Quick Guide To Buying Running Shoes
With a lot more brands and specialty retailers than just a year ago, the running footwear retail scene is definitely seeing more exciting days. We’re seeing many brands not found in this country before (think: Salomon, Merrell, Montrail, On) and the acceptance into the mainstream of brands like Vibram Five Fingers and Newton. Even Skechers Performance’s GO-series is slowly gaining a foothold in the crowded market. In this morning’s Institute of Engineer’s Run, I spotted several Newtons and 2 pairs of Skechers. To us consumers, these are all good. More choices, more options!
The flip side to this array of choices is obviously the level of confusion on where to start, when shopping for a pair of running shoes. While barefoot runners need not read further, those harboring a secret liking for the smell of new shoes will hopefully find this guide helpful. I’m sure I’ve published something along these lines before but just putting this out again seems like a good idea.
- Determine the kind of runner you are, and I’m not talking about your build. Rather, take into account the terrain which you run most often, level of experience, mileage, inherent biomechanical problems and injuries. The lines are blurring between categories. With advances in materials, stability models are no longer heavy weights and lightweight models no longer as unstable. You can even find trail shoes under 8oz.
- Mix up your choice of shoes and have a few pairs – have one for long runs, another for speedwork and yet another for foot strengthening which could either be a minimalist like Merrell, Five Fingers or transitional models like Skechers GO-series and Nike Free. If you’re interested in reading up about going less – read up the articles in Barefoot Running University, Runblogger, Toesalad, and Barefoot and Minimalist Running. Understand the difference between heel to toe drop and stack height so that you make an informed choice.
- It seems like the common wisdom is to buy your shoes in the afternoon but there may be a logic to it – your feet are at their largest then. According to the American Podiatric Medical Association in this article, it seems to be the recommended timing of the day anyway. And unless you’re one to run sockless, always wear socks when trying out shoes.
- When evaluating the flexibility of the shoe, there’s no need to roll or scrunch it up. Unless your feet can also be flexed or are actually moving that way, it suffices to go with these few moves. On top of the moves below I generally also prefer a softer heel section i.e. avoidance of a hard counter.
I’m one who really mix it up when it comes to shoes. These few are seeing plenty of action now. Except for the Speed Cage (3rd from left), all have seen action for distances 20K and above. I’ve logged 260K in the DS Racer, 197K in the Lunaracer, 58K in the Speed Cage (as I wear it only for short tempos due to its firmness), and close to 100K in the GORun Ride.
The ones under rotation for longer training runs include the Speedlite ST (246K, if only the forefoot is wider) and Pure Flow (180K).
If you’ve found this post to be helpful as a primer to get you started in finding your shoes (keep in mind, I’ve yet to come across a perfect pair for me), do share it out with your new fellow runners.