What kind of runner are you?
Do you run on the track or on the treadmill? Are you a roadrunner or a trail runner? When you’re trying to find the perfect pair of running shoes you must begin your search by asking yourself these questions. Once you’ve established what kind of runner you are you can then select the most appropriate specialist shoe.
So, what types of running shoe are available and what’s the difference between the varieties? Well, there are a lot of types out there, but here is a quick definition of the six main groups:
Trail running shoe: trail running shoes are tougher and provide less cushioning than a road running shoe. They have thick soles, tend to be lightweight and will help you to grip the surface and protect you from injury. They are ideally suited to trail or off-road runners.
Spikes: there are two types of spikes you can get – spikes for track running or spikes for cross country running. Both can improve your running performance as they provide greater grip and are lightweight.
Stability: stability shoes are normally used for road running. They offer the runner support and cushioning, and are ideal if you have neutral pronation.
Motion control: this shoe type is highly supportive and ideal for runners who over pronate. They are very rigid and durable, and normally used for road running.
Lightweight: as the name suggeststhe key perk to buying a lightweight pair of shoes is that they are extremely light. They also have minimal support and cushioning. These types of shoe are great for racing in or for fast paced training.
Cushioned: this shoe type is designed for those with high foot arches and tends to be used by roadrunners. They offer some stability, but less than stability shoes or motion control shoes.
Pronation is the term used to describe the way your foot rolls inwards as it strikes the ground as you run or as you walk. Some people overpronate, some people underpronate, whilst others have neutral pronation.
Before you buy your running shoes you should work out whether you underpronate, overpronate or whether you have neutral pronation, as this will determine what running shoes you should buy.
If your feet are flat and you have a low arch then you probably overproante, which means your foot rolls inwards too much when your foot strikes the ground. If you overpronate choose shoes that provide a lot of support. Ideally your running shoes should also have structured cushioning.
If you have a high-arched foot with a narrow or non-existent band between your forefoot and your heel, you probably underpronate. If this is the case, opt for shoes with cushioning that also help protect against shock-related injuries.
Finally, if you have neither high nor flat arches you will probably have neutral pronation, which means your foot rolls the inwardly correctly. You should look for running shoes that have mild arch support that offer stability
Take your socks
You may feel a little silly in the shop, but when you go to try on your running shoes you must take the type of socks you intend to run in along with you. The shape and thickness of your sock will change the way your shoe fits.
Remember the swell
Your feet swell during a run. When picking your running shoe it is important your remember this and factor this into your decision. To help you choose a shoe that accounts for the swelling try to shop at in the evening. Your feet swell during the day, so during the evening you will get a more accurate fit of how the shoe will feel during your run.
Test the shoes
You wouldn’t test-drive a car by sitting in the drivers seat. To test-drive a car you drive it. So why would you only sit, or maybe walk, in your running shoes? A decent running shoe shop will have a treadmill and you should definitely give your shoes a test-run before purchasing.
Take your old running shoes
By looking at your current running shoes the sales assistant will be able to see what kind of runner you are and should be able to work out what you need from your running shoes. For example, if the inside of your shoe is more worn then you probably overpronate. The sales assistant can factor this in when helping you to select your running shoes.