Finding The Perfect Running Shoe: 6 Steps
Hello there! Before we get too in depth about all things running, I would like to take this time for a brief introduction about yours truly. My name is Chelsea and I began running seriously back in 2009 when I decided to train for my first half marathon. Up until this point in my life, my idea of running was that it was a form of punishment imparted on me by all of my youth softball coaches.
Although I always tried to remain active, the idea of running more than three miles seemed ludicrous to me. It wasn’t until a former coworker of mine, who was an avid runner, convinced me to train for my first half marathon. Train I did and hate it every step of the way I did even more. The blisters, the early mornings, the muscle aches, the time commitment, I hated it all. I told myself that if I could just complete this one race, I would be done with running and go back to life as I knew it. I was beyond excited for race day, mostly so I could put all this running foolishness behind me. But then I crossed the finish line.
I crossed the finish line for something that I had trained 14 weeks for, and I could not swallow the surge of emotions that I felt. I knew from that day forward that I was hooked and wanted more. Today, I am happy to say that I have kept running and have completed six full marathons and countless half marathons. But most importantly I can say that I love running … something I never thought I would think, let alone say aloud.
When I first started running, I found my very first pair of pink, black and lime green Nikes and was beside myself because of how sporty and stylish they were. Unbeknownst to me, they were not at all what I needed in a running shoe. It wasn’t until someone from my old running team notified me that I really needed a shoe that helped with my overpronation. Overpronation? Was that a beverage? Not really understanding the importance of a good running shoe, I did respect this man and didn’t see the harm in seeking out a new, better running shoe.
Finding a good running shoe may seem like a simple task, but with so many options it can become quite daunting. Because of this, I have created this simple guide to help you find the best running shoe for you and your feet!
Keep in mind that a friend’s recommendation can go a long way, but your feet are yours and yours only. What may work for your best friend may not be the best for you as there are several different factors that go into a running shoe.
Determine where you will be spending most of your time running. Are you a trailblazer, a road warrior or a treadmill junkie? The surface on which you run will help determine the level of support, tread and cushioning needed.
If you are unsure if you overpronate, underpronate or are a neutral runner, the easiest way to tell is from your footprint. Simply place your wet foot on a paper towel and if you see about half of your arch filled in, this means you are a neutral runner. (Inside tip: some great brands for neutral runners include Adidas, New Balance and Saucony.)
For arches that are fuller (more than 50 percent filled in), you most likely need a stability shoe with more cushioning as your foot appears to roll and collapse in, aka overpronation. (Inside tip: some great brands for stability include Asics, Brooks and Saucony.)
For arches that are slight (less than 50 percent), you will most likely need shoe with less stability and arch support but still a good amount of cushioning to aide in underpronation. (Inside tip: some great brands for underpronation include Altra, Inov-8 and On Running.) For further information on how to assess your arch, check out our video here:
Think about your shoe size and your running goals. The general rule of thumb is to go up half a size in a running shoe to avoid those pesky toenails from rubbing the inside of the toe-box and eventually falling off. Additionally, the distance you anticipate to run can affect the choice in running shoes. Typically, longer distances (half marathon, marathon, ultra) require a more cushioned shoe while shorter distances (5K, 10K) call for minimum cushioning with a more lightweight feel.
Whether you are new to running or a seasoned vet, think about any injuries you have experienced either in running or any other sports. Injuries can often determine not just the type of shoes that you need but also if you need any accessories to make your run the least painful as possible.
Now that you have narrowed down your search, try as many pairs of running shoes as you like! (Shameless plug in 3 … 2 … 1 …) With Zappos’ free shipping and easy returns, we really try to make it as easy as possible for you to try as many shoes as you like, and return the ones that you don’t.
Until next time, happy trails, roads and other uncharted terrains!