Maximise your running pleasure – and performance – with the ideal pair of shoes. Here’s what to take note of when buying your next set of running shoes. By Li Yuling.
Photo: Igor Yaruta / www.123rf.com
1. Get the right size
Your running shoe size isn’t necessarily the same as that of your pumps or sneakers. Your feet swell when you run, so you’d need space for the expansion. A telltale sign that your shoes are too small: Black toenails.
Visit a shoe shop that uses the Bannrock Device to accurately measure the length and width of your foot. And make sure you check both feet as it’s common to have unevenly sized feet. If you do, get shoes that fit the larger one, ensuring there is at least one thumb’s width between your longest toe and the front of the shoe when you push your foot back into the heel counter.
Finally, don’t assume that sizes are standardised across brands. Sizes may even vary between different models of the same brand, so always try a few pairs to be sure.
2. Know your pronation
Motion control and stability shoes are designed for runners whose feet tend to roll in excessively or overpronate. Cushioning shoes are recommended for underpronators, while feet that roll in neither too much nor too little are described as neutral.
As each shoe category has distinct features that help optimise foot movements, it’s important to choose the correct one to avoid discomfort and injury. For instance, stability shoes have dual density midsoles (made of two materials) for better arch support. If an underpronator wears stability shoes (instead of cushioning ones), she may feel pain in the shin, while an overpronator wearing the wrong footwear may hurt her arches and knees.
Look at your footprint to identify your foot type.
Runners with low or flat arches typically overpronate while those with high arches have the opposite tendency. (There are, of course, exceptions.) If you have normal arches, you could be a neutral, an overpronator or an underpronator. Alternatively, study the outsoles of your old shoes. An overpronator’s shoe tends to wear out fastest along the inside of the outsole, and an underpronator’s, on the outer edge. To be sure, get an expert to evaluate your movements while you run on a treadmill.
3. Don’t just go for the lightest
Although you’d expend less energy dragging your feet in a lighter pair, the reduction in weight could also mean you get less support than you need. More experienced runners might be suited to run in shoes tagged as “performance” or “racing”, but if you’re starting to increase your mileage, go for slightly heavier but more supportive shoes.
Training shoes may not always be explicitly labelled, but many brands describe the extent of support with words like “moderate” and “maximum” (eg moderate cushioning). A woman who weighs 60kg or more may wish to opt for maximum stability or cushioning.