or any runner the most important part of their running kit is what they wear on their feet. Whether you know them as running shoes, trainers, sneakers, sketchers, the old girls, or anything else for that matter, they are vital. Your running footwear is what it protecting you from the pounding on your feet as they repeatedly hit the ground as well as handling a variety of other potential hazards that could ruin your run.
The infographic below will show you some of the subtle and less subtle nuances between different shoes as well as some helpful tips that will ensure you get the right shoe for your purposes! First off, you are unique. You may be targetting a 10min run in your loca park, tackling 10K race across the fells or slogging out a marathon. You may be large, you may be small, male, female, tortoise like or turbo injected. What you need are running shoes to suit YOU and YOUR running needs.
Knowing your feet is an essential element of choosing a running trainer and below we have a few free tips on how you can discover more about your body and your biomechanics.
Genreally, when running the foot hits the ground landing on the outside of the heel. Then it then rolls inwards to be flat with the ground. This movement is a natural motion known as 'pronation', it absorbs the shock from impact and aids you in balancing as you run.
A common form issue for runnersis that their foot rolls too far as they run. This is called 'over-pronation' and there is a very simple way for you to work out if you an over pronator. Don't feel bad if you are an over-pronator, it is a common trait and plenty of shoes are designed specifically to help manage your footstrike, keep you comfortable and help you avoid injury.
The Old Shoe Test
Go an grab an old pair of your shoes and then follow the experiment below. Take note of the OLD shoes as newish shoes will likely make this exercise futile.
- Place them on a level surface (not a table if you are of the superstitous leaning) and look at them from behind the heel.
- If you over-pronate your shoes will show a slight inward lean. Ignore the wear around the heel as this is related to heel strike and not pronation. Supported Shoes for you.
- Under-pronation is when a runner's foot does not roll far enough. If you under-pronate your shoes will show a slight outwards lean. Cushioned shoes are for you.
- Correct pronation and you won't see any lean any lean. You are said to be a neutral runner. Nuetral Shoes for you.
A final thought to add into the mix and confuse it slightly. If your old shoes are support running shoes, you have successfully evaded injury problems and your shoes show no signs of inwards lean then it is most likely that you do need support shoes and that the old shoes have successfully prevented the over-pronation in the past. Simple right?
The Wet Foot Test
It does exactly what it says on the tin. Wet your feet and leave a barefoot print on a tiled floor (make sure you can see the footprint and avoid soft flooring).
Looking at your footprint if there is a 'flat foot' then you likely have a low arch. You should be looking at almost the whole sole of your foot with the band between heel and forefoot virtually the full width of your foot. Low arches usually indicate your feet are prone to over-pronation. Support Shoe.
A 'regular' arch will show the band between heel and forefoot around half the width of your foot. It is less likely that you will over-pronate. Nuetral Shoe.
Finally, a high arch will show a narrow band, or even no band at all, between the forefoot and the heel of the foot print. Under-pronation is quite likely. Cushioned Shoe.
If you are a severe over pronator, which is quite rare (less than 10% of people), then you may need a Motion Control Shoe.
Remembering that we are all unique, it makes sense that we all ahve different running styles too, below are a list of the different styles that will have some baring on the type of shoes that you will buy but it is worth remembering that running style will vary as your running develops. you can find out more about running styles, in particular the barefoot revolution, and its importance in this article. Running style also brings into contention another differentiation in shoe type, minamilist and barefoot. If you have a good midfoot or forefoot strike (read below) then it may be worth considering the minimalist or barefoot ranges of shoes.
Most people heel strike meaning that their foot hits the ground heel first before then rolling forwards and pushing off of the toes. Heel Strikers = Cushioned Shoes
Forefoot strikers land on the ball of the foot before rocking back onto the heel and then moving forwards off the forefoot again. Forefoot Strikers = Any
Midfoot strikers land with the foot of their heel and forefoot landing together before pushing off of their toes. Midfoot Strikers = Any
The absolute final thoughts on free testing for findign yoru running shoe is to go to your local running store (you may want to call in before hand) who will generally perform a free GAIT test for you and establish which type of shoe that you should buy from their establishment.
Good luck in finding your shoe and enjoy you running! You can also use our top road running shoeguide to find your next pair of shoes..
If you have any questions or contributions feel free to comment below...