Start Your Running Journey Off on the Right Foot
Shopping for running shoes can be daunting. We asked Chad Varga from Front Runner Athletics to give us some tips on how to choose the right pair. As it turns out, it’s more about knowing your feet than knowing the shoes.
By Brian Beise
Rule 1: Find a good shoe salesperson.
Find a good store with an attentive shoe salesperson who will take the time to make sure your shoes are properly fitted. A proper fit will be the correct size and the right type of running shoe based on your foot shape and type. A good salesperson will also take into consideration whether or not you will wear an orthotic insert, any relevant medical history, and your individual goals.
Rule 2: Buy according to your foot type.
As noted above, a good shoe salesman will examine your foot and note whether the arch is flat, normal, or high. He or she will also have you walk and run to see what the foot does in motion. This gait analysis is a critical component, along with basic examination and measurement.
Rule 3: Change the oil, change your shoes.
In general, after 350 to 450 miles of running or 450 to 600 miles of walking, it’s time for new shoes. That’s why it’s important to keep a log so you know when it’s time for a tune up. If you see significant wear on the outsole, or you notice new joint pain after a run, you have waited too long.
Rule 4: Match your shoe to the kind of running you prefer.
Usually a trail running shoe will suffice if you also like road running. Likewise, you can sometimes wear road running shoes on a trail, but only if the trail is groomed and relatively smooth. For more technically challenging trails, technical trail running shoes are recommended. These types of shoes are more structured and have rock stop outsoles on the bottom.
Rule 5: Skip the barefoot shoes.
Most feet need the technical cushioning materials running shoes offer, and the few feet that don’t need it will still benefit from it. That support dampens the intense pressure you put on your body when you run. Since many of us have imperfect strides, traditional running shoes keep bad mechanics like pronation or supination from hurting us long term.
Rule 6: Know your goals.
Are you just starting a walking program? Are you working your way from the couch to the 5K? Are you training for next year’s Ironman race? Your goals determine the proper footwear for you. Know your goals, communicate clearly with your shoe salesman, and you’ll walk/jog/run away with gear to facilitate your best performance.
Rule 7: Don’t buy “tennis shoes.”
Sport-specific shoes are made for the movements specific to that sport. Most sport-specific shoes are made for intense lateral movement and traction, whereas running shoes are made to propel us forward with proper form and support. Running shoes are made for running, walking, and fitness training only.