Running Shoes

Wednesday, 23 April 2008 | Tags: , , ,

Whatever your level, the right running shoe can make all the difference to your workout, and not just for your feet. Since everyone's running needs are different, we find out more about how to buy the right shoe.

The Basics

  • Everyone’s feet are unique, and so are running habits, weight and the type of terrain you run on, so shop accordingly.

  • Shop at a specialty store where a professional can fit you. Ill-fitting shoes can cause any number of serious joint and back problems

  • The three main things you need to concentrate on are fit, support, and cushioning.

  • Recreational running shoes come in three basic types:

    • The Motion Control Shoe cuts down on outside heel strikes, which is the motion made when your foot lands on the outside, rolls and pronates (turns in). When the foot rolls too much, knee, hip and back injuries may arise, which shoes of this design help to prevent.

    • The Neutral Shoe is for those in the exercise world who can wear just about anything.

    • The High Rigid Arch Shoe helps prevent injury if you tend to land on the outside of the heel with no rolling motion to absorb shock. This type of runner also needs a shoe with good cushioning.

  • How often and how far you run determines the level of technical construction you need. Someone running a couple of times a week for 2-4 km doesn’t require the same technical construction as someone running more often and longer distances.

  • Men’s and women’s shoes are designed differently. Men’s are firmer with harder soles to support more weight. Women have narrower heels.

  • Find a balance between firmness for support and cushioning to absorb impact.

  • Before you buy, you need to know how your foot lands:

    • Neutral: without tilting, even weight distribution. Can wear almost any shoe and doesn’t require specialized cushioning.

    • Pronated means your foot turns in when you run and you need a shoe with good motion control, firm support around the ankle and a straight or semi-curved shape (or “last”) of the shoe.

    • Supinated means your foot turns out when you run and you need a shoe with high arch support and a curved last. Also check for flexibility on the inner side of the shoe.

    • To figure out which one you are, examine the bottom of an old shoe. If the sole is worn away along the instep, you pronate; along the outside edge, you supinate; evenly, you are neutral.

  • The shoe should feel comfortably snug with about a half inch of space from your longest toe to the end of the shoe. Too loose and you might get blisters. Too tight and your foot can go numb.

Other Considerations

  • Shop at the end of the day when your feet are at their largest. Often, you need a running shoe slightly larger than your regular shoe size.

  • Look for a sole that’s split in two to provide a smoother transition from heel to toe.

Be Aware

  • We don’t recommend buying online even if you’ve tried that specific model on elsewhere as every pair of running shoes can fit a little differently.

  • Avoid buying from stores where you can’t return shoes after a few wears. If they’re not comfortable, a reputable store that stands behind its products will let you exchange them for another model.

  • Please don’t commit the greatest faux pas in athletic shoe buying: choosing brand name over fit! Even if you’re devoted to one brand, you can do damage to your body with a badly fitting shoe.

  • Don’t buy shoes that need to be broken in. They should be comfortable right away.

  • Watch out for the technical marketing lingo (e.g. pumps, gels, shocks and air). These are just bells and whistles.


We tested a few popular running shoes for walking, shopping, a couple of short runs, and a 10k marathon:

  • Adidas: $119
  • Brooks: $129
  • New Balance: $179
  • Asics: $199-$219
  • Nike: $229

Comfort & Wear Test

  • New Balance scored points for good heel and forefoot cushioning and general comfort.

  • The Nike Air felt a little stiff compared to some of the more comfy shoes.

  • Brooks certainly didn’t take any of us to new heights.

  • The Adidas didn’t provide enough room in the toe box, which resulted in pressure points and discomfort.

  • The Asics were top pick by 4 out of 5 of our testers: lightweight and the perfect combination of support and cushioning.


It all comes down to personal fit, comfort and preference but we did find that the Asics were preferred by 4 out of 5 of our testers. They were lightweight, and the perfect combination of support and cushioning.


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