Dec 3, 2020 16 min read

How to Choose Running Shoes the Big Guide

How to Choose Running Shoes the Big Guide
Table of Contents

Do you want to start running regularly or recreationally? Then there is the question of how to choose running shoes.

My story was simple (read more about me). I got my first shoes from my wife and of course, she didn’t know anything about how to choose the right ones.

The more I ran, the more I was interested in what I was wearing. This was mainly to ensure that I don’t cause any injury.

That’s why I wrote this guide on how to choose the right running shoes just for you.

Before you start reading, ask yourself a few questions:

  1. What surface do I plan to run on?
  2. Do I know my shoe size?
  3. What type of arch do you have?
  4. What type of tread do you have?

If you do not fully know the answer to these questions does not mind. This guide will help you, so read carefully.

Let’s go

How to Choose Running Shoes Yourself

With so many options to choose from, it can be difficult while buy a running shoe. But don’t worry, we’re going to make it easy for you so you can choose the right one for yourself.

Analyze the Running Surface

If you’re planning to run a marathon or go jogging in the morning, then you should get a pair of road shoes. Road running shoes are designed to digest all the pressure that you put on. As you keep running through the hard surface, the cushion makes your foot breathable and flexible, so you don’t feel any pressure.

The uppers of the road running shoes are made with light fabrics for your foot to bend and move naturally. The outsoles of running shoes are designed to be smooth and adaptive to the road surface, giving you full freedom to carry on the road without hurting your ankle.

Trail running shoes are made to run on muddy surfaces. If you’re going to run off-road where the road is full of dust and mud, then you should get a pair of trail shoes. The outsole of trail shoes is built with harsh elements to adapt to the sticky surface.

The uppers are heavily designed to digest the pressure from hard materials such as rocks, stones, and sticks. Some wide trail running shoes contain a protective plate to protect you from heavy materials. All rights reserved by trail shoes. The best type of shoes to wear.

You can also choose a safe option and buy the hybrid models that allow you to run on both hard and muddy surfaces. Hybrid shoes do great when it comes to heavy workouts or treadmill training. So instead of buying two pairs, runners can wear fit hybrid shoes and may run.

The Right Size for Your Running Shoe

Back when I had no idea about the type of running shoes, I used to buy a shoe based on the design, and it wasn’t just me; thousands of people do that.

While buying a running shoe, one must focus if the shoe is fit or not and ensure the best and comfortable experience.

The best way to ensure you have a fitting running shoe is by determining the correct shoe size. This includes both the width and the length of the shoe.

Different running shoe brands provide shoe size charts to make it easy for customers to choose the right fit.

A good-fitting shoe should provide enough room for the foot. It should also have enough support to ensure the foot does not slide within the shoe.

In addition to looking for the right shoe size, you also need to understand the average shoe size by height.

The average shoe size also differs according to the height of the wearer.

For instance, a 5’1” tall woman will wear a size 7 of women’s shoes. A man of the same height will wear a size 11 of men’s shoes.

Moreover, a person who is 6’4” tall will wear a size 9 of women’s shoes while the same person will wear a size 13 of men’s shoes.

Most importantly also, you need to fit in the shoes with your socks in. This helps you to get the right measurement for the shoes that you will be using for running.

The rule of thumb when it comes to the size of running shoes is that the shoe should disappear from your consciousness when you run.

If your shoes still register in your consciousness as you run, it would only take the first 14 miles for it to become a nuisance.

In brief, your running shoe is of the right size if:

  • Your toes have ample room to spread wide
  • Your toes don’t feel any constriction or touch at the end of the running shoe

Your heel feels comfortably cupped at the back of the shoe

Here, we will discuss in-depth how you can get and measure the right size of shoes for your feet.

Here’s a step-by-step guide so you can ensure the fit of your running shoe.

Step 1: Try Wearing Shoes at the End of the Day

As we sleep or take rest, our body muscles find their comfort zone and narrow themselves. But as soon as we start working, everything gets back to normal.

So if you want to measure a shoe’s fitness, try to wear one after the afternoon. By that time, your foot muscles will be up and running, and you’ll get a more precise fit that will help and support your feet.

Step 2: Maintain Width in Front of Your Toe

As you walk or run, your foot will spread its muscles, and if your shoe is tight, then you’ll be facing foot pain at the end of the day.

To divert your feet from hitting the angles of the shoe, try buying stability shoes or cushioned shoes such as the Hoka one that has a thumb width between the end of your shoe and the end of your foot.

Hoka one is known as one of the best shoes to have cushions. It will help your foot to move inside your shoe slightly.

You may also want to read about the Best Wide Toe Box Running Shoes.

Step 3: Avoid Pain or Sharpness

Some shoes stability is too tight, and you might feel itching after wearing them. If you feel a shoe is pinching you or squeezing your feet, then dump it and look for a better one.

Look for stability shoes that’ll provide comfort, so you can move freely in it.

Step 4: Know Your Width

Running shoes come in different sizes. You’ll find shoes neutral for both narrow and wide feet.  Try to get a Hoka one that will help and support you in the best way or check other models like the Hoka one that will fit you.

The standard shoe width for women is B, and for men, it’s D.

But if you need the running shoes for wide feet you can this article and find the best for you: Best Running Shoes for Wide Feet

Discover Your Foot Arch Type

There are three types of the foot arch. Low, medium, and high. If you don’t know what type your foot arch is, no need to worry. Finding your foot type is pretty easy; all you need to do is take a wet test.

This video best explains how you can easily take the test by yourself:

In a wet test, you make your feet wet and then stand on a paper bag for 10 to 15 seconds. The bag will slowly observe your footprint from top to bottom, side by side, and help you to see how your feet may look from underneath.

Once you remove your foot and see that your foot is there on the bag with a small curve along the inside of your foot, mark your feet as low type.

If you see a sharp curve along the inside of your foot with a band slightly widened in the middle that connects the heel to toe, then mark yourself as a neutral runner because your foot type is medium.

If the imprint shows that you have a very thin band and a huge curve in the middle that connects your toe to heel then your foot type is high.

Know Your Gait

Once you know your arch now you need to know how your feet move while running or walking. In fewer words, you need to know your gait.

Know you gait

There are four gait types. To know which one is yours, just follow the feet movement.

If you have a low foot type and each time you hit the ground your heel strikes first and rolls inward, then you have severe pronation. In this case, you should choose motion control shoes out of all the other types of shoes.

If you have a low or medium foot type and whenever your foot strikes the ground and the outside of your heel hits first and rolls inwards and absorbs the shock, then you have a light overpronation gait. The stability shoe will be perfect.

You can read more about the right shoes for you here: the best running shoes for overpronation and narrow feet.

If you have a medium arched foot, and once you hit the ground and the outer, middle part of your heel hits first, then you have a natural gait. As a neutral runner one should wear a neutral cushioning shoe.

If you have a high arched foot type and every time you hit the ground, your outer part of the heel strikes first, and it doesn’t roll inward through the entire time, then you have supination. Just like neutral runners all rights are reserved by the neutral cushioning shoes.

Your Weight Matters

Apart from your feet arch, your weight matters s well. Experts say that lightweight shoes only benefit people under 80 kilograms. This means if you weigh more than 80, then you might face a feet injury sooner or later.

If you don’t weigh much, then minimalist shoes might be of great use for you, but if you are heavily weighted, you should be more careful in terms of choosing running shoes.

For beginner heavy weigh runners, stable running shoes should do fine because it helps you to run steadily. You can also take a look at stability or neutral shoe that provides arch support or ask someone who’ll help you find the right pair of shoes that fit and help heavy runners like you.

You can also check our Article: Best Running Shoes for Heavy Female Runners

Which Type Of Running Foot Strike Do You Have

Heel Strike

It’s the most common footstrike, especially among runners.

In heel strike, it’s the back of your feet that hits the pavement.

Again, instead of remaining under your hips, your stride goes in front of your body while running.

This strike is very beneficial, especially when you want to ground yourself around a sharp turn.

It’s also beneficial when you want to learn how to run quietly. You can also use it as your body’s breaking mechanism.

Midfoot Strike

Here, it’s the center of your foot that lands on the pavement. It ensures an even distribution of the shock of impact.

The midfoot strike also ensures that your weight is balanced over your ankles,  hips, and knees.

This strike is effective when you want to maintain high, consistent speeds. You can also use it to achieve a higher running cadence compared to other athletes.

Forefoot Strike

For the forefoot strike pattern, the weight of impact lies on your toes and the ball of the foot. As such, your heels will hardly hit the ground between steps.

Your upper body will also most likely bend forwards for this strike position.

From time to time, your calves and around your Achilles tendon may experience cramps.

This foot strike is excellent for powering you on a steep hill. It can also give you a leg up, especially during a sprint competition.

How Long Does a Running Shoe Last?

Before asking this, let me ask you something. How long will you run each day or each month? The durability of every running shoe depends on its usage. This means, the less you run, the longer your running shoes survive. But what’s the point in buying a running shoe if you don’t run, right?

Experts recommend that every runner should change their running shoes after running over 300 to 500 miles. For a regular runner 500 miles may take up to five to six months. These statistics don’t go for everyone but it might help you find the best or right pair of shoes that may fit.

As we know that there are different surfaces to run on, some neutral shoes might get wasted even before the fifth month. Not just that, but your weight, running duration, and running mechanics also affect your running shoe.

The more you use your running shoes, the more it adapts itself with your feet, sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worst. After continuously using your running shoe for three or four-month, you might start to feel pain, your shoe-fits skins might come off, and the soles might begin to feel tougher. That’s when you realize that you need a new pair of running shoes.

So long story short, how long your running shoes may last entirely depends on how you use them.

In case you are going through any pain, we have very informative and helpful articles, coupled with the best shoes for different types of pain.

For knee pain, you may want to read through our article on the best running shoes for knee pain.

In case you experience calf pains when running, our article on the best running shoes for calf pain will be of great help.

Likewise, if you are suffering from lower back pain, consider reading our article on the best running shoes for lower back pain.

The Anatomy of Running Shoes

Let’s start by analyzing the elements of running shoes and see how they can give you an excellent experience while running.

Top Angle

If you’ve ever felt pain while stretching your feet upwards, it’s because the upper part of your shoe wasn’t perfect enough for your feet. The above piece of your shoe is supposed to comfort you instead of pain.

The upper part of regular running shoes is made with a coat of cloths combined with mesh sewn. These traditional shoes will give you comfort at first. You’ll feel smoothness while walking, but once you start giving pressure, the regular shoes will begin losing their durability.

On the other hand, modern running shoes use elastic materials and merge them with the fabric so you can stretch your feet in different situations without feeling discomfort. Since it works like rubber, you can pressurize it however you want.

Before you buy some running shoes, make sure the upper part of the running shoe matches your foot. Walk around the shop to see if your feet scratch or not. Try buying a shoe that relaxes your feet while you stretch upwards.

Achilles Collar

Every time you move your feet, it affects your ankle. Your ankle requires support from every angle of the shoe. However, you don’t need to worry much while choosing running shoes.

In every running shoes, the top aperture cover supports the heels to stay down in place. So that while running, your feet stay inside your shoes. In the market, you’ll find some shoes that fit soft materials such as foam or cloth to provide comfort.

Some runners rely on the shape of running shoes, but you need to concentrate on whether your heels slip or not. You would want good support throughout your entire shoe, so look for rigid thin soles.

Look for a cushioned shoe that interacts with the bones on the side of your ankle; make sure it supports your Achilles tendon. Also, to acquire fitness maintain half an inch space between your longest toe and the tip of your running shoe to avoid problems such as black toenails.

Heel Counter

Have you ever worn your father’s shoes as a child and started running? I bet the shoes fell off, and you had a tough time keeping them under your control. Well, that’s because the heel counter of a child’s shoe and an adult’s shoe is entirely different in size.

The heel counter of a running shoe is the shoe’s central plastic shape that folds around the heels of your feet. Its job is to grab your heels and keep it in position while you keep running.

The heel counter is a tight coat inside your back bottom that may help and support your feet to feel best. Regarding wrap, there are two types of shoes. Some shoes provide internal wrap, and some shoes offer externally. Some shoes have entirely removed the heel counter to give you full freedom but keep in mind that it doesn’t provide motion control.

A heel counter is best for centralizing and stabling your feet every time you land on the ground first. So when you’re out to buy a running shoe, check the heel counter and see if it help your ankle.

Tongue

The tongue of a running shoe is the distinct stripe on the shoe’s upper side that stays under the laces. It’s a beautiful add on to a running shoe that allows you to move freely. You can also put on the shoes or take them off without feeling pain on the upper side of your foot.

The tongue fortifies the area of a person’s foot between the ball and the ankle. It also prevents laces from rubbing against the instep of your foot and keeps hold of the shoe.

To know more on how to lace your running shoes, you can read more from this article: Practical Ways to Lace The Running Shoes For Various Types of Feet

Shoe designers have developed multiple tongue designs to meet your expectations, giving you tons of designs to choose from. Don’t worry; each of the designs comes in different shapes and sizes. So you’ll definitely find one for yourself.

While you check on your shoe tongue, ensure its fit with the upper side of your foot and grabs on to it. Try and walk a little and see if the tongue slips away or not. Confirm that you feel comfortable while you wear them.

Toebox

A running shoe contains different materials for complete protection, and the Toebox is one of them. The toebox is the part of shoes that covers the toes. It starts from the upper front side of the eyelets to the end of the shoe.

The toebox is usually round with a fortified toe bumper that grabs on to the fabric and protects your toe. If the toe box doesn’t fit, you’ll face severe pain in your toes that may lead to injuries.

There are plenty of designs when you’re out to buy a pair of running shoes. All you need to do is choose the best running shoe where the toe box stays out of your way and help you to spread your feet and without feeling tightness.

Modern running shoes have specialized functions. You can also try them out if it adapts to your feet.

For instance, runners with wide toe box and narrow heels have shoes that are designed for such feet. You can read more here: Best Running Shoes With Wide Toe Box and Narrow Feet.

Outsole

Some shoes will slip on a wet surface, some shoes may get stuck on a muddy surface, and some shoes may break all the barriers and allow you to walk over anything you want. Now what happens to you depends on the outsole of your shoe.

The outsole is the base of any shoe. The material that interacts with the road while your feet stay inside the shoe. For running shoes, scientists have developed AHAR+ outer sole material that can break all barriers and will allow you to walk on both dry and wet surfaces.

Most of the running shoes contain an outsole made with rubber or foam to increase durability and flexibility. If you fail to check on the outsole before buying a pair of running shoes, you won’t be able to run smoothly on different surfaces and mostly fall while clutching corners.

While you check the outsole, ensure its durability and flexibility. The outsole shouldn’t be heavy while you wear it. Confirm that the outsole is adaptable to your weight, so you don’t fall off.

Midsole

The midsole is the hard section that connects the upper body and the lower body of a running shoe. The midsole is created with a spongy material that bears the weight of runners like you. No running shoe can be built with just soft materials; it would look like a fancy shoe without a hard material.

The midsole serves many functions, from padding the foot to controlling abnormal movements. A perfect midsole is more substantial, resistant, and durable. Finding a midsole that contains all three characteristics is difficult.

In the market, most running shoes contain a midsole made with foam or sponge. Every brand focuses on their own material. This makes it hard for runners to find the perfect running shoe for them.

The midsole lets you maintain a pace while you keep running. So while you inspect a running shoe, verify the midsole is thick and perfectly weighted. By perfect, I mean not too light and not too hard.

Heel Cushion

The heel cushion is a wide material that reduces the impact of the strike. These materials are mostly added to the running shoes to minimize landing shock and provide runners with the best running experience that they can get.

The heel cushion is similar to the midsole material. Running shoes uses a variety of cushioning materials and a rounded outer for a better landing. Researchers say that heel cushioning allows the human body to land smoothly on the ground without feeling and pressure.

While buying a running shoe, you should check the cushion’s ground feel and see if it comforts you or not as you walk along the road. Also, there needs to be a balance between steadiness and cushioning to receive a better running experience.

Forefoot Cushioning

While running, the forefoot cushioning will help you in landing shock absorption, and you put your feet on the ground in every step. Forefoot cushioning allows you to keep your toes relaxed while running.

While running in different footwear, we often feel pain in our under feet. That’s because most shoes don’t have cushions. This is why running shoes keep all the materials together for you to get a better experience.

The forefoot cushion contains similar material to the midsole. The forefoot cushion not only allows the runner for a safe landing but also allows to take off. While the body mechanics of a running shoe is focused on everything above the ankle, the cushion is here to protect the foot’s formation.

Before buying, concentrate on the shoe’s response rate and try maintaining a balance between the landing and the take-off. Measure the performance and see if it matches your foot structure.

If you are forefoot striker, you can read our article on the Best Running Shoes for Forefoot Strikers.

Heel-Toe Drop

While you run and land your foot in the ground, the first thing you do is land on your feet, and you land your toe, then you take off. This is called the Heel-Toe Drop. This might feel like a simple topic to talk about but it represents the difference in cushioning of your heels and toes that is measured in millimetres.

The old fashioned running shoes had a heel-toe drop of 10mm where the heel was prioritized, and more cushion was placed there. But in modern running shoes, most of them are zero drop shoes. This means both have the same amount of cushioning.

If your running shoe has a higher drop rate, this means it will take longer to take off. You’ll be moving through relaxation. But if your heel-toe drop is lower, then you’ll add more pressure to your ankle.

When you wear a shoe and check the drop rate, try choosing one that will fit and feels right throughout the stride. From heel to toe, you will feel relief that will give you motion control.

Insole

The insole of the shoe is also known as the sock liner. When you put on a shoe, you’ll find a soft layer inside the shoe, and on top of that, you put your foot. Insole allows your feet to rest and protects your feet from getting rubbed by the midsole as you keep on running.

Different brands use different materials to develop insoles. But everyone tries to ensure that you get comfortable while your foot stays inside the shoe. Some insoles are hard, and some are too soft. Either way, it’s difficult to say which one to choose.

In the market, you’ll see two different types of insoles. Removable insole and non-removable insole. But what’s the difference? Well, the removable insoles have a high chance of losing its durability while the non-removable ones stay attached and don’t come off that easily.

While examining, try to pay attention to how the shoe feels while you’re running. See if the insole slips from its place or not. Verify the insole you’re choosing isn’t too soft or too hard.

Conclusion

Running shoes are an asset for any runner, but without a proper running shoe, every runner stays incomplete.

A runner should always know the mechanics of a running shoe, their foot, and their body movement in order to choose the best running shoes like any other.

The shoe market is full of categories and sections, so before you tie up your laces and go for a run, find a shoe that is right for your feet.

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