How to choose running shoes?
First of all we have to know that today, there is an enormous amount of variety in the running shoe business. And here, I don’t only mean various colors, or different forms, but more importantly in the functionality of the shoes. These relate to: running technique, training type, terrain type, foot shape, and running expertise. Price differentiated shoes are being produced within the same brands.
First and foremost, we need to visit a professional running shoe shop, where we should ask the professional opinion of the shop assistant. In my experience, these shops need to employ assistants, who have a good and solid knowledge of the above mentioned criteria, or else they will not stay strong on the market for long. Liken it to a fine wine shop, without the knowledge of wines and produce of wine.
These shops have assistants examining your running technique on a treadmill, with either manual or computerized means. But even if these possibilities are not available, normally they would ask you to at least walk or run in your shoes within the shop area. These measures could be sufficient to establish how your feet react while running, ie.: where your feet touch the ground, in which direction your knees and ankles bend. This information should be enough to be able to choose the right shoe support for you. With the sole test, they establish if you might have flatfoot, unbeknown to you.
In better shops, they will perhaps ask you what terrain you run on, and approximately how many times a week/month you do your exercises. Just like when you buy skis. They might even want to examine your foot shape – how wide it is, how your nails grow, how it is arched, how your calcaneus is shaped.
Basic knowledge: we never buy the same size as our normal shoe size. We should always consider buying a size bigger. It is important to let our feet have some moving around space. There are people who even feel better in one and a half size or even two size bigger shoes. However, these are the long distance or ultra runners typically. Personally, I buy one size bigger shoes.
Only after having established the above, can design and prize play a role. Naturally the welfare of our feet must be prioritized, so that running can be part of our lives for a lifetime. We have to appreciate our feet to the outmost, and we have to get the most optimal shoe for them. Therefore, the above mentioned facts and questions have to be established first, and thereafter can the circle narrow down to design and brand preference.
So, now that we have established the type of shoe we need for our feet, the shop assistants will present various brands, and even various types within the same brand (in different prize ranges).
Tip: try both shoes on, since our feet are not identically the same shape. All shoes will have to be tried out with walking and running in the shop area.
A good idea would be to bring a pair of running socks to the purchase. While at better places the supply you with a pair, it is always better to bring our own, as these would have been used before, and would have already adapted to our feet and needs. In this way can we most efficiently reconstruct the environment for our potential new running shoe.
Now that we have chosen a shoe, let us on our first occasion, introduce it to our feet at the gym on the treadmill. Let us try it for a couple of kilometers. I normally do 5. Because in some cases, the shoes will perform differently in real time, to that of the test run in the shop area, and after having had it tested on the treadmill, and not being content with the performance, you can easily have it changed. In better shops, they actually ask you to do this test.
Later of course, once we become more aware of our feet, our own running style and the variety of the market brands and their technique, we should be able to purchase our shoes without the help of an assistant. I must add on a personal level, that I only visit professional shops, but they can still surprise me with choosing techniques. And don’t forget, that your technique can change, the amount of times you go running can change, your terrain can change, and the competitions can also change your attitude towards the perfectly chosen shoe.
In my experience, I have around 3-4 pair of shoes in one season, depending on what I use them for. This way, my feet will not get used to just one shoe, and I am likely to train the smaller and deeper muscles in my feet to adapt and work harder.
In general one pair of shoe is done after an average of 1200 kilometers. The sole wears off, and I find that the fabric becomes to loose to actually hold the feet in a good position.
My tip is to use those worn off shoes in the gym, take note though, not on the treadmill however. And so, your pair of shoes retire for good, and in case you had a special connection, in this way you fell less saddened to leave them behind. I am sure some of you will smile at those thoughts, but a true runner with sentiments will always feel some special connection to a pair of running shoes. Letting them retire, is like saying goodbye to a true friend, they do deserve a certain respect….but maybe I am going a bit far now?
Another good tip is to keep one of our more preferred pair of shoes, and to bring it to the shop assistant on our next visit to the store. It is a good idea to also examine the sole, like the Indians following a track: the tale of the sole. One can read from the sole, our way and style of running, and if we can show this to the assistant, it will help our case.
Personally, I prefer to buy from brands who only produce running shoes, or at most, specialize in another 1-2 sports. Look at it like when someone says they can do a variety of things. I believe it is impossible in this day and age. You should specialize in one, or maximum two things, but those two really well. Be a professional. Well, this is at least how I look at brands who specialize in running shoes. I want to buy shoes from a brand, who like myself have chosen running as a passion.