Running shoe buying guide: How to choose the best shoes for your next run
We'll help you find the perfect running shoes for any type of run.
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Quick facts about running shoes:
- Because running shoes are specifically designed for comfort and performance, the right pair of shoes can help you improve your run times, avoid blisters and prevent injury.
- The best running shoes for you will have just the right amount of support, cushion and weight.
- High-quality shoes are typically more durable than budget shoes, but you don't necessarily need to shell out hundreds of dollars for a shoe that will support you comfortably.
Types of running shoes
There are several general types of running shoe, each designed for different environments. Consider where you will be wearing your new trainers. If you are a complete novice and aren't sure yet how you'll be using your new kicks, check out our beginner's guide to running.
|Road running||Light and flexible with cushion and stability for hard surfaces.||Running on pavement and packed surfaces.|
|Trail running||Additional tread offers more traction and stability for uneven surfaces.||Off-road running on uneven surfaces such as mud, rocks and gravel.|
|Cross-training||Gives you more contact with the ground for added balance.||Balance-based gym or CrossFit workouts.|
|Barefoot/minimalist running||Makes the mid-foot hit the ground first, as it does not have the elevated cushion of traditional trainers that causes the heel to strike first.||Those who pronate and those who prefer a more natural running style.|
You can also compare different categories of running shoes based on cushioning, control and stability. Each type is designed to correct or complement one of three pronation types: overpronation, neutral pronation or underpronation.
- Overpronation. An exaggeration of the inward rolling of the foot. Overpronation can lead to knee injury if left uncorrected.
- Neutral pronation. When the foot does not excessively roll inwards or outwards.
- Underpronation or supination. An exaggerated outward rolling of the foot. Those who underpronate need shoes with additional cushioning as they land on the outside edge of the foot, causing more pressure on the leg. Underpronation is less common than overpronation.
Now that you're more aware of how you run or walk, check out the best types of running shoes for your pronation type:
|Maximum support or motion control shoes|
|Stability or structured cushion shoes|
|Cushioned shoes or neutral trainers|
A higher price tag does not necessarily indicate a better shoe. However, most reputable running brands have a starting price of around $100 for a pair of running shoes. You can find mid-range shoes for between $150 and $200, and high-end shoes for $250 or more.
If you're looking to save on a name brand, check out last year's version of the shoe you like for a lower price. Typically, there aren't huge changes between versions, but it's still important to try on the exact version you are purchasing. If you are shopping online, check the returns policy before making a purchase so that you won't get stuck with a pair of ill-fitting shoes.
When to replace your shoes is a personal choice. Some runners throw out their shoes when they no longer feel comfortable or develop a bad odour, while others prefer to upgrade regularly to shoes with the newest technology. Ultimately, the decision is up to you.
Most manufacturers recommend that running shoes will last around 500km to 800km. Lightweight shoes often wear out sooner around 400km to 500km, while more durable models can last 800 km or more. However, some people find their shoes last 1,500km or more before they wear out. If you want to keep track of the kilometres logged in your runners, apps such as Strava and Runkeeper do all the hard work for you and even send you alerts when it's time to consider a new pair of shoes.
How to compare running shoes
Once you've considered the different types of running shoes, the most important thing to look at is the fit. For more tips, check out our guide on how to choose running shoes.
Ill-fitting shoes can cause blisters and injuries to even the most experienced runners. To find the perfect fit, make sure to leave a bit of space, usually about half a centimetre, at the big toe to allow your foot to swell as you warm up. Also, make sure your heel does not slip out of the shoe as you walk or run. You shouldn't have to tie the laces too tight to keep the shoe on your foot. The laces should be tight enough to feel secure, but not so tight as to cut off circulation. If you have wide feet, look for shoes that come in wider sizes. This is often designated with a letter D or 2E in women's shoes and 2E or 4E in men's shoes.
Make sure to try on any potential running shoes with socks. There's a wide range of socks made specifically to go with running shoes, from just a few dollars per pair up to $25 per pair or more. Socks can help make your shoes feel more comfortable, add additional cushioning, reduce friction and prevent moisture build-up.
If you live in a hot environment, look for shoes with a mesh upper material for maximum breathability. If you live in a cold environment or run during winter, a less-breathable, more insulating shoe would probably be a better choice. If you frequently run in wet conditions, consider a shoe that is water-resistant or waterproof.
Lightweight shoes usually have less cushioning. While it might be tempting to choose the lightest shoes available, you may find they won't provide the necessary cushioning for longer runs or hard surfaces. Consider the type of running you'll be doing and make a decision accordingly.
Some serious runners get two or more pairs of shoes and rotate them, making both pairs last longer. You can choose two different styles for different uses or matching pairs that wear out at the same rate so you can swap them out on your daily runs. This is especially useful if you're training for a marathon so that you don't have to buy a new pair just before the race.
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