There is no single running shoe that is perfect for everyone. What works for cousin Doris may not be suitable for you. Keep in mind everyone’s feet, arches, gait, and running biomechanics are different. Selecting the proper running shoe involves many variables. Some of the things to consider include:
First and Foremost – Determine if you need a NEUTRAL CUSHION running shoe or a STABILITY running shoe. Typically, persons with medium or high arches require a NEUTRAL CUSHION running shoe, and persons with low arches or flat feet require a STABILITY running shoe. Stability running shoes contain technology that is designed to correct overpronation. Overpronation is when you roll too much to the inside of your foot during your foot strike cycle. This normally happens when you have a low arch or flat foot. Have a knowledgeable staff member at a reputable running store determine if you OVER PRONATE.
Second, once you have determined if you need a Neutral Cushion or Stability running shoe then selecting a shoe model comes into play. For simplicity purposes, there are 3 types of running shoes:
- Traditional Everyday Running Shoes – This is the most common shoe. They offer good cushioning, durability, and are versatile to handle most surfaces (pavement, track, sidewalk, treadmill, hardened trail). They offer good structure under the foot and torsionally they do not twist. As for the DROP (or offset), they are usually between 6mm – 12mm. (The drop refers to how much higher the heel is compared to the forefoot, expressed in millimeters)
- Lightweight Running Shoes – These are lighter shoes, less cushioning, less durable, and usually less structure under the foot. These are commonly used for speed training and for racing and races. In many cases, they have a lower DROP as well. (i.e. 4mm) Very few Lightweight Shoes come in STABILITY models.
- Trail Running Shoes – These are best suited for trails and snow/ice. The sole typically features a more aggressive grip with teethier “lugs”. Trail shoes usually are more durable but featureless cushioning than Traditional Everyday running shoes. Very few Trail Shoes come in STABILITY models. Some models feature GORETEX to keep the feet dry.
Third, GET THE RIGHT FIT! A running shoe that doesn’t fit right will not only make your running experience painful, it could also lead to potential injury. Feet tend to spread as you run. They also tend to swell a bit throughout the day, so trying on your shoes in the afternoon or evening may provide a more accurate fit. To accommodate foot spread, there should be roughly one thumb width between the end of your foot and the end of the shoe. The shoe should not pinch or feel sloppy. It should fit comfortably around your foot. Some shoes may better accommodate a narrow or wide foot. Try on numerous models and go with the most comfortable, regardless of color or looks.