Runners take anywhere from 1,200 to 2,000 steps per mile—the impact created is four to five times your body weight. Considering that most of this occurs on concrete or asphalt surfaces, proper support for your foot is extremely important. It doesn’t matter if you’re a beginner or a seasoned racer—running shoes are the most important piece of equipment you’ll need. We interviewed running shoe expert Jeff Martinez, manager of The Trak Shak running stores in Birmingham, Alabama. Read on for his top shoe-buying tips.
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Visit your local running retail specialist.
Specialty running stores offer expertise that’s more difficult to find online or at big-name sports stores. Come prepared to talk about your running or walking history, particularly if you’re having foot, lower leg, or injury issues, so the retailer can properly fit you.
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Trust in traditional running shoe brands.
Nike, Asics, Brooks, Saucony, New Balance, Adidas, and Mizuno are known in the running community for making reliable, high-quality shoes. Most brands offer shoes within a variety of price ranges, but if you’re worried about spending a fortune, you can often find older models of shoes on sale.
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Be open-minded to shoe size.
Even if you’re positive of your shoe size, keep in mind that most runners wear at least a half size larger than their street shoes. Here’s why—with every stride, your foot is pushed forward in your shoes. Your toes need a little wiggle room! Shoes that are too small can lead to problems such as bunions, blisters, black toenails, and numbness.
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Know your foot’s pronation.
Pronation refers to the angle in which your foot rolls after it strikes the ground. Knowing this information helps determine what type of shoe you need. If you overpronate, your foot tends to roll inward or more towards the big toe. If you underpronate, your foot tends to roll outward, or more toward the little toe.
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Neutral, support, or stability?
Running shoes typically come in three categories—neutral, support, and stability. Underpronaters need a neutral shoe with flexibility in the midfoot area, while overpronaters need a support or stability shoe with less flexibility. Those who fit neither category can run in a neutral or support shoe.
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You may have your eye on those flashy, rainbow-colored running shoes that everyone is wearing, but ask a shoe specialist before you let your impulses take over. Make sure to get fitted properly first before you make a decision based on looks or color.
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Consider a second pair.
Having more than one pair of shoes not only extends the lifespan of your shoes, but it also helps prevent injury. Wearing different pairs of shoes also works different muscles in and strengthens your feet and lower legs. Think of it like this—running shoe midsoles will actually regain their shape if allowed to “rest,” similar to Memory Foam.
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Fit is key.
Many shoe companies promote their products with buzzwords such as “minimalist,” “drop,” and “energy return.” No matter what benefit is promised, remember that the single most important factor is the fit.