How to Choose Running Shoes: Running Shoe Buyers Guide
“How to choose the best running shoes?” Gaurav asked me.
I was a little shocked because he is a better athlete than me.
But when he shared the experience of buying last running shoes and the problem he started facing. I realized the seriousness of the problem.
Choosing the wrong pair of shoes can cause many serious problems like
- You get bruised toes and toenails
- Your arches start aching
- You get blisters, calluses, and corns
- And many more.
So, I did extensive research and helped my brother in selecting the best running shoes for his need.
In this blog post, you will find all the details that I had considered choosing the best one.
Let’s see all the details below :
How To Choose Running Shoes That Fit Your Needs – 7 Simple Steps Buyers Guide
1. Know Your Foot Type
The very first thing that you should focus on before purchasing any running shoe is to know What is Your Foot Type.
But, here you might be thinking what exactly refers to the Foot Type?, Or what thing you should look in the foot type? Or why it is so important?
The answer is knowing Foot Arch Height.
And the simplest way to know your foot arch height is by performing a “Wet Test” and looking at your wet footprint.
To do this test, just wet your both feet and stand on a dry surface, it could be anything like a dry floor or a paper, just stand for at least 10 seconds until your feets left an imprint of your both feet on that surface.
There you will get any of the three arch heights of your feet that we have shown in the below image.
A) Low Arch Height
If your footprint does not show much of a curve along the inside of your foot and if your imprint looks like a complete foot it means you have a low arch height foot type.
So, in this case, a running shoe that has a low arch height insole will suit you best.
B) Normal Arch Height
If there is a less curve on your footprint along the inside of your foot and the middle portion of your arch is half-filled, then it means you have a normal arch height foot type.
So, in this case, look for those best running shoes that come with a medium arch height insole.
C) High Arch Height
If the curve covers more than half of the portion of your foot it means you have a high arch height foot type.
So, in this case, go with a running shoe that is designed with a high arch height insole that will minimize shocks and impacts during running and workouts and keeps your feet protected from being injured.
Read more about Foot Arch Height
2. Specify Your Type of Running Shoes OR Where Do You Plan To Run?
The second most important parameter that you need to keep in mind before buying any running shoe is to determine what type of running shoe you are looking for!
Or say what is the purpose of buying the best running shoe?
It is very important that you have to answer this question because there are different kinds of running shoes available which are designed for specific activities such as everyday running, workout, road running, and trail running.
Let’s discuss this more in detail:
A) Shoes For Everyday Running
Everyday running shoes are a type of running shoes that are designed for your everyday running and day to day activities.
They are a very common type of running shoes that can handle all the types of activities like running, walking, and jogging.
They are very durable and also very comfortable at the same time. Basically, you use this shoe for running and walking activities, and many times it can also be used as a casual shoe.
So, if you are dealing with everyday running, jogging, and walking activities then everyday running shoes are the best option for you to go with.
B) Lightweight Shoes For Gym Workouts, and Indoor Running
Lightweight running shoes are a type of shoes that are specifically designed for gym activities where you do exercise, workout, and also perform treadmill run.
This type of running shoes is less durable as compared to everyday running shoes but are very comfortable, lightweight, flexible, and designed with a soft outsole for better cushioning comfort.
Mainly, these shoes have a flat sole design with good ventilation from the upper portion that helps you in performing high-intensity workouts by keeping your feet deodorized.
C) Shoes For Plain Surface or Road Running
The road running shoes are specially designed for running on plain surfaces like concrete roads.
These shoes are very durable in nature and very comfortable to wear at the same time and designed with good cushioning keeping in mind.
Also, these shoes are very flexible and provide good stability control to the plain surface during running.
So, if you are an athlete or prefer morning running on plain surfaces these are the best running shoes that are worth considering.
D) Shoes For Trial or Rough Road Running
These shoes are specially designed for running on the rough surfaces, high terrain areas, and dirty roads having lots of ups and downs.
These are the most durable running shoes that are designed focusing on good support and stability in mind.
These shoes have the most rugged sole with a gripping design that not just provides safeguards to your feet from uneven shocks and impacts but also offers a solid grip and stability control to the surface.
So, if you are an outdoorsy type or love adventure, then these are the best running shoes that will surely suit your running purposes.
3. Choose Running Shoes With Right Fit
When it comes to choosing the best running shoes, the fitting of the shoes plays a major role, and firm fitting and grip is defined by a few things which are as follows:
A) Closure Type
The closure of a shoe generally is the lace or the strap of the shoe which helps you get your desired tight and gives you comfortability.
I am not going to bore you by saying have you ever seen lace of a shoe or anything else.
Coming back to the topic.
The closure of a shoe is classified into 2 categories which have furthermore classification, which is as follows.
- Lace-up Running Shoe Type
Laces are the soul of running shoes. Running or exercising shoes are meant to have laces. I don’t have to tell you what laces are. Are you savvy?
Having lace on a running shoe makes it easy to adjust the tightness and desired to fit according to your activity.
If you are performing the high-intensity activity, just tighten up the laces for a sturdy grip. If you are into low intensity running just loosen up the lace. It’s easy.
- Slip-on Running Shoe Type
Slip-on is the new generation of fitness and running shoes that are used by fitness freaks.
Unlike lace-up shoes, slip-on does not have lace to tighten or loosen up. It is without lace, all you need to do is just slip off your leg in the shoe, and you are ready for a morning run.
B) Forefoot/Toe Shape
The forefoot/ toe is the frontal part of a human toe sole which includes the fingers of the legs and the metatarsal bone.
The forefoot or toe shape of a running shoe plays a major role in flexibility, comfortability, spacing, and most importantly speedrunning.
You will find sports shoes in 2 major types which are as follows:
- Round toed shoe
The round toe shoes are designed in such a way that the toe part of the shoe is in round shape.
But what’s the benefit of a round-toed shoe?
Being round from the front gives the runner much space for the legs as well as comfortability while running and also the fingers don’t collapse while running.
- Pointed toed shoes
The pointed shoe is designed in such a way that it gives a pointed outlook just like a formal shoe.
You might have seen a soccer shoe which is pointed from the front. The major disadvantage is that they are not solely for running purposes as they are quite uncomfortable from the front.
The breathing is very less in such pointed toe shoes and with very minimal space for the legs to fit in, which might hurt the legs.
So which shoe is best for running purposes?
Well, the answer is already given, the ROUND TOE SHOES are the best for running purposes in terms of comfortability, spaciousness, and breathing also.
C) Heel-Toe Drop
The heel-to-toe drop is the height of the cushioning or in simple terms the difference between heel height and forefoot height which ranges from 0 mm to 12 mm.
For running shoes, the heel-toe drop doesn’t affect too much in the running, just consider comfortability as your first priority.
There can be 2 types of heel-toe drop types which are as follows:
- High heel-toe drop
The high heel-toe drop ranges from 7mm to 12 mm and best for runners who land on their heels first can go for high heel-toe drop shoes.
- Low heel-toe drop
The low heel-toe drop ranges from 0mm to 6mm and is suitable for runners who land on the forefeet or middle of the foot.
Out of High heel and low heel-toe drop, which one is best for me?
Well, it completely depends on your running style.
Also, many runners have a say that the low heel-toe shoes work for them as they can place their feet into a much more comfortable and natural position.
When you run barefoot, you have no elevated and supported heel, and also for the runners who land on their forefeet first, the high heel cushioning doesn’t make sense to them.
If you land on heels, you might need extra support for cushioning to resist impacts in the heel, that’s why you go for low heel-toe shoes.
Things to remember
- While Getting yourself a shoe, choose comfort over the heel-toe drop.
- Keep on changing shoes and drops for a perfect shoe for you.
- Calculate shoe drop by subtracting forefoot marking from heel marking.
4. Ensures for Best Cushioning Comfort
Running barefoot and running without a cushion is one and the same thing. Why would you invest in running shoes if it has no cushioning? Right?
For comfortability, relief in pain, softness in feet, feeling lightweight as a feather, restless running in the morning, and many more reasons.
All of these reasons are solely based on cushioning and comfort.
A) Upper Unit Construction
A part of a shoe that covers almost everything except the sole of a shoe. All of the part which is made of fabrics and mesh materials which are fixed together to cover the upper foot comes under upper construction.
A basic upper shoe can be made of the following types: Leather, synthetic, mesh, suede, canvas, and many more.
But being a runner, you must sweat a lot. So you need a shoe which is foul proof as well as breathable, flexible and comfortable while running.
For such an ideal running shoe, you must look for mesh or polyester which are highly breathable, or PU or Synthetic leather which stretches a bit.
B) Ankle Collar
The ankle collar is the rear portion of a shoe opening that keeps the heel firm and sturdy into the ground.
Have you ever tried loose-fitting shoes?
The ankle comes out of the shoe as soon as you take a step forward. Right?
That’s why ankle collar support is given to the shoes so that during the walk or run the ankle fits in the shoe firmly and steadily.
For runners, best would be to check the heels of a shoe aren’t slipping away, and also the heels are well padded to avoid pain.
The outsole is the lowermost sole of a shoe that is in contact with the road or track’s surface.
The outsole is a significant factor that needs to be considered while buying a running shoe.
An outsole of a shoe needs to resonate with the track. I mean, the outsole must grip well on the surface and provide good traction even on wet surfaces and must be lightweight for comfortability.
Which out sole material is best for running shoes?
For a running shoe, we would suggest you go for Rubber made outsoles as they are highly durable, flexible, traction on wet surfaces, and grips very well.
The midsole is the sole extra part between the outsole and insole and the place where your actual shoe is cushioning lies.
The midsole is solely responsible for absorbing shocks while running or sprinting.
For runners like you, the material of the midsole is very important if you don’t want to hurt your legs.
Which mid sole material is best for running shoes?
We would suggest looking for EVA made outsoles, as they are the most commonly used midsoles and provide you with stability and resist shocks and weight.
E) Inner sole
The insole is that part of a running shoe, which is in contact with feet and lies in between your feet and midsole.
The insole is a removable sole unlike the midsole and outsole which is worn mainly for warmth, and it acts as a deodorizer which soaks all the foul sweat smell and can be washed.
Being a runner, we sweat a LOT. And we need something which can soak all the foul smell and provide warmth. The insole is the thing we are talking about.
Which inner sole material is best for running shoes?
There are many insoles available in the market, for instance, superfeet insoles, soft soles, cork insoles, polysorb insoles.
F) Forefoot Cushioning
While midsoles are providing cushioning to everything lying above the ankle part, cushioning in the forefoot/toe region prevents the structure of the toe from damaging.
For runners, the toe region is solely responsible for the initial push while running. So taking care of the forefoot is a significant factor.
While buying a running shoe, you must look for the cushioning balance and the pushing off-platform.
G) Heel Cushioning
The heel is the back part of a human foot and is the main impacting area while jumping, doing warm-ups, and more such activities.
No one would want to hurt their heels before running. Right?
A shoe must have a heel cushioning to resist such high impact forces during warm-ups and other activities.
In a running shoe, you must look for a balance between stability and cushioning and must check if the shoe touches the surface as you wanted or not.
5. Know Your Pronation Control
A runner might know what pronation means if you don’t, let me explain it to you in simple terms.
Pronation defines how your feet naturally roll in as you are running and helps you absorb shocks on uneven ground.
If your feet roll too inward that term is called over-pronation which can cause problems to your lower body and back which includes feet, knees, and hips and decreases stability.
And if your feet roll too outward, that means you supinate which can cause the same problems and also decrease your balance control over the body.
How do I judge if I overpronate or supinate?
You need to notice a few things, which include:
- Pain in lower body parts after a run or a walk.
- Muscle tightness in the lower body after a walk or a run.
- Check your shoe, if the inside edge of the sole is heavier and shoes tilt inward on a normally flat surface. And for supinate check the outer edge of the shoe.
Check all of these possibilities, and if you have said yes. Then change your shoes and experiment.
How do I go neutral?
A neutral runner is the one who wears shoes in the center, and the center of mass is divided equally on the feet, which helps in stability and comfortability while running. And most importantly the neutral runners rarely get pain in the legs.
If you run supinated, you can wear any shoe just like a neutral runner does. But if you overpronate, there are many special running shoes with added extra support to stability. And if you want you can take an added arch support in normal neutral running shoes.
Knowing your pronation is a need for runners to run comfortability without any hurt or damage to the legs.
Read more on Pronation Control.
6. Flexible Running Shoes are Better Than the Stiff One
The flexibility of the shoe is one of the important factors that play a vital role in choosing the best running shoes. Most often seen that runners face many injuries due to wearing stiffer shoes.
Stiffer shoes are ones that are made from using sturdy materials and need to break in before using them comfortably. These shoes do not flex easily during running and not allow the wearer’s foot to move and react naturally.
We know flexibility and responsiveness of the shoe is very essential to run comfortably. Especially when running on roads such as concrete and asphalt, it becomes more necessary to run in comfort without feeling any foot-stress.
So choosing the lightweight and flexible shoe is very crucial as they are responsible to cushion and stabilize the feet during running on various surfaces.
This is why the best long-distance road running shoes are more cushioned, lighter, and flexible to offer less-impact & cushioned underfoot feel with responsive move on every step.
While the most durable trail running shoes are stiffer, heavy, less flexible, and less cushioned to provide more foot protection from abrasive elements and better stability on varied terrain surfaces.
7. Never Go Beyond Your Budget
This is very common that the more you pay for a running shoe the more quality features, comfort, and durability you will get. But that doesn’t mean you will not get these features on budget-friendly running shoes.
And you have to pay a high price in order to get these best features and quality comfort.
Of course, you will get the same features on affordable shoes and also you do not need to pay that much amount.
Because nowadays, there are several Indian and overseas brands available in the market with a wide variety of quality running shoes at an affordable price that starts from Rs. 1000 and varies up to Rs. 10000.
So, when buying the best running shoes in India, make sure you don’t forget to see the price of running shoes to check whether the shoe price is under your budget or not.
Here we conclude our buyers guide article on how to choose running shoes that fit your specific needs.
If you follow these 6 simple steps when buying a new running shoe for yourself, this will not only help you make your shoe buying journey less overwhelming but also help you get the best running shoe.
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