Buying a pair of running shoes is an important part of your preparation and getting it right isn’t as easy as you might think. Although running magazine product tests, online reviews, and information from the manufacturers may answer some of your questions, the most important thing to look at is the cushioning, support and stability of the running shoe and try and identify if it is suitable for you.
Think about whether the shoe function in a way that suits your feet, i.e. can it support you if you excessively roll in (pronation) or roll out (supination) as you run? If not fatigue, back ache or injury may be the end result.
Here are some key points to consider when buying a pair of running shoes…
How many miles do you run and on what terrain?
To get a shoe that responds to both you and the terrain you run on, requires you to think about where you train for the majority of your time. As there are masses of varying tread types, cushioning and shoe stiffness available for every occasion, the questions are: do you need a neutral shoe or a shoe with more support on the inside or out? And do you need a road shoe or an off-road shoe?
Discuss your running with the salesman
Although you should be able to trust the sales person's intimate knowledge of the current season's products, they must discuss your running in detail and have knowledge of the physiology and biomechanics of running to be able to recommend the correct shoe for you. If not, you shouldn't have confidence in the sales person, as they can't customise the fit to your every need. It is worth noting that according to an American College of Sports Medicine report 85 per cent of people wear running shoes that don't fit, so make sure you don’t fall into this category.
Can the color of the running shoe be changed?
The answer is more than likely no. Each brand only makes their lasts (different types of shoe shape) in very limited colours. Any fitter worth their salt will tell you that it's not the colour that makes the shoe great. Instead it is the construction and function of the shoe; where the cushioning or support is built in; what materials are used and how they will help your feet move in the correct way that is important.
I've always run in... (add your favourite brand)
As we age, our body’s footwear requirements change and although you may have worn the same type of shoes for the last twenty years they may not be supporting you the way your body and running technique require them to now. Each brand changes the structure, function, shape and look of their shoes most seasons. So every time your shoes wear out there may be a better or different solution for you.
Technology is your running friend
A good footwear store will have specialist sports science and fitting staff. Such staff can use information from you about your training to inform them when helping you to decide on the shoes to buy. In addition, video and pressure plate analysis and assessments of your posture and flexibility all add valuable information to help in the final decision.
An assessment like this is able to establish in-depth functional data such as:
- Foot type, motion and timing - does your foot pronate (roll in) or supinate (roll out) as you run?
- Irregular pressures or movement that might cause pain or injury over time.
- Type of shoe best suited to your foot.
- What’s required inside the shoe (control or cushioning).
- Flexibility patterns (or what areas are tight and need stretching). Pelvic and back alignment.
The finishing touch to your running shoes
If the shoe alone isn’t able to meet all your requirements, a fitting centre will be able to make and fit impact absorbing foot beds, which are molded for your foot from their previous analysis. A trained person will give confirmatory as well as additional data on flexibility of the back, pelvis and legs. If there are any limitations it will significantly affect how the feet function during running, walking or standing.
Running technology for your toes
Socks can dramatically change the fit of your new trainers. The type and thickness of socks should again depend on where you and your shoes are going in training. Your usual running socks should be involved in the fitting, not some thin cotton number you kick around the house in or something that the shop lends you.
The correct running shoe can solve many problems
The key isn’t researching every shoe available, it’s understanding what your body needs help with and where you can go to find this help. Take a pair of your old running shoes to your local specialist running retailer. There they will be able to look at the wear pattern in the cushioning and give you specialized help. A mistake often made is to think you may supinate when the outside of the heel is worn down, but don’t worry, this is usually normal. What matters is exactly where the wear is.
Try not to sweat about the price of your running shoes
If it’s the case that the right shoes for your feet cost more than you expected, try not to worry! The investment now will certainly pay off over the future months. Running in the wrong shoes could lead to injury which will cost a whole lot more than a pair of trainers in terms of physio treatment!
Use the running shoes...
The last thing left to do is figure out an excuse credible enough that it gets you some time to enjoy your new runners. You’ve paid for for them, now go out and enjoy them.