ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How to Select a Running Shoe

Updated on June 30, 2012
Choosing the right running shoe can be a daunting task
Choosing the right running shoe can be a daunting task | Source

There are thousands of running shoes on the market. Road shoes, racing shoes, trail shoes, adventure shoes, and even the newer next to nothing minimalist shoes with individual rubber toes. If your new to running or think that your shoes might not be right for you, choosing the right shoe can be a daunting task. Even seasoned runners need to occasionally re-examine their shoe choices. However, before you chose a running shoe there are several important things that you must consider in order to find the correct shoe for your purpose.

Foot Type and Pronation

Knowing your foot type and pronation tendencies are the first steps in choosing a running shoe. There are two very distinct schools of thought on the topic of pronation . The first is that pronation should be controlled, through the use of support devices and shoe design, while the other considers any kind of pronation a natural motion that the body uses to absorb excess impact. While pronation is in fact a means that your body uses to control impact, severe overpronation or underpronation will lead to injury. Pronation tendencies will also change as your fitness, body weight/shape, and form improve. Runners who are just starting out will have more severe pronation issues that runners who are ready to tackle a marathon. Understanding your own body, and taking an honest look at your fitness, form and foot type (not convincing yourself that you run a certain way because you like a certain style or color of shoe) is very important.

Pronation Explained Further:

Pronation is path of your foot as it rolls from heel to toe through your foot strike while running. A neutral pronation is a foot that rolls straight forward through the foot strike. Overpronation occurs when you roll inward (toward your big toe) excessively, and underpronation (supination) is when you roll outward on your foot (toward your little toe) during the foot strike.

Low arches or 'flat feet' often result in overpronation to some degree, while high arches lead to underpronation. Most people have some idea of their foot style but an easy way to tell is to get your bare feet wet and walk (but do not not stand still) across a paper bag, dry concrete or a wood deck and observe the pattern the water leaves. The diagram below will help you with characterizing your foot type.


When looking at shoes based on your foot type the general rule of thumb is that the best choice for normal foot strikers are stability, neutral or cushioned shoes, for overpronators motion control and stability shoes are the best choice and for under pronators neutral and cushioned shoes are the preferred choice.

Shoes will be characterized on these basic concepts and in any magazine or online site it is easy to tell which shoes fall into your desired category. Once you have an idea of your foot type you can begin to narrow down the process to function. In regard to function there are important factors to consider when selecting a shoe. How many miles do you plan to run in them,? Are you planning to run on pavement or trails ? What is your overall body type is, could you stand to lose a few ppounds or are you thin as a rail?

Shoes with 'blown' (softer) rubber outsoles will provide a lot more cushioning, but will wear down faster, especially for heavier runners. Likewise, trail specific shoes often have much softer rubber on the outsoles to provide better grip and will also wear down quickly on pavement. However softer shoes help prevent injuries from the stress of of running, especially for beginning runners with less than perfect form. Heavier shoes with carbon rubber outsoles will last for many miles, but are not designed for racing, trails or faster workouts.

Some shoes are suited for a specific type of running
Some shoes are suited for a specific type of running | Source

Most dedicated runners have more than one pair of shoes, and the advice often given to me by coaches and trainers was that at over 35 miles of running per week, it is more cost effective and better for your shoes and body to rotate at least two pairs of shoes. The reason for this is that the cushioning systems, namely the foam and gel systems need more than 24 hours to fully 'recover' from the impact of running. Therefore running a lot of miles on a single pair of shoes will quickly deform the cushioning systems permanently and lead to greater potential for injury and break down the shoes very quickly.

If you run trails or workouts I recommend getting a dedicated pair of shoes for both. Workout shoes should be lighter, enabling you to go faster in the workout which will help your body to develop better form at speed and a feel for going faster. Trail shoes have great features like rock guards in the sole and sticky outsoles that will make you less likely to bruise your feet or slip in technical sections. They also dry quickly if you have to cross rivers or swampy sections.

When looking at new styles or if you are getting into the sport try not to buy shoes online unless you know exactly what you want. For teh best fit, go to a running or fitness store and get professional help in picking your shoes. Running places an incredible amount of stress on the body and getting the right shoes is a requirement, not an option if you want to have long term success or health and avoid injury problems. Once you know what you want, buying online can save you money and time. Yet, whenever I think of changing the style of my shoes I always go to a store and try several pairs on. A good salesmen understands that if you get the correct shoes you will be likely to come back.

There are a few things to consider further. Run in the shoes, take a jog around the store, make sure they don't pinch or rub anywhere. Make sure your toes are a 'thumbs width' (approximately) from the end, and able to spread as you run. Make sure the width is appropriaate and not too tight or loose for your foot. Finally, pay mind to the return poicy, many stores allow a no questions asked return within a few weeks, in case the shoes don't fit right or have a defect. If you findthat their is an issue, don't be shy about returning shoes for a new pair, it is your health that should matter above all.

Price is always a factor as well. Yet, don't go for the bargain shoes, just because they seem like a bargain. A cheap shoe from a known brand does not have the same cushioning or features as their 'top of the line' shoes. They may feel very similar on your foot, but they are priced differently for a reason. So don't skimp unless you have to, your body will thank you in the long run.

Think function not flash when choosing shoes
Think function not flash when choosing shoes | Source

A final word of advice is to ignore the brand names. Go for the shoes that work, and feel great. All the gimmicks and flash in the world won't make you faster or able to train harder. Colors won't matter in the middle of a 15 mile run, but a blister or foot pain will certainly be noticed. Choose your shoes on how they will help you run and not how they look.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • lindacee profile image

      Linda Chechar 

      6 years ago from Arizona

      Wow! Great information about selecting running shoes. Next time I will go to a specialty store and ask for expert help. Proper fit makes all the difference in the world!

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 

      6 years ago from San Francisco

      This is one of the best explanations of underpronation and overpronation I've read. Talk about a useful Hub! Thanks so much for the tips, charlesspock!

    • Emma Harvey profile image

      Emma Kisby 

      6 years ago from Berkshire, UK

      Wow, there is so much to take in on this subject. So many people would not be aware of the importance of having the right running shoes.

      I really need to get advice for myself, as I do go out running. I got myself a pair of brand name running shoes, thinking they would be ideal. But after reading your hub, this may not be the case. Thank you for an interesting read!


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)