Whether you’re training for your first race or you’ve got an assortment of medals and t-shirts to mark your marathon feats, runners at all levels need to lace up the right shoes.
Aside from making you look every bit the runner, your shoes have a lot to do with determining whether your running experience is pleasant or painful. Our feet literally take us through every step of a race – 2-mile-fun run, half-marathon, marathon-relay or the full 26.2-mile trek.
Put your best feet forward
There’s a lot of truth to the saying, “you get what you pay for” when it comes to running shoes. I suggest investing wisely. Similarly, not all running shoes are created equal, and what’s right for one person might not be for the next. Consider comfort, support and stability above all else. Choosing a shoe based solely on appearance can be a costly mistake.
Choose shoes wisely
Unless you’re replacing a beloved pair of shoes for which you already know the size and style, I recommend skipping an online purchase. Physically look at, hold and try on the shoes. Many running outfitters even let you run a few laps around the store or shopping plaza to make sure the fit aligns with your individual stride.
The minimalist “barefoot” running trend of low-profile shoes has been popular with some runners. While people cite a more natural running feel, minimalist shoes are associated with an increase of stress fractures and other injuries, particularly those involving the feet and ankles. This is especially true for beginners who are still conditioning their bodies – and feet – for the long haul.
Let experts help with selection
If you’re not sure what shoe best suits your foot shape and running style, go to a retailer that specializes in running gear. The staff knows what questions to ask to guide your selection. They can even evaluate your running to help find the best shoe fit for you. In addition, they can offer insight into benefits and effectiveness of things like arch support or cushion insoles, special socks to keep your feet dry and improve traction while running, and more.
Baby your shoes
The tread on shoes wears differently when running versus walking. Furthermore, the surface on which you run – concrete, asphalt or dirt trails – determines the life of the tread. To preserve the integrity of your running shoes and ensure you get the most mileage out of them, reserve specific shoes for running only. Take it a step further and have a separate pair for trail running if you go off road. In general, a good pair of running shoes should last between 400 and 600 miles. However, be aware of tender arches, shin pain or sore knees, all of which could indicate that your shoes are breaking down and need to be replaced.