The first time I was ever handed a real pair of running shoes was the summer leading into my Sophomore year of high school. I had no familiarity with the running lingo, and I was clueless with what distinguished a pair of “trainers” from “flats.” That summer I must have ran over 300 hot and humid miles, and each one lead to my body aching more and more before my next run. I finally became more familiar with how my body responded to different types of training. I realized I needed a variety of pairs of shoes to meet my distinctive and individual needs.
Picking the “right” shoe is very critical to improving fitness levels as well as avoiding injuries. This becomes tremendously difficult when there are numerous shoe manufactures selling all sorts of running footwear which do not work for everyone. To avoid purchasing the wrong shoe, there are many things to take into consideration in order to save time and money.
3 important things to consider when purchasing running shoes:
- The right fit
- Fit over fashion
- The arch of the foot
The right fit
The idiom, “if the shoe fits, wear it” absolutely does not pertain to running shoes! As a matter of fact, running shoes should be bought a half inch bigger size from the length of your largest toe to the end of the shoe. This will allow for a partial amount of space for your feet to move throughout the run. Trust me, this does not mean that your shoes will fall of throughout your run, when tightening the laces they will give you a nice snug fit. Second, feet are relatively the largest at the end of the day and will be even larger at the conclusion of a training session. With that being said, when purchasing your shoes it is best to buy them in the afternoon. This will aid in having a more accurate measure of your foot size. Lastly, you should wear the same type of socks you will wear when running. Not all socks are the same and wearing a different pair of socks when buying your shoe will alter the fit.
Fit over Fashion
I am most certainly not telling you that you are prohibited from purchasing something you enjoy wearing, but the durability as well as how beneficial the shoe will be to your running is more important then how “cool” it looks. I remember my father bought me one of the first models of the Nike Lunarglides. Regardless of how much I enjoyed showing them off, the shin splits were inevitable and especially painful! Of course we have all fallen victim to picking the flashy shoes in our past, but we want to avoid time on the couch and increase time on the roads!
The arch of the foot
The most important thing to notice before buying a pair of running shoes is how large or small the arch of your foot is. The arch of the foot is formed from the tarsal and metatarsal bones along with many ligaments and tendons. This complex section of the foot supports your posture and body weight. The illustration above shows the three types of arches that most people have. Personally, I have a very low arch which causes me to purchase running shoes that have more cushion and stability and less of a curve along the inside of the shoe.
With a shoe that has less of an arch, I am more prone to over pronation. Meaning that after the outside of my heel makes contact, my foot rolls inwards. Through out the process of increasing mileage, many common injuries might arise, and orthotics may be needed. While picking the right shoe is necessary, it is hard to guarantee that it will be a stressless process.
Personally I have worn only two types of running shoes for my recent training. When training for the 2014 Chicago Marathon, I used the Nike Pegasus 28 for my high volume training. These shoes allowed me to take a heavy amount of mileage without being prone to injury. I recommend these shoes very highly for people who don’t have a relatively large arch on their foot as well as for runners looking to increase their training volume. The Nike Pegasus allowed me to enjoy myself on my Sunday long runs without my feet swelling up too much. These shoes are what runners call “trainers”, they are relatively heavier than the shoes you wear when you race as well as having more milage capacity (last up to 400-500 miles).
A month right before the marathon, I knew I needed to go with a lighter shoe to go at the 7:03 pace that I intended to run for the marathon. One running store which I highly recommend is Jack Rabbit Sports. In this store they use video analysis while you are running on a treadmill in order to check your running biomechanics. From this you are able to tell if the shoe you are looking for will allow you to run efficiently. I decided to purchase the New Balance’s 890 because they were light but did not take away the necessary amount of cushion needed for running 26.2 miles.
After a few runs, which ever shoe you decided to buy will adjust to your foot and will feel more comfortable. Before running my marathon, I ran two long runs, 15 & 18 mile long runs with my New Balance 890’s and never felt a problem. I was beyond thrilled after the marathon to have picked these shoes. Not only did I run a 3:01 marathon (around 6:55 pace) but I was able to qualify for the 2016 Boston Marathon which I have always dreamt of running.
Lighter shoes such as my New Balance 890s usually last less than heavier trainers. These shoes should only be used for racing as well as speed workouts. (usually last for 150-200 miles).
Therefore, when selecting a pair of running shoes, you shouldn’t have preference in brands but pick a shoe which fits your own personal needs.
Arch Chart Image https://www.wigwam.com/posts/2015/sock-fit-sizing/
Nike Pegasus 28 Image http://toptrailrunningshoesiuh.blogspot.com/2012/09/nike-air-pegasus-28-team-mens-18-dm-us.html
Pronation Chart created by Abner Lopez.