Finding the right running shoes isn’t easy as it seems—various thoughts about comfort, grip, fitting, durability, budget, and design run in our minds. Investing in the right pair is necessary as your safety and comfort highly depend on it. Whenever you are running or jogging, you are at risk of getting slipped and injuring yourself. Ill-fitted and slippery shoes are usually responsible for such injuries. However, you can save yourself from injury if you choose the right running shoes.
You don’t need to worry anymore, as this article will answer all the queries running in your mind. Moreover, we’ll discuss all those factors that one needs to consider while choosing the perfect running footwear.
- Pre-shopping Stage
- Factors While Choosing the Right Running Shoes
- Common Mistakes that Shoe Buyers Make
- The Bottom Line
Before selecting the pair of shoes, you should clear the following things.
1- About Your Foot
First of all, measure your feet size, especially if you plan to buy shoes online. Wrong shoe size can be really problematic, causing foot pain.
How to measure the foot's length?
- Wear socks, as you’ll wear the shoes with socks. That’s why exact measurement is necessary.
- Place your foot on plain paper.
- Draw boundary around your foot with a pencil.
- Now measure the longest and widest part of the shape to find the length and width of your foot.
- Repeat the steps for the other foot.
Now match your feet length with the following size charts for men and women. It will help you find the exact shoe size.
Everyone has a different foot arch. That’s why find out your arch type before choosing any shoe for you. Choosing the shoe according to your arch type helps you smooth running and prevent injuries. There are three types of arches.
- Low arch
- Medium arch
- High arch
How to find your arch type?
- Take plain white paper.
- Now wet your feet from the bottom area.
- Stand on the paper, and see the pattern drawn on the paper.
Analyzing the pattern
- If the pattern is completely filled, it means you have flat or low arched feet. Your feet are likely to roll in while walking or running.
- If the arches’ middle part is half-filled, it means you have medium or normal arches. Your feet are likely to roll in under medium load.
- If you see a huge gap, and there is a little print of your feet, it means you have high arches. It means you will not absorb shock while running or jumping.
You can find the shoe information in the details section if buying online. If buying from a retail store, you can find the information on the box. However, if the information is not available, then ask the salesperson.
- If you have flat feet or low arches, look for shoes with arch areas filled with high-density foam, plastic, or fiberglass. You will see a different color arch at the midsole of shoes. It is filled to enhance the stability of feet. The purpose of this additional support is to prevent flat feet from overpronation.
- If you have normal or medium arches, look for shoes with gentle arch support from front to back. Its purpose is to provide stability and flexibility to the rearfoot.
- If you have high arches, look for well-cushioned shoes. These shoes are usually lightweight. The purpose is to solve the under pronation problem. These shoes provide ultimate flexibility to such feet.
2- Online or physical Buying?
Both mediums have pros and cons. The best way is to get benefits from both mediums. Get information, compare, read reviews online and get your desired shoes by physically visiting the store. That’s how you eliminate the drawbacks of both mediums and benefit from them.
If you prefer an online store. You can see multiple options by just sitting at home. Read user reviews, and then make up your mind for one particular shoe. However, the biggest drawback of online shopping is you can’t check shoes physically. There are various risks of getting the wrong size or even the low-quality shoes.
On the other hand, if you visit the physical store, you can physically check shoes, eliminating the risk of wrong size or quality. The best part is you see the actual shoes with your eyes, unlike seeing the exaggerated photos on the online stores.
The drawback is that you have to spend a lot of time visiting multiple stores. You may not find some shoes that are available online because you can get shoes from all over the country. Also, you can’t get the real user reviews because the shoe seller will always highlight the plus points of shoes, ignoring the negative points.
Factors While Choosing the Right Running Shoes
Once you have gone through the pre-shopping stage, this shoe anatomy will help you choose suitable footwear for yourself.
1- Upper part
The first thing you notice is the upper area of the shoes. However, it has nothing to do with running, but you can’t ignore it because shoes’ quality depends on it. Check its quality with your hand. Usually, the upper part is made by knitting multiple layers of mesh and fabric. It should be smooth high-quality, and there shouldn’t be loose threads. Also, check the upper part from the inside; it shouldn’t be rough. Otherwise, you’ll find redness on your feet after running for a few kilometers in them. You can’t check these things in the online store; you can only rely on user feedback for it. That’s why it is better to visit a physical store.
If you look at the top brand’s running shoes, you’ll see stretchy knit and woven fabric with minimal stitching. They weigh less and hold your feet more snugly.
2- Toe box
The toe box is the last area of shoes that covers your toes. It shouldn’t be too tight that you start feeling uncomfortable after walking for a few minutes. Moreover, after running for a few kilometers, toes start to swell, needing additional space to adjust. There should be ample space in that area that you can easily wiggle your toe in it. If it is too tight, go for a big or wide size. Otherwise, you’ll end up in pain and may have to remove your shoes to feel comfortable.
The outsole is the bottom part of the shoes that come in contact with the ground or road. It provides traction and plays a great role in ride quality while running or walking. The good quality outsole gives you a smooth, flexible, and comfortable experience, while the low-quality outsoles give a rough and uncomfortable experience while running. You become really tired because of continuous shocks from outside.
Typically, outsoles are EVA or rubber-made. Blown and carbon rubbers are common.
Carbon rubber is very durable, and it is mostly used in running shoes.
It is light, flexible, and soft rubber. Air is mixed in this rubber during production to make it lighter. It gives a very comfortable feel. However, it is not as durable as carbon rubber. That’s why it is not recommended for running shoes.
EVA is a rubber-like material, but it is not rubber. It is soft, flexible, and more comfortable than rubber. However, it doesn’t last long. It is also found in many running shoes.
What should be the shape of the outsole?
If you look at the outsoles of shoes, you’ll find a variety of shapes from curve to straight. If you are a moderate runner or love to sprint, you can go for curve shape soles. However, if you run fast and love long-running, better go for straight sole. Remember, a straight shape is more stable than a curve.
Traction of outsole
Traction is really important in running shoes as it can save you from slipping while running on slippery or uneven terrain. Two things play a great role in shoes’ traction, outsole material and the lug pattern. A rubber outsole provides good traction. An outsole with small, deep lugs gives better traction than a flat outsole. That’s why you have to look for both factors.
What should be the depth of lugs?
Generally, 6mm depth is considered good, providing enough stability.
Insoles provide cushioning to the bottom part of the feet. They are one of the main reasons that an athlete feels comfortable even after spending a lot of time in shoes. It can be removable or non-removable. The benefit of getting shoes with removable insoles is you can replace them with your preferred one any time you want. However, in fixed insoles, you have to compromise on that insoles.
We always recommend that people should get shoes with removable insoles, as everybody has a different arch type and different comfort levels. That’s how they can replace them with their favorite ones.
Midsoles contain the cushioning layer of shoes. It is the layer between the outsole and the upper. The Amount of cushioning varies from shoe to shoe. Here you have to make a decision depending on your choice. Minimal cushioning lets the athlete run in a more natural pattern due to being lightweight. However, it increases the chance of injury or foot fatigue. On the other hand, high cushioning prevent runners run in a more natural way. However, it can save you from injury or fatigue.
6- Heel to Toe Drop
The difference between the heights of a shoe’s heel and a toe is known as a heel-to-toe drop. It can vary in running shoes from 0 to 14 mm. Each drop has its own benefit, but none of them is right or wrong. Experts say that heel-to-toe drop can affect the runner’s stride. That’s the reason you have to look for this factor as well. It is divided into four categories.
- Zero drop
- Low drop
- Mid drop
- High Drop
Zero drop means completely flat with no difference between the height of the heel and the forefoot. There is no or little cushioning layer in such shoes at the bottom. Running in such shoes mimics barefoot running. If you love rugged running, this drop is suitable for you.
When the difference is between 1-4 mm in height, it is considered as a low drop, as It is not much different; that’s why somehow it also resembles the natural stride. It gives a little support to the heel. This option is ideal for trail runners.
The height difference in the mid drop category lies between 5-8 mm. Even this difference is not huge; you can count it in minimalist running shoes. Athletes wearing these shoes can easily maintain natural stride and ankle movements. Then what’s the difference between these and the low drop category? These shoes can absorb more outside impact than low and zero drop shoes.
If you want shoes that can fairly save you from outside impacts without compromising much on natural stride, these shoes are best for you. The height difference in such shoes is low compared to standard running shoes. However, they provide a fair amount of cushioning under the heel and toe area.
When the height difference between the heel and the toe area is more than 9mm, it is counted as a high drop. Those who are heel strikers or overpronators should definitely consider high drop shoes. Such shoes provide so much cushioning and safety from outside impact. Moreover, such heel-to-toe drop is also suitable for runners with tight calves or Achilles tendinitis.
7- Ankle collar
Inside are of the shoe opening that holds your ankle is an ankle collar. The purpose of this collar is to provide stability and grip to your ankle. It should be padded to prevent rubbing on your ankle.
Ensure it provides a good grip on your ankle, preventing your heel from slipping. Also, it shouldn’t be irritating you.
8- Heel counter
The heel counter is a plastic insert present at the rearfoot area to provide comfortable ankle movement. Not all shoes contain a heel counter. If you have two options, we recommend you go for shoes with a heel counter, as it supports the ankle and increases shoes’ longevity.
9- The right flex grooves for running shoes
It is the horizontal groove in the forefoot area. Its purpose is to provide flexion to the forefoot across toe knuckles. If your shoe bends across the toe area, it means it is bending just like your feet while running, providing a feel while running. This pattern is helpful for runners. Moreover, if it doesn’t bend with the foot, it can cause pain in your arch.
Runners run in a pleasant morning rather than running in the rain. That’s why breathability is more important than waterproofing. You need breathable shoes that can you keep your feet stay fresh. Waterproof shoes can make your feet overheat and sweat. Only choose waterproof running shoes if you run in wet and muddy trails.
Common Mistakes that Shoe Buyers Make
These are the common mistakes buyer make while buying the right running shoes. We recommend you never repeat them. Otherwise, you’ll regret it later.
1- Buying incorrect size
You should know the right size for your feet. Some people buy too-tight or bigger shoes, considering them perfect for their feet. In actuality, they buy small or big shoes. What’s the correct way to check your size?
- Always wear socks before trying shoes, as you will always wear socks.
- There should be enough space in the toe box that you can easily wiggle your toes in it.
- There should be space between your ankle the rear inside of shoes that you can insert your figure in it. If you can’t enter your finger in it, it means the shoes are smaller for you. If you can insert more than one finger, it means shoes are bigger for you. Both conditions are problematic. Smaller shoes lead to foot fatigue, pain, or soreness. On the other hand, bigger shoes lead to losing grip.
2- Buying in the morning
The best time to buy shoes is in the evening time. Some people buy shoes in the morning and complain later about small size when they wear shoes in the evening. Remember, our feet start swelling in the morning and keep on swelling until the afternoon. That’s the reason you should go shoe shopping in the evening to avoid buying smaller shoes.
3- Trust other brand’s sizes blindly
Most people assume that all brands follow the same sizing rules. They think that if they normally buy 9 of Nike, it will be the same as New Balance’s 9. However, the most frustrating thing is there is no standard for shoe sizing. Each manufacturer follows its own strategy. That’s the reason you should trust your own foot measurement rather than trusting the brand’s shoe size.
Let’s take an example of two famous footwear manufacturers, New Balance and Nike. 7 US size of Nike is equal to 9.6 inches for men. However, the 7 US size of New Balance equals 9.8 inches for men.
4- Just focus on looks
Looks matter, but buying running shoes without comfort, feel, fitting just because of look doesn’t make any sense because they are not right for you. You should ask yourself, are these shoes fulfilling your requirements? Are they long-lasting? Are they comfortable and suitable for running? If the answer is yes to all these questions, then go for these shoes. Otherwise, leave them, and go for other shoes. Looks should be the last thing to matter when it comes to running shoes.
5- Shopping at a large department store
The best way to shop is to always go to the specialty store rather than the large department store. The sales staff at the specialty store are fully trained and full of knowledge. The sales staff at the general department store doesn’t have enough knowledge. That’s why they can’t guide you better.
The sales staff at the specialty store will ask you several questions to find out the best shoes for you. They’ll ask you about your running style, pattern, daily running miles, running track, etc. They may also see your walking gait. That’s how they can suggest to you the best running shoes.
6- Not asking for deals
Some people make mistake buying shoes directly at a price salesperson ask for. However, you should know that sometimes, especially the specialty stores offer 10 or 20% for buying more than one pair of shoes. Sometimes they offer a membership for a small fee in which you can get a discount every time you purchase shoes from them. Only go for a membership offer If you love that brand and plan to come back again.
7- Wait too long to buy another pair
Some people don’t know the average life of shoes, that’s why they take too long to replace their shoes with new ones. Remember, even good running shoes have an expected 400-500 miles lifespan. An average runner takes 6-7 months to cover this distance. That’s why buy new shoes after every 6-7 months. Otherwise, there are higher chances of getting injured in shoes that lose cushioning and stability.
The Bottom Line
Running is a healthy activity. Runners run a few miles daily; that’s why they need supportive shoes for them that can make their daily running safe and comfortable. We have highlighted all the main factors that play an important role in such shoes. We hope you understand the purpose of each factor and choose the right running shoes. If every one of you becomes fully aware of all the factors that one needs to keep in mind while choosing the running shoes, they will never make a bad purchase decision.