What to Look For in a Running Shoe

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Finding the right running shoe is key to helping you stay comfortable while running because the right shoes can support your feet and legs. Meanwhile, the wrong shoes can leave you aching in pain. Choosing the right running shoe can help prevent injuries, so it’s always a good idea to spend some time researching the right shoes for you based on your needs. 

Before you start shopping for shoes, you’ll need to consider a couple of factors, like how well they support your feet and what you want them to look like. You may also want to look at your current running shoes to see where there are signs of wear. For example, if you have wear on the inside or outside of the sole, it can affect how you choose your next favorite pair of shoes. This article will discuss a few things you should consider when choosing your women or mens running shoes.              

The Fit 

How your shoes fit will affect how they feel while you’re using them. Running shoes are designed with purpose, so every part of the shoe does something to support you while you run. Even the slightest change in how a shoe fits can affect your performance. The parts of the shoe that affect the fit include: 

  • Upper: The upper is usually made of mesh and other fabric to cover the top of your toes and feet. Uppers should be smooth to reduce blisters. 
  • Outer: The outer provides you with protection and durability to form the shape of the shoe. However, the more durable the outer, the more it’s going to weigh, so depending on where you run, you might not need as heavy an outer, especially if you prefer a more natural feel. 
  • Midsole: The midsole is a cushioning between the outer and upper that cushions the foot from impact every time you hit the ground running. Everyone needs different levels of cushioning depending on their needs. For example, if you have a high arch, you might prefer more cushioning to support the shape of your foot. 
  • Toe box: The toe box is the end of the shoe where your toes are in the shoe. Your toes should not feel squished when you’re running.

Where You Run

If you run on the street or sidewalk versus unpaved trails, you’ll need a completely different type of running shoe. Similarly with gyms, if you plan on doing strength exercises after your treadmill run, you’ll need the right shoes. For example, if you’re running on the road, you’ll need shoes that give you traction because a smooth road can be slippery, especially when wet from morning dew. Road running shoes protect your bones, tendons, and muscles from the impact on hard surfaces, and they’re also great for indoor running on a treadmill versus unpaved trails, particularly on multi-day running holidays, you’ll need a completely different type of running shoe. 

On the other hand, trail running shoes are designed for running on uneven and rocky surfaces. They have grippy soles and provide extra traction. They also provide additional protection for the heels to prevent rolling your ankle as you run on unpaved trails. Wherever you decide to run, make sure you apply sunscreen to keep your skin safe and protected.

Gait and Running Style

Running shoes are designed to prevent overpronation or rolling, but it all depends on your gait and running style. Your shoe shouldn’t try to correct how you run. Instead, it should offer support and stability for the way you run. For example, If you overpronate, you might need to find a shoe that offers more stability. 

Overpronation occurs when your foot naturally rolls inward, while pronation occurs when the foot rolls inward when you hit the ground. You’ll see different wear on your shoes depending on whether you overpronate or under pronate. If you over or under pronate, you’ll need a specific running shoe to help you remain stable to prevent too much wear on the shoe in a short amount of time. 

Arches

The type of arch you have may affect many aspects of your running shoe. For example, if you have a high arch, your foot likely rolls to the outside, and you will need more cushioning and stability features to support the arch and keep your feet in proper alignment to prevent wear on the shoes and possible injury. So stay far away from flip flops and sandals. 

Depending on your pronation and arch shape, you’ll have options for different support levels. For example, overpronators with low arches may prefer stable shoes, while individuals with high arches may like cushioned shoes. Of course, you should also choose what feels right to you when you run. 

Insole

An insole is a removable pad of foam inside the running shoe that can cushion the foot. Insoles provide additional arch support to give the shoe comfort. However, you may need to change your insole based on how it feels when you run. Some people prefer a softer running shoe while others prefer something that offers more support. If you wear orthotics, you’ll also need to ensure they fit comfortably in your shoe without causing chafing from other areas like on top of your toes. 

Don’t Buy for Looks

Of course, you want your shoes to match your regular style when running. However, you shouldn’t buy running shoes based solely on how they look. While you can find comfortable and effective shoes that also look good, basing your decision on that alone can affect how comfortable they are. 

Choosing a shoe that’s wrong for your foot shape can be dangerous because you’re not getting the support you need to prevent injury and improve your endurance. Instead of being able to run for longer periods of time with the right shoe, the wrong shoe can cause severe pain and blisters that prevent you from running for days at a time.

Final Thoughts

One of the most important things you can do when looking for running shoes is measure your feet because sizes may differ depending on the brand. Having your measurements can help you find the right shoe whether you’re shopping online through an e-commerce site or in-store. Measure your feet before you buy any shoes because feet can change over time. Although they don’t necessarily change in size, they can get wider as you age. 

Julia Olivas

Julia Olivas graduated from San Francisco State University with her B.A. in Communication Studies. She is a freelance who loves sharing her passion for digital marketing and content creation. Outside of writing, she loves cooking, reading, painting, and her pup Ruby.