With the abundance of running shoe brands around at the moment, it can be confusing to try and choose a shoe from amongst all the options. Should you buy a pair with all the bells and whistles of running shoe technology, or the cheapest pair you can find? Should you choose minimal or maximal cushioning? Would sturdy shoes or lighter shoes be better? Should you choose this brand or that brand?
It can be hard to decide which are the best running shoes for you, and many people get the process wrong. Here are eight common mistakes people make when buying running shoes – and how you can avoid them.
All running shoes are not made the same, and not all of them are a good choice for you. This is because everyone has different running mechanics. Different running shoes suit different wear patterns such as overpronation, under-pronation or neutral pronation. You need a shoe which is specifically designed for your running style, gait, foot shape and wear pattern. Some shoes also accommodate a wider or narrower foot better than others. Make sure you choose the correct style of shoe for your individual biomechanics.
The best shoe for you will help correct unevenness, absorb impact and relieve pressure on your knees and joints. They can only do this if they are correctly fitted to you. Too many people make the mistake of not getting the right fit – and pay the price later. Most running shoes will feel comfortable while standing or walking around a shoe store. The real test comes after you’ve run a few kilometres. And because this is usually not possible when buying a shoe, it’s worth getting your foot properly measured and tested. This will give you the best possible chance of finding a shoe that will work perfectly for you.
Ideally you should have about a thumb’s width of room between the end of your longest toe and the front of the shoe. Your toes should have room to lengthen without being able to feel the front of the shoe. Shoes that are too small will only cause pain, soreness and problems. There should be minimal or no slipping at the heel, and a comfortable fit through the midfoot. You want your foot to feel secure and held in place by the shoe. A well-fitting running shoe should not pinch or rub or feel as if you are sliding around in it. A badly fitting running shoe will make running painful and unpleasant, and what’s more, may cause you to change your stride to compensate. This could potentially lead to injury.
It can be tempting to try and make your shoes multitask and perform a wide variety of tasks. This is always a mistake, however. While in theory you can run in your casual sneakers, canvas shoes or leisure shoes, you really need a shoe that was developed for running if you plan to do a lot of it. Running shoes are designed with specialised technology and design features to help you run comfortably, safely and free from injury.
While you certainly don’t have to buy the most expensive running shoes, keep in mind that you get what you pay for. A higher price tag usually means the shoe has been designed with more technology and comfort features. A very inexpensive pair of shoes may not have been thoughtfully designed with running in mind and may not perform as you want them to. Quality running shoes generally range in price from $100 to $250+. Go for the best shoe you can afford, and don’t make the mistake of going super cheap. It will only cost you more in the long run when your shoes don’t last and don’t protect you from injury.
It’s always worth asking if there are any deals or discounts available on the shoes you want to buy, or if this is the best price the sales assistant can offer you. Often, you’ll come away with some kind of discount or deal. Another strategy to save money is to choose the older model of shoe once a newer model comes out. The newer model is unlikely to be very different from the older model, but will cost you a lot more. Go for the older model if you can and wait till it receives a hefty discount. You’ll get pretty much the same shoe for a lot less.
The best time to shop for shoes of any kind is usually the afternoon or evening. This is because your feet swell and become bigger throughout the day. A shoe that fitted you perfectly at 9.00am may feel uncomfortably small at 5.00pm. Always try on shoes later in the day for the most accurate fit.
Many people assume that just because they’ve always been a certain shoe size, that this will never change. Unfortunately, shoe sizing is not always consistent. Being a size 8 in one brand doesn’t mean you’ll also be a size 8 in every other brand. Sizing can even vary within brands, due to the style of shoe and the way it’s put together. Never assume that your size will stay the same, and always try the shoes on before you buy.
This can be a problem when buying online, however. To prevent ordering the wrong size, make sure you carefully check the sizing guide and measure your feet accurately. Read reviews of the pair you are considering to find out whether other people mention useful information such as the style running large or small. You could even go to your local sports store and try on a similar style for sizing, even if they don’t have the particular style you want. And if all else fails, check that you can return your shoes if they don’t fit – and make sure you do so within the time frame.
While word-of-mouth is often a great way to source excellent products and services, it’s not such a good idea when it comes to running shoes. Each person’s foot is structured differently, and each person brings with them different physiology, running style and running goals. The shoe that your best friend swears by might be the completely wrong fit for you. It’s great that it works for them, but that doesn’t always mean it will work for you.
It’s best to get properly fitted for your running shoes, and try on several brands and styles before making a decision. You have to wear what works for you, not for everyone else.
You notice a great pair of shoes in your favourite colours, and suddenly they are the pair you HAVE to have. But looking great does not mean the shoes will perform well – or even that they are suitable for you. It’s better to have an expert measure and test your feet so that they can recommend a style that’s suited to you and will help keep you safe and injury free.
Don’t make these mistakes, and chances are you’ll end up with a running shoe that best meets your individual needs and will give you kilometres of happy, comfortable running.
Come and see Intersport Bennett’s for all your running footwear needs– we have what you need, and we’ll help you find it at the right price. Have a look at some of our great range of running shoes here.
To read more about how wearing activewear can make you more active, click here.