One of the most important things to consider when you are first starting to run is what shoes you are wearing. Shoes can make a huge difference in injury prevention, performance, and enjoyment of running. This is not the time to pull out those ratty old gym shoes from high school P.E. Shoes are one important investment you need to make when you become a runner.
There are so many choices out there when it comes to running shoes and you will not find out what works for you unless you test them out. Finding a local running store can make all the difference in finding the perfect pair of shoes! Yes, you can often find many of the same shoes at big brand sporting good stores, but the difference is in the knowledge of the employees. Most employees at running stores know how to perfectly fit you to the right shoe based on your weight/height and how you run. They are also knowledgeable about the shoes themselves and how each feature may or may not work for you. Running stores will also have you test the shoe on a track or treadmill before deciding what shoe is for you.
You can be prepared when going in to buy new running shoes by understanding some of the basic terms and features of running shoes:
This is the difference between the height of the heel to the height of the toe. Heel drop shoes, or minimalist shoes, are pretty popular right now because they can help avoid heel striking (landing on the heel of your foot instead of landing mid foot). Traditional running shoes can have anywhere from a 12-15mm difference in your heel from your toes. The newer minimalist shoes have anywhere from a 4-10mm difference, and 0 drop shoes are neutral, meaning there is little to no difference between the height of the heel and the height of the toes (usually a 0-4mm difference). If you have never tried minimalist or zero drop shoes, you will want to transition into them slowly to be sure you do not injure yourself since they force you to run differently.
Pronate vs. Supinate
There are different shoes for runners that pronate, roll your feet in, and runners that supinate, or roll your feet out. If you are a pronator or a supinator (as opposed to being neutral), you will need a different type of stability in your shoes to run properly. There are also a lot of different types of shoes inserts to help with this also.
This is where your toes sit in the shoe and how it feels and how it is shaped will be different depending on the type of shoe you are wearing. You want to make sure you have a big enough toe box that your foot can sit flat and you can wiggle your toes. You should have a thumbnails size length between the end of the shoe and your longest toe. Your toes should not hit the top of the shoe.
Weight of Shoes
When you go into your local running store, pick up 5 pairs of shoes and feel the difference in how much they weigh. Some shoes weigh next to nothing while other shoes will be much heavier. If you are petite, there will be shoes that will be too heavy for you, whereas if you are more heavy set, light shoes may not give you the support you need.
There are a lot of different studies out there about what level of cushioning is best in running shoes to prevent injury. When trying on shoes, pay attention to the cushioning while you are testing the shoe to see what is the most comfortable for you.
Life of the shoe
How long you have before you need to replace your running shoes is going to depend on the shoe itself, how much you are running, and how you run, but most running shoes need replaced every 300-500 miles. Replacing your shoes often is important in preventing running injuries.
Good running shoes will make a huge difference in helping you reach your running goals. Be open minded when you go to a running store and take your time testing out a lot of different options so you can find what works best for you!
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Photo courtesy of Xans Eye Photography