Buying Running Shoes
When buying running shoes – choosing your first pair correctly is one of the most important things you will ever do for your running career. If you buy ill-fitting or low-quality items, you simply won’t enjoy your running as much as you should and quite possibly you will either pack in running altogether or not run enough for it to make an impact on your life.
Let’s look at it like this: you will spend the same amount of money on your shoes regardless of how they fit. Therefore, you have no reason to buy badly fitting footwear because money isn’t the problem.
The only thing you need to do is put the time in to educate yourself what makes a good running shoe, plus what type of shoe fit you require because everyone has different shaped feet, body shape and weight, and a unique running style.
Make sure you go to the store and try them on. You can alternatively order them online, but for your first pair it’s highly recommended that you put them on your feet and try before you buy. Once you know which brand and what model of shoes suit you best, then by all means save time and money by ordering online. Please believe us when we say that you will not regret buying the correct fitting shoes, but you will suffer when halfway round a marathon course and your feet are crippling you due to saving those few minutes purchasing the wrong shoes.
Five Key Points to Consider When Buying Shoes
- Distance – how far am I going to run?
- Terrain – what type of ground am I going to run on?
- Feet – what is my foot shape?
- Gait cycle – what is my pronation (roll) level?
- Budget – how much should I spend?
Distance How Far am I Going to Run?
A pair of running shoes will be goof for between approximately 400 and 500 miles. That’s what the experts say anyhow. We’ve all had that favorite pair of sneakers that we just don’t want to throw away; that’s fine when you’re just driving to the shops in them, but absolutely not fine when you need them to keep you injury free.
If you’re running in preparation for a marathon then you need to consider comfort as your number one priority. This doesn’t mean you need a set of armchairs on your feet, because lighter trainers will feel nicer on the end of tired legs, but don’t go for something too striped out. Each step of your body pounding on the ground places considerable stress through your shin bones and the rest of your body. Wear and tear will be your worst enemy so emphasize to the shop assistant how far you are running.
What Type of Ground am I Going to Run on?
There are all sorts of running shoes designed for beginners through to pro-level racers, each pair slightly different, but with the power to make your life heaven or hell. Are you going to be running on the same type of ground, possibly roads, or are you going to be chopping up your workflow and running cross country?
The weather has the potential to dramatically change how it feels underfoot. Sliding around in the mud can be stressful, especially if you are running somewhere quite dangerous like up the side of a mountain.
Considering the above, make sure that you have had a good look through the online catalog before you arrive at the shop. This way you will ensure you are clued up when you arrive at the shop. You will be able to understand what technical terms the sales assistant is throwing at you and you’ll be able to finalize your purchase with authority.
What is my Foot Shape?
You really need to go to a specialist running shop to find out the shape of your foot. However, there is also another method that you can try, but please don’t purchase the wrong shoes on the back of this test. We’re only giving you another option that is meant to be merely helpful, rather than an exact science.
Wet your feet and stand on a piece of paper. Then you can analyze your foot shape to see whether you have normal, high or low arches.
The preferred method is to visit your running shop and have the assistant check your feet out properly. Shoe fit depends on mainly four things.
- Shoe size – length.
- Foot width – narrow, medium, wide, etc.
- Foot roll – how much your foot rolls inwards or outwards.
- Arches – how high or low your arches are.
They See Me Rolling…
Actually we mean rolling as in pronation or supernation and not what Flo-Rida means when he raps about rolling. If you have a normal stride that means you’ll be a normal pronator. If your foot rolls either too much outwards or inwards you will be classes as a supinator (rolling too far outwards) and an over-pronator (rolling too far inwards.)
The foot rolls naturally inwards in the ideal position, but too much or too little can become problematic and the suitable footwear should be used to correct or negate this issue.
Essentially if left uncorrected it could lead to stress damage on other joints in the body and also hinder muscle development, plus overuse or under-use. These aren’t anything to get too concerned about, however, as long as you know that it is important to have them checked out and a correctional plan put in place. If left unchecked that is when these things can cause more problems. (It also damages your footwear, so the signs will be visible physically from your running gear.)
What is My Budget – How Much Should I Spend?
Like most things, you can spend from next to nothing to as much as you want if you buy a personalized pair of running shoes hand-made by a specialist. What we recommend is to be sensible, take into account that you are most likely just starting out running, you don’t know for sure if you will keep it up, plus the most expensive option doesn’t always equate to the most comfortable.
Have a good look around and when you settle on brand that you trust quality wise, try and find something they offer in the mid-range price point. Not too expensive and not an bargain basement option either.
The choice is yours, of course, so if you must have the top-of-the-range kit then hey we aren’t going to knock you, but your friends might get a little jealous. As long as you can run to the same standards as your kit then you’ll be fine.
You don’t want to fall victim to that old saying: “All the gear, no idea!”
Where Can I Buy Running Shoes From?
- Online sporting goods store.
- High street sports store.
- From the brand’s own website or flagship store.
- Discount goods store.
- Specialist running or mountaineering shop.
Online Sporting Goods Store
You will find the best choice and lowest prices if you shop online. They should provide excellent customer service and take care of any problems you have both quickly and efficiently. Buying from a reputable branded store will also give you peace of mind. You could possibly look online and buy from a physical store because the biggest companies will have a high street, or shopping complex, store as well as an online presence.
Sports shops will also have a knowledgeable sales assistant who can answer any questions you may have.
High Street Sports Store
Based on the high street or from a more modern retail park, you will find national sports shop chains and also well-stocked individual sporting shops. They should have plenty of choice and also at decent prices in comparison to the competition. As always, buying from a physical shop is often a better experience than simply waiting to get a box delivered off the postman.
Branded Website or Flagship Store
By buying form a companies own store, you can expect the latest gear and they will also do special promotions often involving celebrity sports people. Ironically, you might not find the cheapest prices. The reason being is that a company would quickly get complaints from re-sellers if they sold their products cheaper than everyone else.
You might notice that a Samsung phone is far more expensive when buying directly from Samsung than it is from a phone shop. Same goes for all types of merchandise.
Discount Goods Store/Retail Chain
You should find some bargains here, but possibly not a wide-ranging choice. They often have limited stocks at awesome prices, if you are prepared to put up with a dodgy bit of stitching or a mark on the material. Considering that the first time you wear your running shoes, you might be blasting through puddles, then this might be a good option for you?
Bear in mind that sometimes they have restrictions on what you can return to the store.
Specialist Running or Mountaineering Store
If you want to go for the best experience, money no object, then without doubt go to a specialist running store. Their sales people will be more knowledgeable than general sports shops and they will be able to provide you with the best choice of equipment.
They also have the latest technology for fitting you out and measuring body weight, size, etc. They should also have specialist equipment for analyzing your gait.
If you are in a big city like London there will be plenty of shops to chose from that are at this level.
Where not to Buy Footwear for Running
- Internet advertisements.
- Car boot sales.
- Facebook groups.
- Internet forums.
While we don’t want to be negative, because you may find a perfect pair of running shoes on eBay or Facebook, we are thinking of the majority of people rather than the few. eBay is fine if you know your way around it and are confident of buying original gear rather than fakes, but for sports clothing and footwear especially, there is an abundance of fakes.
The recommendations don’t help either, because you’ve got quite literally very stupid people saying things are real even though they are fake. The sellers must be laughing like mad when they’ve got, quite well-intentioned punters backing them up.
Honestly, I have bought one pair of trainers from e-Bay from China and they were as fake as they come.
It’s also well worth pointing out that materials age, so second-hand, but still new-looking trainers will not perform as well as a brand-new pair from the shop. Chemical bonds break down from sunlight and pollutants in the air.
The best thing you can do is go to a shop, because your health is more important than saving a few quid.
Recommended Running Brands
- New Balance.
The major goal of this latest technology is to check out your level of pronation, which is the natural inwards roll as the outside of your foot strikes the ground. Once this is logged, Asics can tell whether you are suffering from over-pronation or under-pronation, which is otherwise known as supination.
This knowledge is then used to enable the appropriate running shoes to be purchased; this will enhance your running efficiency, prevent injury and make your running more enjoyable. Running is a simple sport, but it’s vital that you take care of your two most important bits of kit – your feed and legs.
I’ve owned a few of the cheaper pairs of Asics myself and have found them to be comfortable and long-lasting trainers.
Made in the UK and US, New Balance are a true running brand and offer their shoes in the most popular sizes as well as more specialist fitments. They come in a wide-range of prices and I have done many a mile wearing New Balance so can personally vouch for their comfort and longevity.
Like most material technology companies, they have their own branded foams and performance rubbers. Though there are endless companies to chose from, I would definitely give NB a chance. They are probably the nearest thing to Asics, but without the sky-high prices of the elite Asics range.
Founded in 1914 Brooks are a well-established sports shoe manufacturer with headquarters in Seattle Washington, although they were originally started in Philadelphia. Anyway, history lesson out of the way, they are another well-known brand that are linked with running. You will see plenty of Brooks trainers if you go to a running meet or marathon, such is their reputation.
Although I haven’t personally used them, I feel comfortable recommending them based on their popularity.
Let’s be honest, who hasn’t had a pair of Nike running shoes? I have had probably more Nike trainers than any other apart from Adidas. Though, I must admit that I’ve mainly bought them for fashion rather than running. While I have gone running in Nike, I haven’t specifically bought them to do so.
The budget they have is huge and being the biggest sporting brand in the world, you know that they have sports scientists in every department. Put them on your list if you are serious about running.
This is a German brand like no other. They’re world famous and are probably the only German brand that can compete with their car companies for fame and brand recognition.
Similarly to Nike, I have owned plenty of Adidas trainers, but haven’t specifically bought them to go running. Always instead preferring Asics or New Balance.
You won’t go far wrong investing in Adidas, especially their Climacool range. I did own a pair when they first come out and although they didn’t keep me any cooler, that I notice, I did notice when my foot got wet from the under-sole vent. I don’t think the German scientists thought that one through properly?
Again, another reputable manufacturer to add to your shopping list. (From personal experience, I notice that Adidas are a tighter fit than Nike, so bear that in mind.)
Five More Runner’s Reads
- Running to Lose Weight
- Treadmill Running Basics
- Jogging Tips for Beginners
- Running Nutrition
- Running Essentials
In summary, make sure you do your research before you hit the store and then you have the best chance of preserving your body from the damage that exercise can inflict upon it.
- Make a shortlist of your preferred running shoes.
- Keep a note of the prices so you know in advance what to pay.
- Get your gait checked to see if you are a pronator or under-pronator.
- What about shoe fit? Do you have low or high arches?
- Distance, terrain, style and type of running you will be doing.
Lastly, all we would like to say is go to the shop informed and enjoy your purchase. Your running shoes will give you many miles of pleasure or pain, but we sincerely hope it’s the former.
Good luck and safe running. Let us know in the comments how you get on!