How to Get the Best Fit in a Running Shoe

It’s time to get a new pair of running shoes, but how do you know if the pair you choose is actually right for you?

You may not be able to depend on the shoe salesman knowing how to best fit you for a running shoe, unless you are shopping at a sports store. Otherwise s/he may be best at fitting dress or work shoes, but fitting a running shoe depends on three factors:

• type of running
• type of foot arch
• foot design

It is imperative to take these three things into consideration when shopping for new running shoes.

Type of Running

Do you primarily run on roads, sidewalks or other hard surfaces? Or do you mainly run on trails or other packed surfaces?

A running shoe is designed to cushion and stabilize your foot as it repetitively strikes the hard surface. Trail shoes, on the other hand, are built to give you more traction, support and underfoot protection, along with stability.

Type of Arch

The type of arch your foot has will determine how much arch support you need. An easy way to determine your arch is to look at the footprint you leave when stepping out of the shower.

If you leave one with a very narrow connection between the ball of your foot and your heel, you have a high arch. A pattern showing a wide area connecting your ball and heel is considered flat.

Anything in between the two extremes is a normal arch. Selecting a shoe with the right type and amount of arch support is critical to avoid arch problems and foot pain in the future.

Foot Form and Fit

The design of your foot has more to do with how you run. Ideally, your weight should come down directly over the center of your ankle (known as neutral pronation).

But, some people are prone to their ankle tipping in (over-pronation) or tipping out (supination). To determine the type of foot you have, look at a pair of your worn shoes. If you have neutral pronation, the ball and heel of the shoe sole will be evenly worn.

If you have over-pronation or supination the inside edge or outside edge, respectively, of your shoe sole will be worn more so than the other parts of the sole.

Types of Running Shoes

There are basically three types of running shoes:

• cushioning – for people with an excessive outward roll of their heel
• stability – for those with a neutral to a slight inward roll
• motion control – best suited for those having an excessive inward roll

So in the end, choosing a running shoe should involve first determining your running surface, then your foot design, and finally the arch type.
Opt for shoes that have been tried and tested, and match your running style (you can get this analyzed in running stores).

Running Shoes for Women

Here’s our pick of the top 5 running shoes for women:

1) ASICS Women’s GEL-Noosa Tri 8: The design of this shoe really makes it stand out, and it’s a good option if you want to look stylish even when you’re out running! But it’s not all about the style, of course. This is a solid pair of running shoes that comes with hundreds of positive reviews, particularly noting how lightweight and comfortable they are. They aren’t cheap but they look amazing. Check out the video and see for yourself.

2) Mizuno Women’s Wave Rider 16: These shoes were made famous thanks to Senator Wendy Davis who chose to take a stand – literally for 11 hours straight with no bathroom breaks. But that’s not why you should buy them. They are a solid choice for those who want shoes that look good and that are also comfortable.

3) Saucony Women’s Cohesion 6: If you’re a supinator – that is your foot does not roll inwardly enough – then this is a good choice for you. The shoes are within a budget range, too, so perfect if you’re new to running or if you don’t have too much money to spend.

4) New Balance Women’s WT1010 Minimus: Although not the cheapest running shoes on the market, the New Balance Women’s WT1010 Minimus shoes are a good option for those who want to go towards the minimal end of the spectrum of running shoes. This means that the heel is smaller and there’s less arch support. It all depends on your running style as to whether this is right for you.

5) K-Swiss Women’s Tubes Run 100: If you have a wide foot then it can sometimes be hard to find running shoes that fit. This is where the K-Swiss shoes come in – they’re perfect for providing cushioning to those with wider than average feet.

Top 5 Men’s Running Shoes

There is no best fitting running shoe out there. It all depends on your running style, your foot strike and your weight.

This is why it’s important to get your gait analyzed so that you know the type of shoe you should be shopping for. However, here is our pick of some of the best men’s running shoes out there:

1) ASICS Men’s GEL-Nimbus 14: The ASICS Nimbus shoe has been around for years now, and is hugely popular with runners. This 14th version of the shoe is targeted at those with a neutral gait, and has a lot of cushioning to protect your joints as you run. They definitely aren’t the cheapest shoe on the market, but they are considered a high quality choice.

2) New Balance Men’s MT610v2: These New Balance shoes are a good budget option for those who need trail running shoes to run over a variety of terrains. They are extremely lightweight, breathable and hold up well to the different terrains.

3) Salomon Men’s Speedcross 3: The Salomon Speedcross shoe is recommended both for trail running and racing, and many reviewers have commented positively on how good the grip is on this shoe. Note, however, that the cushioning is thick so you’re not going to be able to feel any rocks or twigs under your feet.

4) Skechers Men’s Energy Afterburn: If you’re looking for a budget option in a running shoe then the Skechers Energy Afterburn shoe is a good choice. It’s probably more suitable for beginners than extreme runners, though.

5) Salomon Men’s XA PRO 3D Ultra 2: This trail running shoe is an excellent option for those who need something that will stand up against rough terrain. Reviewers have commented on how durable the shoe is, making it well worth the higher price tag.

Remember, the shoes you wear for running are going to take a lot of wear and tear.

They’re designed to take a lot of impact every time your feet hit the ground, to help reduce the impact that reaches your joints. This is why it’s important to replace your running shoes every 300 to 400 miles so that you’re getting the very best protection.

Photo credits, top to bottom: Dawn, { pranav }