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  • Writer's pictureAlexa

Running shoe 101

Updated: Jan 26, 2023

I get lots of questions about running shoes and which ones to buy, so I wanted to put together my thoughts on this in one place.

  1. Most important is comfort and fit. Do the shoes feel comfortable and like they fit the shape of your feet? Are there any areas that are tighter or feel awkward? Plenty of room for the toes but comfortably snug around the heels is what you are looking for.

  2. Buy them bigger than your usual shoes. Your feet expand in length (and a little in width) when you land on them as your arch flattens to absorb the impact and then springs back to push you off the ground again. Leave room for your feet to do this by leaving a thumb width of room between your toes and the end of your shoes. Go to a shop and trying lots on is the best way to find what works for you!

  3. Think about what grip you need. If you want to run off road get some off road shoes with grippy tread, they will make a huge difference to confidence on those surfaces, and how much you slip about. 

  4. Consider having two pairs and rotating them. It takes a day or two for the cushioning in the shoe to bounce back from the squishing it gets during a run, so rotating pairs means they protect you better when you are running.

  5. Running lore says that once the shoes have done 500 miles it's time to retire them. This varies depending on a few factors though. Check the fabric upper, the sole and the inside for signs of wear. It's hard to tell what state the cushioning is in, so if you start getting niggles or they don't quite feel as supportive of comfortable any more retire them from running and donate to a shoe bank, or just them for low impact exercise like walking or the gym.

Sometimes people ask me questions about brands and types of footwear...

  • I don't recommend brands, find one that fits your feet. Brands tend to have slightly different "template feet" that they design their shoe shape around. Experiment and find the one that makes shoes similar to your foot shape. Some brands spend far more on research and marketing, that doesn't necessarily mean they will be the best shoes for you.

  • Minimal vs standard vs maximal shoes. Oh wow theirs a lot of opinion (and some information!) out there about this topic. My only advice would be to mix it up a bit. Most running injuries have overuse as a contributory factor, this risk gets higher when you load exactly the same areas of your body all the time; one of the ways you can do this is by running in the same style of shoe all the time. As long as the shoes tick the 5 boxes above I don't care if they are minimal, maximal, or more standard shoes just don't wear the same shoe type all of the time!

  • If you are looking to change for a more minimal or maximal shoe do so gradually. These shoes move the loading around to different parts of your legs and feet so you need to take the time to build up strength in the areas that will be taking on more load slowly.

a collection of running shoes!

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