Hopefully, by now you’re ready to get out there and run, but before you do, you need to figure out a good pair of running shoes.
I used to sell shoes for a time in my life, so it became like second nature to me, finding the best running shoes for beginners or the right type of running shoe for an individual. There were times when people would want to know which shoes are the latest and greatest, or the most fashionable, but really, the better question to ask is:
“What is the best running shoes for me?”
For the most part, when looking for a good everyday training shoe, it’s going to vary for each individual, mainly depending on what type of gait you have, which means how your feet initially strike the ground.
There is one out of three different types of foot strikes that you will fall under. I’ll explain more in the next section.
Three Different Types of Foot Strikes
- Neutral: This is a normal foot strike where your foot will naturally roll inward, just a little. This slight roll is a good thing because it allows for a natural shock absorbency with some give, instead of hitting the surface with such a hard impact.
Imagine a car not having any shocks. So, just like your feet, it needs shocks too, for a more comfortable and forgiving landing. This also keeps your ankles and legs aligned properly, making you less susceptible to injuries.
If this sounds like you then a neutral running shoe is the best fit for you.
- Pronation: Here is where your foot will roll inward more than just a little amount. The more your foot rolls inward, the more your ankles and legs become unaligned, causing a strain to your ankles and legs, and even your upper body, potentially causing injury.
There are also different levels of pronation: mild, medium, to extreme, extreme being completely flat-footed with no arch. But don’t worry, getting the right type of running shoes will help you correct your gait to a more neutral position.
- Supination (also known as under pronation): This is the complete opposite of pronation. It’s when your foot rolls outward instead of inward from the ankle. Higher arches than neutral or normal arches cause feet to supinate. This is less common than neutral and pronation, but it still occurs in some cases.
You can refer to the illustration below for each foot strike. All three types shown is with the right foot.
Each pair of running shoes are made with different levels of arch support and cushion to help correct either inward or outward rolling. Thankfully, running shoe companies have been making technologically advanced shoes to accommodate for all types of feet.
How to Get Your Gait Checked
There are several ways you can do this:
- Wet foot test: This is a self-test that you can do at home. Just wet the bottom of your foot and then place it on a piece of paper or on a surface where you can see the footprint easily.
You will have something similar to either of the 3 illustrations.
Also remember, there are different levels of pronation, so you may have a footprint width that falls in between the normal (Neutral) and flat (Pronation) arch.
- Wear test: This is another test you can do yourself. Get a pair of your own shoes (if you have your own running shoes, look at those) that have been used for a significant amount of time or worn out a lot and look at the soles to see where most of it is worn out. You will see something like one of the three pictures below. (All three pictures are of the right-side shoe).
- Go to your local running store: Employees typically perform a gait analysis test to determine what type of arch you have free of charge.
They’ll have you run outside or on a treadmill, and may even capture your gait on video to play in slow motion for you and the employee to analyze together for a better diagnosis. From there, they’ll guide you to the best running shoes for you.
- Find a professional podiatrist: You may not have access to a running store, but a podiatrist specializes in diagnosing your feet.
Getting your gait checked, or finding out your footstrike is something very important, that shouldn’t be overlooked. The last thing you want happening is wearing the wrong shoe for your feet because it’s giving you too much or too little support.
As I said earlier, you don’t want to cause any pain and/or injury to yourself because of wearing the wrong shoes for your feet.
Taking care and preserving your feet is key. Think of all the steps you take just walking, let alone running.
Once your arch weakens and gets lower, there’s no way to strengthen them and get them back up. They’re delicate! So, keep your feet happy and take care of them, on and off the running path.
I also want to cover some other questions you may be wondering about running shoes:
How Many Miles Should Running Shoes Last?
It really depends on what type of running shoes you have. If you have an everyday running shoe for training, with more thickness and durability in the sole then it can range from 300-500 miles.
You can either keep track of your mileage, or you can see the outsole tread for yourself of how worn it is.
Factors that can contribute to how long it can last are body weight (the lighter you are, then more it can potentially last), running on more forgiving or softer surfaces like trails, dirt roads, grass, etc., and how you store them (preferably in a room-temperature area away from direct sunlight).
There’s one other way you can maximize the mileage. One great idea is having two pairs of shoes to train in and then alternating them every other day to give each a rest between runs.
Other Running Shoe Tips
When it comes to caring for your shoes, I wouldn’t suggest washing them in the washing machine. This can really damage the quality.
If you like to wash your shoes to smell or/and look good, then use mild soap with a cloth to manually wash them.
There will come a time when you’ll have to throw in the towel and say good-bye to your pair of running shoes.
It’s not a good idea to keep using them if they’ve ran out of mileage. It can be hard on your body, which could lead to unwanted aches, pains, and injuries.
It’s just not worth it to keep running in them, even if you are trying to save some money. You may end up with more expensive injuries than what you’d be paying for a brand-new pair, for not changing them out.
The size you should get should have your thumbnail length from the tip of your big toe and tip of the shoe. When you exercise, your feet naturally swell up, so that room is going to help for a more comfortable, unrestricted, and safe fit.
There may be times when you find a running shoe you like, but it’s for the other gender. For example, if you’re a woman and want to wear a man’s running shoe, then just go down 1.5 sizes. In US size, I’m a size 7, so I’d be a 5.5 in men’s.
It’s also visa versa for men. If you’re a man wanting a women’s running shoe, just go up 1.5 sizes. You may switch gender shoes because you just like them or may find you have a wider or thinner foot than normal.
Now, I’ve talked about getting shoes based on the type of gait or foot strike you have, but there’s also different types of running shoes, depending on distance you want to run, running road vs. trail, racing flats for races, if you want more of a lightweight running shoe, a firm ride for speed, or prefer more cushion for support and comfort.
Some of these shoes may not offer the arch support you need for your gait, but you can use your own judgment, and look into using shoe inserts or orthotics to make up for it.
A safe choice or a good start for running for beginners is one with good cushion, durability, and your level of arch support.
I hope this has helped move you in the right direction to getting running shoes that are right for you. Remember to take care of your feet and body and figure out your running strike to find your perfect “SOLEmate.”
Please leave a comment or questions on anything I’ve covered, or even let me know what you’d like me to post about next. If you choose instead, shoot us an email for any further help you may have.
Happy Shoe Hunting,