Buying Guide for Running Shoes

By Kadir TUNCEL
Sep. 16, 2019

When you try running shoes on in the store, they will all feel comfortable, but the real test comes when you are miles into your run. At this point, you will realize that the ideal running shoe related more to the shape of your foot and your running style than the brand you get. To determine the best running shoe you will need to:

• Determine your running style and the type of running you do

• Choose the right category of shoe and the features you need

• Try the shoes on to find the best fit

A good pair of running shoes can last for 400 to 500 miles of running or 3 to 4 months of regular use. To determine if you need a new pair, you should take a look at your current shoes. If the outsoles and midsoles are worn or compressed, you need to replace them. You should also consider a pair of running shoes from an orthotic shop.

The Running Shoe Categories

Road running is the first category and refers to running on the pavement with the occasional run on surfaces that have slight irregularities. Road running shoes will need to be flexible and light. They will need to cushion and stabilize the feet during your strides on the hard and even surfaces you run on.

Trail running is the next category and refers to running on off-route routes where there are roots, rocks, mud, and other obstacles. Trail running shoes will need to have aggressive tread to provide solid traction. They also need to be fortified to provide stability, support and correct underfoot protection.

Cross training is the last category and will refer to running in the gym or completing Crossfit workouts and balance activities. These running shoes will be designed with more contact with the ground in mind than a thick platform sole.

How Do You Run?

If you have a pair of well-used running shoes, you need to look at the wear pattern to determine how you run. Pronation will be shown through a wear pattern that is focused on the ball of the foot and a small part of the heel. This comes from the natural inward roll of the foot that follows the heel coming into contact with the ground.

Basic or neutral pronation help to absorb the impact of your strides and relieve the pressure on the joints. This is a normal trait for neutral and biomechanically efficient runners.

Overpronation will show through a wear pattern along the inside edge of the shoe. This is an exaggeration of the foot’s natural inward roll. This s a common trait for the majority of runners. The primary problem is that it will put them at risk of injury and knee pain. Runnings with this trait will need stability and motion control shoes.

Supination or under-pronation will show through a wear pattern along the outer edge of the shoe. This is due to an outward roll of the foot that causes insufficient impact reduction when your foot lands. There are few runners that have this trait, but those who do need shoes with a lot of flexibility and cushioning.

Barefoot or minimalist running is different because traditional running shoes use the idea that the foot will hit the ground heel first. This is due to the elevated cushion in the heel of the shoe. Barefoot runners will have the forefoot or mid-foot land on the ground first.

Running Shoe Features

Uppers

A supple, abrasion-resistant and durable material is synthetic leather and this comes from nylon and polyester. This leather is faster frying and lighter than real leather. It is also a good option for running shoes because it needs little to no break-in time.

Another durable material is nylon and nylon mesh. This is commonly used in running shoes because it makes the shoe more breathable and reduces the weight.

TPU or thermoplastic polyurethane overlays will be placed over the breathable panels of the shoe such as the heel and arch. These are small abrasion-resistant additions to the shoe which improve durability and stability.

Waterproof and breathable uppers will use a membrane which is bonded to the interior of the shoe linings. The membrane stops moisture entering while allowing the feet to breathe. Feet will be kept dry in wet conditions with a slight trade-off on the breathability.

Midsoles

The midsole of a running shoe is the stability and cushioning layer between the outsole and upper. EVA or ethylene vinyl acetate is a common foam used for midsoles. Cushioning running shoes will generally have a single layer of foam while others have multiple densities to force a particular flex pattern.

Posts are areas with firmer EVA added to them. This creates a harder to compress section within the midsole. Posts are often found in stability shoes and used to decelerate pronation. Medial posts are used to reinforce the arch side of the midsole and will impact overpronation.