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What to Look for When Buying Running Shoes

Updated: Oct 22

Running trainers are an essential part of any runner’s wardrobe. Some people may be tempted to run in their usual walking shoes, but that’s a bad idea. Running trainers are designed specifically for running and are built to help your feet feel good and to prevent problems throughout the body as you run. If you wear the wrong shoes, you could easily end up with injuries that are quite preventable.



Running shoe

Consider Your Running Needs

Everyone has a different way of doing things. While running is often treated as a general sport, it’s highly individual. Some people run on tracks; others run through the forest. You need to consider all of this before you select a running shoe.


Someone who runs on flat, hard surfaces, such as roads or tracks will have very different needs than someone who runs cross country. You should be aware of this and make sure you have the appropriate shoe for the job.


Types of running include:


Track Running: This is usually competitive and involves running at full speed for 100, 200, or 400 metres. Many people begin this type of running in school. Flexible shoes are best for this type of running.


Cross Country Running: When you run along through a forest and up and down hills, with multiple other types of terrain, this is cross country running. You’ll need excellent traction for slippery areas and a lightweight shoe, as it will pick up mud and dirt as you go.


Road Running: Marathons and other types of races are often run on roads. You should plan to have some decent protection and cushioning if you like this type of running. The road can be unforgiving!


Trail Running: Much like cross country running, this involves multiple types of terrain, including stairs, but you’ll be following a trail that should be quite well marked. This kind of running can be quite adventurous and will require excellent grip as you follow the trail. Cushioning and support are also very important, to prevent injury.


Whatever method of running you prefer, there is a running shoe that is designed for it. Be sure to select the proper shoe or you will find it very difficult to manage.


What to Look for in Running Shoes

Good running shoes can be pricey, but it’s well worth the money to have a shoe that will fit your feet and work with you as you run. Here are some things you should look for when you’re purchasing your shoes.


Flexibility

A running shoe is meant to bend with your foot, so it needs to be somewhat flexible. Different runners have different ways of giving this to you. Most will use grooves in the sole to provide more flex as you run.


One method of doing this is called a toe spring, where the toe turns up to allow your foot to rock forward. The midsole may be cut into a particular pattern, as well, to provide more or less flex and even slight changes to this pattern may affect your foot.


Fit

Overall, the shoe needs to fit your foot. Too large and it will chafe and cause blisters. You’ll also feel like the shoe is about to fall off, which can throw your gait off. You may notice that you trip more often if the shoe is too big, as well. It’s also important to look for a shoe that is wide enough for your foot.


A properly fitted shoe will have just a slight amount of extra space in the toe, to allow for swelling in the foot and the slight forward movement that occurs when you touch down as you run. It will also hold your heel firmly to avoid it shifting around.


No Irritations

You should avoid shoes that have seams in the upper, as these can rub against your foot and cause discomfort. You may end up with blisters from this sort of irritation, so it’s best to run your hand around the inside of the shoe to determine if there are any areas that could cause pain when you are running.


Weight

A good running shoe will not weigh your foot down, so you’ll have the ability to run faster. Lightweight materials are essential and should give you enough support to prevent injury while still offering a softness that lets you bend your foot properly as you run.


Arch Support

How much arch support you have is essentially the choice of the individual runner. Everyone has their own preference. However, you should be comfortable with the arch and it should contour to your foot’s natural shape.


If the shoe doesn’t fit your arch and doesn’t provide sufficient support, consider getting inserts to give you that necessary arch.


Cushioning

There are two main types of cushioning in a shoe. The insole is designed to give your foot that soft feel and it feels pleasant on the foot and more comfortable as you walk and run. The midsole offers a different type of cushioning. Instead of being just soft on your feet, it absorbs some of the impact to give you a softer feel when running.


Studies have shown that sometimes cushioning is a bad idea, as it can make it more comfortable to land harder on your heel. Over time, this may cause more damage. You should feel the ground when you hit it, but the shoe should be comfortable.



Stability

How stable the shoe is will also determine how easy they are to run in. A shoe that wobbles on your foot or bends incorrectly is more likely to cause injury than a shoe that will flex correctly and is firm in all the right places.


Whether you’re looking for men’s or women’s running trainers, you’ll find that this is a serious investment. However, it’s worth spending the money on getting the correct shoe, as you will avoid potential issues in the future.


The running trainers you select will be a big part of your life and it pays to take the time to learn more about the shoes and to test them all.


Should You Analyse Your Gait?

Your gait will have a big impact on the shoe that you select in the end. However, most people have no idea what their gait is like or what effect it has on your body. It’s a good idea to take the time to get your gait analysed so you can determine where you need to adjust. You may need to change the way your feet hit the ground or your posture as you run to get the best results.


If you tend to hit hard with the ball of your foot or the heel, you may need extra cushioning in this area. It’s helpful to have a professional gait analysis done and that will aid you in making the necessary changes.

Once you know your weaknesses, you can begin to train for improvement. This takes time to correct, so be patient and give yourself a chance.


Running takes practise and the right gear. You should be comfortable yet supported and should have an adequate grip on your feet. If you find that you still have difficulties with your running, then it may simply be because you need a different running posture or gait adjustments. The right running company can help you fix these issues.


Are you in need of a good pair of running trainers? At Velo Runner, we offer top quality shoes, designed to help you run better. We also have a range of bike accessories, should you want to switch off from running for a while. Contact us today to learn more about our services, including gait analysis.

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