As a runner, there are key things you need before hitting the road – appropriate running gear, water bottle and a belt to hold your keys and mobile but the most important item to get right is, of course, your running shoes.
Why is a good pair of running shoes necessary? Most people may grapple with this question and believe that any old pair of trainers will do, but the truth is that having proper running shoes ensures that you are safe, comfortable and don’t damage your feet and ankles. You wouldn’t race a minivan on a racetrack, right? Because it isn’t the proper vehicle for that.
Having the right running shoes is important because, without them, you are at risk of suffering knee pain, hip pain, Achilles tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, and other kinds of pain associated with having the wrong running shoes. You can also consider insoles for pronation.
Neutral shoes are perfect for runners with a higher arch, generally light body frame, and efficient foot biomechanics (which includes mild supinating, or when the ankle rolls outward). These are lighter models and are ideal for racing since they don’t “stabilize” the foot and arch whenever you hit the ground.
If you are looking for that won’t stabilize your feet whenever you hit the ground, then stability shoes are what you need. These are made with some structure to support the foot, arch, and ankle to prevent overpronation (when the arch collapses excessively). Overpronation may put you at a higher risk of suffering some running injuries and is therefore important to work with an expert to see how you run. This will tell whether you need a stability shoe, and if you do, Asics Gel Kayano is a great choice.
Motion control shoes come in handy for runners who need maximum cushioning. They are therefore meant for ankle stabilization and are therefore ideal for heavier runners. While they may be more costly, they prevent hypermobility of the feet whenever you hit the ground.
Minimalist running shoes have also been gaining popularity in recent years. These are low-profile, lightweight shoes designed to enhance your form of running. They also strengthen the lower legs and feet muscles and reduce injuries significantly since they lower the impact from each stride.
A good starting point is picking shoes that are categorized as “neutral/cushioning”, and not necessarily the extreme minimalist shoes. Ensure that the heel to toe offset for the shoes is 8-12mm to guarantee a fairly firm platform to keep off injuries and boost the biomechanics for efficient running.
Note that not all shoes are meant for you, and consulting your local specialist sports store or checking out a running shoe finder would be great. Minimalist running shoes aren’t “goals” to set sight on. However, if you are susceptible to constant injuries, you should consider trying a minimalist shoe.
Most top-quality running shoes will do at least 300-500 miles before you need to replace them. Keeping two or more pairs of running shoes and alternating them helps extend their life by reducing daily drying, outsole breakdown, bacteria build-up, and so on.
Another hack is having various running shoe brands/models. This way, the body becomes accustomed to various stressors when you start to run.
Important Note: For training purposes, be sure to avoid extremes in shoes. Don’t decide to buy a pair of barefoot running shoes just for their popularity, or a pair of chunky trainers for their price tag. When it comes to footwear, common sense should prevail, and it is vital that you only pick what is best for you.