If you are a runner with a running routine, you’ll know buying running shoes are a big deal. You don’t just walk into your local department store and part with money. Your purchase process should be a bit more systematic. You are after all, not an amateur runner.
Notwithstanding, whether you only run when it suits you or you are preparing to be the next Usain Bolt, it is important to choose the right running gear. After consulting with a number of professionals in the industry, here are a few important things you should know.
What kind of runner are you?
Before you probably walk into a shoe store, profile yourself for the type of runner you are. Are you a sprinter or a jogger? Do you average at least 12 miles a week or manage an easy 25 miles? What kind of terrain do you train on, sandy trails, hard asphalt or a regular treadmill? Are you buying shoes for a competition?
Never mind that this string of questions sound almost like an interrogation, the answers are critical to knowing what type of shoes you should buy. Note, a university sprint runner is different from a middle-aged evening jogger. Your running shoes should address each unique situation.
How do you run?
Knowing how you run can inform your shoe purchase decision. The way your feet turns in motion (pronation), and how it makes contact with the ground will determine the right kind of shoes for them. While a runner with a high pronation might require a somewhat freer pair of running shoes, a person with low pronation could do with a firmer pair. The same consideration goes with forefoot runners.
How arched is your arch?
Take some time to study the arch of your foot. The shape can determine whether you pronate (roll towards the inside foot), supinate (roll towards the outside) or is just steady when you run. While more people tend to overpronate, fewer people supinate.
So how arched is your foot? If you have a higher arch, you’ll want to go for a shoe that allows more curve, while a flat foot requires a shoe with a more stable base. Some running shoe stores conduct a ‘wet foot’ test. It is a method of determining your arch by wetting your foot and getting you to make an imprint on a dark piece of paper.
Additional guidelines to note
- Never rush to buy running shoes- make sure you’ve got a lot of time to make a choice. If you buy the wrong shoes, you are likely to have stress fractures or blisters.
- Choose a running shoe store with expert staff
- Go in the evening when your feet are slightly bigger
- Take your old running shoes to study the wear patterns
- Take your running socks with you- this is important
- Buy snug-fitting shoes
- Don’t be influenced by brand or model alone
If you adhere to these tips, you’ll make better purchase decisions. Who knows, your training might just lead you to beat Usain Bolt’s record.