shoes with large air bubbles a poor choice for trail running. Mizuno running shoes are knows for their "wave plate" technology. This wave plate runs length-wise in the shoes and is flexible to absorb shock. This is a similar theory to what you may think the Nike Shox do. Nike Shox are designed for neutral runners. If you over-pronate and wear Nike Shox you can risk injury in the ankle or knees. Mizuno uses 'wave plate" technology win combination of support materials for the stability running shoes. Nike does have stability shoes as well and many of these include a small air pocket for cushion in the sole as well as the denser material in the sole for support.
Asics running shoes use a gel substance (similar to Dr. Scholl's) for cushion in the shoe. This material absorbs shock and adds cushion in their products. Books running shoes use a plastic pocket of liquid material in the sole for cushion. This material is virtually indestructible and will last the longest in my opinion. Brooks also pride themselves in extremely durable out soles (the bottom) on their shoes which are made out of the same material as tires. The Asics brand have the softest in-sole. As in-soles wear out it becomes necessary to replace them over time. When you first slip a shoe on, the softness you feel is the insole.
The Saucony brand utilizes a patented "grid" design. This is a grid of woven wire-looking plastic pieces that absorb impact and provide cushion. Think of it like a woven trampoline but not as bouncy and a wider weave. Many other brands of running shoes exist and are great as well. Try on each type to see which feels best. New Balance running shoes also use a soft material for softness and are most widely known for offering an assortment of widths in many stores.
Look for running shoe sales
When you find a style and size that is right for you, look for the sales on running shoes. Each season there are color updates and model 7 may now be replaced with model 8 of the same shoe. For your first time shopping you do want to get fitted. Your size may not be the same as the dress shoe size you usually wear.
JCPenney honors coupons online, Academy sports had 50% off .88 ending shoes in stores for some sales, and Finish Line always has some models on their clearance rack.
Do look online. Some retailers show their inventory online that may be out of stock in a store. When you place an order it is from a warehouse in stock or is shipped from a store that does have the inventory.
Color or style may not be as important as fit and benefit. Do you want the pink pair that is full price because they are cute? Find the same style in another color that is less attractive and it may be on sale and decide how important the color really is. The discount you get on your shoe may be a bigger deal.
If you would like tips on how to find other shopping deals and save money, check out my other posts!