Few items are more personal than running shoes – well maybe, perhaps, underwear. While Nike has recently launched ‘Swiss army shoe’ for everyday runners, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to lacing up.
There are lots of different kinds of feet in the world and lots of different running shoes. Whether you’re training for a marathon or just trying to make it round the block, finding the perfect fit for pounding the ground doesn’t need to be such a rigid process. These tips should help you find the right footwear for a more natural, comfortable and effective run.
A cheap pair of shoes can make running miserable. Choosing the wrong kind can cause injuries and lessen the effectiveness of your training. That’s why quality is priority when it comes to buying running shoes. In general, low-cost shoes don’t work, so aim for at least the middle price range when shopping around. Expensive footwear can live up to the hype: Dennis Kimetto ran the fastest marathon in history wearing Adidas BOOST at the 2014 Berlin Marathon and few dispute the fact that the shoes helped.
Even the most light-footed gazelle will eventually wear down their running shoes – and knowing when your footwear is finished will help avoid joint ache. Aim to cover around 500 miles before you get a new pair – tracking apps such as MapMyRun, RunKeeper and Nike+ Run Club will do it for you. If you’re unsure, grab the forefoot of your shoe and see if it it folds over easily. If you’re suddenly feeling pain during a run, then it might just be a simple case of replacing your shoes.
Like everything in life, do what feels natural. The more comfortable the running shoe, the more it works in harmony with your body. There are general rules: getting your gait analyzed (the angle at which your foot hits the ground) can help you run better and prevent weaknesses. If you pronate, your foot rolls inwards. If it rolls outward, this is called supination. Or you might just have a neutral gait. But these are all guidelines, so whatever gait or heel-strike your body leans towards, comfort is still always top priority. Get help from a professional to find the right fit for you.
Barefoot running has been the center of fitness debates for a while now. Research has proven that running shoes with less cushioning can reduce injury, so choosing a pair with zero drop (most running shoes have at least 8mm drop) can help you run more naturally. Shoes with a thicker cushioning between the heel and toe make it harder to strike the floor with the ball of your foot – you’re more likely to go heel-first. Of course every body – and foot – is different. While it can help strengthen your feet, runners with weaker joints should avoid going barefoot.