Running Shoes for Beginners
It doesn’t matter if your goal is to run for half an hour three days a week or to complete a marathon or other endurance event. The most critical element for a beginner runner is to buy proper running shoes. This is the biggest investment you will make and it may ultimately determine whether you stick with running or not.
Every time you go for a run, your feet hit the ground around eight hundred times in every mile. Running is a high impact sport. And, if you want to be able to run throughout your adult life, you are gong to need running shoes which fit you properly. Nothing wears down your feet like bad shoes. You can train for a race for months only to have to exit early because of running shoes which fit poorly.
Find a running shoe store
The best piece of advice for beginning runners is this: Never go to a department store to buy beginner running shoes. Go to a sports store, such as Road Runner Sports, or a local running store which specializes in running shoes. You can find them just about everywhere in the U.S. You need to talk to sales people who know the pluses and minuses of every shoe they sell.
In a store that specializes in running shoes, you will find that most of the people who work there run themselves. They know how to evaluate your feet and gait to select the right shoe for you. They also can tell if a running shoes fits properly or not.
When you go to a store in person, take along with you a pair of socks which you normally wear while running. Always plan to buy running shoes well in advance of any event you might be running. If you plan on doing races or endurance events, make sure you have broken in new running shoes.
As an example, if you are going to run your first 10K race, plan to train in new running shoes for close to that distance on several occasions miles before the day of the event. While you are at the store, lace up the shoes exactly as if you were going for a run that day. Try to run inside the store if there is enough space. If not, ask the store clerk if you can try them out outside–in the parking lot or maybe on a nearby sidewalk. You are going to be running on hard surfaces, so the ideal situation is to be able to try out your running shoes outside and not on the carpeted floor of the store.
You also need to get rid of a myth that is passed around from runner to runner. Have you ever heard someone say, “the shoes don’t feel just right but I’ll break them in before the race.” A runner never needs to break in shoes in terms of fit and comfort. Running shoes should feel just right when you buy them. Putting some base miles on shoes is one thing. Making them fit differently is another.
What kind of feet do you have? Plus Advice for Buying Running Shoes Online.
Know what type of foot you have before you go to the running shoe store. Ideally, the sales people should be able to look at your foot and diagnose your situation. But be prepared for an experience where the shoe clerk may not be as well trained as you would like. You also need to know what kind of feet you have if you intend to purchase your running shoes online (If you are going to purchase online, Road Runner Sports is our preferred store).
It is quite easy to figure out your foot type at home. The first thing to do is to remove your socks and shoes and to stand on a flat surface on which you will be able to see your foot’s imprint. Ideally, this works on a dark surface better than a light one. If you have slate or tile on your bathroom floor, this would be the perfect place to experiment.
You need to see a wet outline of your footprint on the floor. So, wet your feet and walk across the surface you have chosen. If you have a high arch, you will see an impression of the heel, the ball of the foot and then the toes. If you should see the entire surface area of the ball of your foot, it means you have flat feet and a low arch. This impression will look very rectangular. The third option is that you can see an outline of the of the middle of your foot but not heel or toes. If this is the case you will definitely need extra cushioning in the mid-foot area.
So what do these wet impressions really tell us?
If you have a foot with a high arch, you need lots of arch support and shock absorption in your running shoe. Someone with a classic high arch underpronates. This means that your foot does not roll inward very far and you land on the outer edge of your foot. If you have high arches you likely need neutral shoes with extra cushioning and flexibility in your shoes.
If you fit the profile of the rectangular flat foot, you most likely overpronate instead of underpronate. That means you fall off the inside of your foot instead of the outside. You are going to need a stiff shoe and should look at those in the category of motion control running shoes. A normal arch in someone who overpronates might want a stability shoe.
If you are still unsure as to what type of foot you have, turn over your current running shoes and look at the soles. If you overpronate, the soles are most worn on the inside edge. If you underpronate, the shoes will be most worn on the outside edge.
Most people need good cushioning through the mid-sole of their running shoes. Often the company will use a gel cushioning system in this area. A heel counter which is stable is also a necessity. Your heel should not be able to move in a side to side manner, especially when your foot is touching the ground.
You also need to have plenty of space in the toe box. Your toes should not hit the sides or the top of the shoes. Likewise, your heel should be stable and never slip up and down within the shoe itself.
Three types of running shoes
Just about all runners fall into one of these three main categories of running shoes:
1. Motion control shoes
For people with flat feet, low arches, and moderate to severe overpronation. They need a lot of rear foot control and extra arch support. Runners who are heavy also need a good motion control shoe.
The Saucony Prodgrid Stabil SC 2 (Women’s) (Men’s) a fine example of a motion control shoe and it is newly updated. It gives excellent support and now has plenty of room for your toes to move around. The Saucony Progrid Stabil is a flexible and supportive shoe with cushioning to absorb the impact of each stride.
For people who have low to normal arches with little to moderate overpronation. Basically, these people need cushioning in the mid-sole area of the shoe and support.
The NEW BALANCE® 760 (Men’s) (Women’s) has excellent stability and cushioning throughout the mid-arch region. It is meant for runners with relatively normal arches. The shoe has New Balance’s special lightning dry lining for wicking moisture away from the foot.
There is plenty of shock absorption in the heel and the New Balance 760 has a proprietary TS2 transitional support system for control of pronation.
This is the shoe for people with high arches. You need a lot of mid-sole cushioning to be comfortable..
At 9.1 ounces, the NIKE® AIR PEGASUS+ 27 (Women’s) (Men’s) is a light and super responsive running shoe. It has the cushioning needed by people who have high arches. The newest design has a partial bootie style fit which is extraordinarily comfortable. The outer sole is BRS 1000 carbon which is very durable. There are nice treads for traction as well.
The AIR PEGASUS+ has the sensor insert pocket in the sole so that it can be used with the Nike Plus Pedometer/Ipod System (purchased separately).
How much do running shoes cost?
Basically, a good pair of running shoes costs between $50 and $350. The majority of runners spend between $75 and $150 for their shoes. If this is a lot of money for you to spend, you should watch for sales and look for outlet stores which do huge shoe clearances a few time every year. Purchasing online can often save money but be sure you can return the shoes if they don’t fit. In all other cases, the rule is “try before you buy.” Beginner runners can often start with a lower end model from a company and move up as they add miles. For example, you might start with the Nike Air Pegasus and then next time buy more expensive Nike Vomeros. Extra expense usually buys less weight and more features, but the lower end running shoe models often are perfectly good shoes, especially for beginners.
Disclosure: Run Gadget occasionally reviews products provided to us by a representative of the company. When we do so, we state so at the bottom of the post. We also use affiliate links. See the disclosure page for more details.
About Run Gadget