How to Choose Running Shoes

A good and reliable pair of running shoes is the best investment you can make as a running enthusiast. Spoiler Alert: There’s not a single shoe which rules the industry. However, when you get some shoe fundamentals clear and come to know the kind that works for you, the selection process becomes a cakewalk. 

With myriads of options with different descriptors and each shoe tailored to serve a different purpose, getting a dilemma while purchasing running shoes is quite common. 

Typically, we all wear different pairs of shoes for every situation. For instance, notice how hiking shoes are designed with a broader base and thick fabric, whereas sports shoes are inclined more towards a breathable light mesh.

Tennis players usually go for shoes constructed specially for that particular sport (tennis shoes), and so do golf or football players. Similarly, there’s a different kind of shoe available for the runners as well. 

Now you must be thinking, why can’t you run in your cozy normal daily loafers?

Well, running footwear is designed in such a manner that it complements the natural movement of your foot, with a thicker heel to absorb impact and the cushioning height to mimic the natural pattern of running. 

Let’s dive into this guide to not only help you pick a sturdy pair but also provide some additional exclusive tips and tricks which will improve the usability and longevity of your shoes. 

Shoe Type FunctionOur recommendation 
Everyday Running ShoesThe most adaptable choice. Can keep up with all the running that the majority of individuals undertake. Long-lastingBuy here
Lightweight Running ShoesThis is the best option for fast trails or races. Shoes that are less durable than ordinary. Designed specifically for running, they are often less cushioned than ordinary shoes.Buy here
Trail Running ShoesThe best option for running on dirt and rough pathsThe lugs on the bottom of the tire offer greater traction on dirt and rock. Can also double as hiking shoes Buy here

The Bare Necessities 

Shoes that are properly fitted shouldn’t feel like an add-on to your feet, with the additional benefit of providing appropriate protection. While assessing the quality of your shoes, there are a few factors that you should take into consideration. 

They are as follows:

Snug Fit

Choosing running shoes only on the basis of size is not the ideal approach. Depending on the brand and the size charts, the fit may differ significantly. The perfect running shoe should be able to accommodate your foot securely without feeling too restrictive.

Stability

The finest running shoes have the ability to regulate foot motion. It’s highly probable that you’ll sprain your ankle or get other injuries if your foot slips about in the shoe while walking.

Arch Support

When you run, good arch support allows your feet to carry the weight of your body more effectively. If proper arch support in the sole of your shoes is missing, then you may fall prey to issues like back pain, hip pain, and knee inflation.

Flex

Running shoes are made to flex smoothly with your foot as you go forward in your stride. As the name suggests, flex in a shoe is designed to amplify forefoot flexion across your joints. 

Wiggle Room

Changes in temperature and humidity may cause your blood vessels to dilate, resulting in a slight swelling of your feet. When purchasing shoes, make sure that there is sufficient space between your fingers in order to avoid discomfort and blisters.

Materials

A running shoe material should be a mixture of strength, agility, and comfort. Most quality shoemakers use carbon rubber on the outsoles, while the inner portion is made up of nylon/polyester due to its breathability. 

Cushioning

Every time your foot strikes the ground, a tiny vibration travels from your feet and legs all the way up to your body to your head and shoulders. A good running shoe is designed to absorb impact easily while giving you a comfortable ride. 

Uppers

You should avoid shoes that come with leather or satin linings as they have poor moisture-wicking capabilities. Instead, go for a breathable mesh fabric that can withstand rough usage quite easily. 

Buyers Guide

This guide will assist you in selecting the ideal shoe for your specific requirements, whether you need stability for overpronation, traction for trail running, or comfort for your first run or half-marathon. 

Here are some factors worth considering : 

Contact Surface 

Whether you’re running on sidewalks, gravel, grass, a rubberized track, or the beach, the kind of surface you’re running on has an impact on your body’s requirements. 

Running shoes for the road, trail running shoes, and cross-training shoes are the different choices that you can consider. 

Your Foot Type

Running shoes are divided into three categories: 

Neutral 

Neutral running shoes are cushioned and do not have any motion control capabilities. 

They are often lower in weight as compared to stability shoes. Using the cushioning that supports the foot arch, neutral running shoes assist direct lateral stress inward and away from the body. 

These shoes are primarily intended for runners whose feet move in the manner described as neutral motion. 

Stability 

Stability shoes are recommended for runners who pronate beyond the point of neutrality. 

These shoes are equipped with heavy-duty support elements that help address overpronation by bringing the foot into a neutral alignment not just beneath the arch but also, in most cases, from the heel of the shoe.

Motion Control

In order to prevent extreme overpronation, motion control shoes are built with heavy-duty support in the arch and heel regions. Because they do not allow for considerable foot movement, these shoes are often less elastic than stability shoes.

Neutral running shoes are the most common ones among the three. They last well under a common use case and are the ideal pick for beginners. 

Health and Injuries

Running shoes come with several degrees of heel drop to cater to certain joint and foot-related ailments such as arthritis and tendinitis. For people who suffer from extreme joint pain, orthotic shoes are also available. 

Your running nature (Ex- whether you land more firmly on your heel or midfoot) should also be taken into consideration before purchase. When jogging, this can help to minimize discomfort and joint strain.

Budget

While it’s true that a higher price tag brings better materials and comfort, you must also consider the frequency you will be using them at. Most high-end brands have offerings that even stretch way beyond a thousand bucks. 

That being said, a good quality shoe that can withstand most requirements of a user can easily come in a range of $100-$300. The essence here is to stay focused on functionality rather than brand value or hype. 

An individual with $1000 trainers may not run as fast as a professional athlete with a $100 shoe. Hence, it is your technique and consistency which make all the difference. 

Best Running Shoes: Expert Picks 

Finding the right running shoes is a personal decision. So, regardless of what anybody tells you, there is no single ideal pair of running shoes that is suitable for everyone. 

The alternative is to choose from hundreds of types, ranging from lightweight racing shoes to super-cushioned trainers, as well as everything in between. 

Each shoe has a unique fit; some are suitable for those with small heels, while others are comfier for people with a broad forefoot. There are infinite combinations of foot shapes, training requirements, and personal preferences that may be used to create a single selection that works for everyone. 

Here are some of the best-selling high-quality running shoes you can get your hands on today : 

Best Budget: Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 38

The Nike Pegasus 38 is a workhorse shoe for top athletes and runners. It is one of the finest running shoes available, thanks to its flexibility and attention-grabbing features. 

In addition to being lightweight and bouncy, Nike React foam is also active, allowing you to bind easily through any exercise. 

It can withstand a lot of miles without complaining, and it’s robust enough to do cross-training and strength workouts. The Pegasus 38 makes you look your best with its quick silhouette and eye-catching colors no matter where you wear them.

Best Overall: Brooks Glycerin 17

These shoes feature a thick sole that comes with adequate cushioning so that you don’t have to worry when going through hard surfaces like pavement. The light 3D printed mesh ensures low weight and breathability. 

They come with an integrated system of shock absorbers (segment crash pads)  which facilitates smooth heel-to-toe transitions. You can get them in multiple colors ranging from black, grey, and red all the way up to white. 

Best High-end: Hoka One One Carbon X-SPE

These round-toe runners come with a color-block paneled design. They have an aggressive and fast feel to them, along with proper cushioning, which will last for a long time. 

The upper unit consists of a full-length engineered mesh along with reinforced stitching in the back area for a better fit. The laces provided are long enough to be used for any lacing technique. 

As for the lower plate, these shoes come with a Y-shaped fiber plate which provides good flexibility and support. This comes in handy during quick turnovers and long marathons. 

Best for Daily Wear: Hoka One One Bondi 7

This pair comes with a thick sole and also offers a no-frills design for maximum comfort. Highly optimized for all kinds of terrain, they can be purchased in a wide array of colors. 

A breathable open engineered textile mesh sits on the top along with tightly integrated overlays. The midsole is made up of EVA to absorb shock and offer good stability. 

There’s a small 4 mm heel-to-toe drop. Hoka One is known for making high-quality athletic gear. Hence, there’s no question about the durability of these shoes in the long term. 

Best Minimalist: Xero Prio

This highly affordable pair can easily withstand rough usage and comes with their flagship FeelTrue sole, which provides maximum traction and stability on all kinds of terrain. 

This shoe is made of vegan materials and can also be a good recommendation for people with wide feet. The cushioning could have been better, but we couldn’t have asked for more given the affordable price. 

Best for Flat Feet: Mizuno Wave Rider 25

When it comes to comfort and consistency, the Mizuno Wave Rider 25 is one of the most outstanding running shoes available. Energy foam underfoot offers balanced cushioning and responsiveness, allowing the shoe to transition smoothly between speed training and recovery runs. 

In addition, the Wave Rider 25’s distinctive Wave Plate helps to distribute impact and make it robust enough to withstand everyday riding without breaking down.

The Wave Rider 25, which is available in a broad range of sizes, is a great option for neutral runners seeking a balanced, energetic ride throughout daily training and road races, as well as for trail runners.

Best for Wide Feet: New Balance Fresh Foam 1080v11

There isn’t much that the New Balance Fresh Foam 1080v11 can’t do. The 1080v11 is impossible to dislike when it comes to long runs and speed days. 

Pillowy Fresh Foam offers super-soft, neutral support to each step while also absorbing the stress of running on pavement, resulting in a bouncing sensation on every run with this cushioning. 

Because of its overall lightweight feel, the 1080v11 is a natural option for everyday running, as no one enjoys wearing an uncomfortable shoe. The knit top is designed to fit like a sock and is available in a variety of vibrant colors. The forefoot is spacious enough to accommodate a natural toe splay, and the 1080v11 is also available in broad sizes.

Additional Tips for New Runners

Start Slow

It takes time to develop a new habit, and running is no different in this regard. Trying to do too much too soon is one of the most frequent errors that novice runners make, and it’s understandable given the enthusiasm that comes with setting fitness-related objectives. 

Do not fall into the trap of overcommitting yourself; instead, begin by doing a little less than you believe you should to establish a sustainable running habit. Build up your mileage gradually over time, and don’t get too caught up in the notion of speed when you’re first starting out.

Be Consistent 

You must inculcate running into your daily routine in order to increase efficiency. To put it another way, choose a time and stick to it.

The reality is that it doesn’t really matter when you go for a run as long as you pick a time that works for you and can maintain that schedule on a daily or weekly basis.

Keep it Interesting 

Finding little habits that make your running sessions more enjoyable is key to avoiding burnout and boredom. Positive reinforcement has also been shown to improve cognitive functioning over time. 

Participating in a running club, monitoring yourself against past results, running on trails, or rewarding yourself in some manner are some methods that many runners use to make their daily runs a little more enjoyable.

Shoe Maintenance 

Most running shoes are capable of covering 600-700 kilometers on average. Shoes may start to get uncomfortable and painful after some time, depending on how often you run and the construction of the shoe. 

Look for creases and indications of disintegration in the midsoles on a regular basis and replace them if necessary. If you are experiencing muscle aches and pain, it may also be an indication that your shoes are worn out and need to be replaced. 

Here are some tips to increase the longevity of your shoe : 

  1. Remove the sole and let your shoes sit out in the air overnight. 
  2. Avoid leaving your shoes out on the porch exposed to sunlight, as many materials can start to degrade due to prolonged UV exposure. 
  3. Never put running shoes in the dryer as they may get damaged by the heat. Instead, you can use the old rag-and-toothbrush method or run them on a cold cycle in your washing machine. 
  4. As mentioned above, running shoes are only good up to a certain range. Hence, avoid wearing them daily if you want them to last longer. 
  5. Keeping a good form can also reduce the impact on your body and shoes. You can emulate the action of elite runners if you are a beginner. 

Ensure Proper Fit 

Fit is much more than simply the distance between your toes and your heel. Protruding toes, bulging sidewalls, and arch placement – all impact not only how comfortable you feel while running but also your chance of being injured while running. 

In order to determine whether you got the correct fit, consider the following: 

  1. You’re unable to take your shoes off until you fully untie the laces – If you can slip your feet out of your shoes with them laced up and undone, that is a good sign.
  2. Walking or jogging uphill with your heel slides causes discomfort – It is recommended to lace up your shoes all the way up to the last eyelet to prevent slipping. Some heel movement is expected, but it should not be excessively painful or disoriented. 
  3. After a long run, your toes scrape the front of your shoe, and your toenails get damaged – Running causes your feet to swell and lengthen, so when you’re trying on a shoe, make sure there’s a thumb’s breadth of space between the end of the shoe and your ankle. In addition, your toes should be able to move freely up and down.
  4. Your toes have bunions or corns on the sides of them – When you’re putting on shoes, you should be able to squeeze a quarter-inch of the top material along the widest area of your foot to ensure a proper fit and feel.
  5. If you have a deep ache in your foot that becomes worse while you are active and doesn’t go away after a few miles on the run – This is known as the IT Band syndrome, in which the tendons get inflamed. There are a variety of causes for this syndrome. However, one of the most common is when your stride changes as a result of wearing improperly fitted shoes. 
  6. While you run in a new pair of shoes, you get a stabbing feeling in your knee, which is particularly noticeable when going downhill – This condition is termed as Stress Fracture. Stress fractures of the foot and ankle develop when the muscles in these regions become weak as a result of excessive or insufficient usage. 

This results in the feet and ankles losing support while walking or running due to the impact of the ground on their soles. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

Is it better to have tight or loose running shoes?

If your running shoe is too loose, it may fall off and cause an accident, while an improper fit increases the likelihood of corns and blisters developing. 

A tight shoe is much worse since it may limit the foot’s ability to bend and absorb impact, and it can even prevent blood from flowing into the foot.

What’s the right time to retire your shoes? 

You should switch your pair after you complete 600-800 km on it. Runners often use tracking apps to keep a log of distance covered. Using your shoe longer than this may cause foot strain and injuries. 

Can running shoes be used for walking?

Yes. Running shoes are mostly designed, keeping the comfort of the user in mind and can cater to all the rigorous demands of daily movement. 

What is the difference between running and training shoes?

While training shoes offer support for multi-directional movement ( mainly side-to-side), running shoes are more focused on heel-to-toe movement and have a higher heel drop due to extra cushioning. 

We hope you found this guide useful. Evaluate all the options and go through user reviews to make the right purchase.

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