One common mistake first-time running shoe buyers make is shopping “off the rack,” using brand reputation, aesthetics, or advertising hype as their sole criteria in choosing a shoe.
In reality, finding the ideal women's running shoe can be a complicated process. Different kinds of feet — and different styles of running — call for different selection criteria.
Experienced runners who understand their gait and arch type may be able to replace an existing running shoe with a duplicate, but beginners should factor in some basic information before they shop, including:
This information figures heavily into which style of shoe will best support your feet over time.
Simple tests, which are available at both athletic shoe stores and doctor's offices, can help determine your foot position and arch.
Before investing in a pair of high-performance running shoes, a beginner should identify her natural gait. Do you have a supine, neutral, pronated, or super-pronated step?
The other part of the shopping equation is your natural foot arch. Many adults suffer from low or fallen arches. A trained shoe fitter can easily diagnose this.
A neutral arch is ideal, but the mechanics of running could flatten it over time. To compensate, some people invest in orthotics to support their fallen arches.
An exceptionally high arch places a different kind of strain on the foot. Runners with high arches require a different type of cushioning than others.
Knowing both your running gait and arch type is essential for shopping. Look for shoes with specific features that address your arch and gait type. For example, runners with flat arches require a different level of cushioning than those with neutral or high arches. Runners with pronated or super-pronated gaits should look for product descriptions that use phrases like “motion control” or “high stability.”
Denise has a background in healthcare, sports medicine, and physical therapy. She also has the unique experience of raising three boys. Through the years, she has coached her sons and many of their friends through their share of childhood health problems and accidents. When not helping others recover from their injuries, you may find Denise working in her garden or reading.
Once you've defined the biometrics of your feet, the next step is to consider the type of running or jogging activities to intend to pursue.
Every running shoe model is designed to handle a specific kind of terrain. Understanding the type of exercise you wish to do is crucial in order to avoid buying the wrong shoe style.
Breathability is an important consideration. When choosing a running shoe, let your intended exercise regimen guide you in terms of how much mesh you need.
A poorly ventilated running shoe causes the foot to sweat excessively. This moisture creates additional friction and can cause blistering. However, the solution is not necessarily to buy a shoe with the largest amount of mesh.
While improved breathability is generally a good thing, off-road runners may be trading one problem for another. Mesh-heavy running shoes definitely wick moisture away, but they also allow outside debris—sand, grass, even water—to penetrate the inner layers.
Models with lots of mesh may be more comfortable during hot weather, but the lack of insulation during cold weather can cause a runner’s feet to lose natural heat. Owning at least one pair of running shoes with less ventilation makes good sense if all-season running is part of your plan.
When choosing a running shoe, let your intended exercise regimen guide you in terms of how much mesh you need.
While “fashionable” isn't always practical, there are often good reasons for a shoe's unique stylings.
What may appear to be decorative or elaborate striping can actually be reinforcement along the most common stress points of the shoe. An ordinary street shoe would soon fall apart under the constant shock of a runner’s impact, but a running shoe with reinforced seams can handle the additional pressure.
Those who plan to run at night should consider shoes with reflective badges and brighter colors. However, night runners should never pin their safety on the design of their shoes alone. Additional reflective running gear is highly recommended.
Some shoes feature a traditional criss-cross lacing system. Others use a more streamlined “single pull” criss-cross pattern or Velcro strapping.
Experts suggest that laces should feel secure but not restrictive. Too-tight laces (or Velcro) cut off the foot's natural circulation and restrict movement.
The difference between each lacing method may be subtle, but the ideal end result is a shoe that remains secure throughout the entire exercise session.
Conventional wisdom dictates that you order a running shoe at least one half-size larger than your street shoe. This rule of thumb is based on the fact that a runner's foot swells and elongates during and after a session. You should be able to fit a fingernail between the end of the longest toe and the end of the toebox.
That being said, buyers should also pay attention to customer reviews that address sizing. What Nike considers to be a size 9 may not match a Saucony size 9.
To avoid major fitting issues, we recommend that first-time buyers select something no more than one size larger than their street shoes.
A rule of thumb among experienced runners is that a quality running shoe should provide 300-500 miles of service before replacement. A number of experts recommend purchasing two pairs of shoes at once for maximum benefit. This practice allows each pair enough downtime to regain cushioning between runs. It also means a higher initial investment, but doing so can actually extend the lifespan of both sets of shoes.
Structure and design elements vary widely among manufacturers, and you may expect to pay more for a better pair of shoes. But quality doesn't always come with a higher price tag.
Biometrics, running style, design, durability, and price—all of these factors will impact your purchasing decision. But ultimately, the best running shoe for you is the one that fits your foot like a well-engineered glove.