Tuesday, October 22, 2013

How to Buy Running Shoes

Finding the right running shoes for you will be well worth your time.
Finding the right running shoes for you will be well worth your time.
Image: Shutterstock
On Saturday, I got motivated and went for my first run in several months. It felt great—I love the cool, crisp fall air on my face, and living in a place where I can run near the water makes it all the better. Of course, my legs are still trying to figure out how they feel about the whole situation. My ankles and glutes are doing their best to remind me that my body’s just not used to running anymore. I’ll have to work back up to it.

Saturday’s “run” was actually a combination of jogging and walking; I could have pushed myself harder, but then my legs would have been completely useless for a few days instead of just a little sore. I have to be particularly careful because I use minimalist running shoes, which tend to work your ankle and calf muscles harder than regular running shoes. I love them, but they’re certainly not for everyone.

Choosing the right running shoes for you can be incredibly frustrating. How do you know whether you want toe shoes, minimalist, Nike Air, Adidas, Puma, Reebok, New Balance… if you’re like me at all, you want something that looks stylish but that will give your feet and legs support where it’s needed. Here are some tips for choosing your next pair of running shoes:
New Balance Minimus
These are my running shoes (well, when they were new):
New Balance Minimus
  1. Go to a specialty store. Sure, that shoe outlet store may have ALL the brands, but their staff simply won’t be up to par with smaller stores. Have you ever noticed that stores like REI and Nike have clerks who can tell you exactly what will be good for your needs? This extra insight can really make the job of choosing a lot easier.
  2. Don’t just try them on; take them for a spin. When you try on a shoe that you think might work, take a stroll around the store to make sure it doesn’t rub in strange ways or start to hurt after a few steps. Practice a little light jogging inside or outside if they’ll let you.
  3. Softer doesn’t mean safer. In fact, there’s no scientific evidence that proves that shoes with more cushion will prevent injuries. Gimmicks may be eye-catching but they are usually not worth your money. We naturally adjust when running to minimize discomfort, so getting a shoe with thick soles and lots of padding won’t save you from injury. Unless your doctor recommends something like gel inserts or ankle stabilization, you probably don’t need to pay the extra money.
  4. Extras, extras. If you find a shoe you really like, buy an extra pair or two! It may be expensive at the time, but you’ll save yourself a lot of trouble when they release a new model and retire your old one.
  5. Shoes should be snug but comfortable. Getting shoes that are too loose will increase your risk for injury, as it’ll be easier to trip or twist your ankle. Shoes that are too tight, though, will likely irritate your feet as they rub on the sides. Try to get shoes that are about half an inch longer than your foot, and experiment with different widths (Narrow, Medium, Wide) until you find the one that feels the best on your foot.
If all else fails, find a shoe that’s comfortable and that you feel stable in. The most important thing is that your feet are happy during and after your run.