Guide to buying new runners
7 Things to Think About Next Time You Get New Runners
Runners in Melbourne often will ask me for running shoe advice and what the best shoes are. In truth, there isn’t a simple answer but considering these 7 things next time you are shoe shopping will help you to find the perfect shoes for you.
- Intended use– the first thing to consider is why you are getting new shoes. Are you replacing your worn out runners that have lasted over 1000km? Are you looking for a big change after getting lots of blisters from the latest model of your favourite shoe? Are you looking for a second pair of lighter shoes for your faster sessions? Consider your previous experiences and what you want to get out of your new shoes – it will help you avoid the same mistakes and guide you towards shoes that have the qualities you need whether it’s lightness, support, cushioning or durability.
- Shoe Store– there is nothing wrong with online shopping or going to a large sports store, just be aware that you won’t get the same level of input or quality guidance that you will get from a good specialist retailer. Be mindful of being talked into a particular model or brand of shoe just because that’s the only shoe in your size – this isn’t a reason to buy it! Also, just because the model you bought 5 years ago worked really well doesn’t automatically mean that the current version will.
- Marketing– don’t get caught up in the hype surrounding particular shoes or technology. Much of this technology has been developed with elite athletes in mind, who are already running extremely fast and efficiently. Whilst it may help a Kenyan Marathon runner go a few seconds faster, there are far easier ways (e.g. regular strength training) to achieve bigger benefits in the average runner.
- Comfort– comfort is key! The foot should feel happy in the shoe – supported without feeling squashed, cushioned without feeling like you are disconnected from the ground. If you normally wear insoles whilst running take them with you and make sure the foot, insole and shoe all work well together. If the shoe isn’t comfortable, I wouldn’t bother with it. Going through a long wearing in process can be frustrating and painful and there are so many shoes to choose from why compromise the comfort of your feet?
- Shoe Features– anything added to the shoe whether it be gel, air, stability, height, will all add weight. If you know that you need these things (based upon your history and intended use) then that’s fine but be wary of shoes with extra features as the average 10k runner won’t need these features and all they do is add weight to the shoe and slow you down.
- Drop– in recent years the trend of minimalist (barefoot) shoes has highlighted the varying approaches to the “drop” or slope of a running shoe. Running shoes have traditionally been built on a 10-12mm drop but now shoes can be found wide variety of drop heights. The effect of changing drop is very person-specific but going from a 12mm drop shoe to a 0mm drop shoe will definitely change the loads on your body! Of course, this may not be a bad thing but do a bit of research (all companies list the drop of the shoe on their website) and go to a specialist retailer or health professional if you are making a significant change (more than 6mm).
- Brand– in terms of what goes into a shoe there isn’t much difference between the different brands. However, they do all have different approaches which affects the shoes they make! This is why people often find that certain brands seem to suit their feet better. However, this can change over time so if you find that the latest shoes from your “favourite” brand don’t feel so great then don’t be afraid to try something else.
Check out John’s Running Podiatry website to help you take the next step – http://www.runningpodiatrist.com.au/
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John Charles graduated with honours in Podiatry from the University in London, and has since worked in both public and private practice. Additionally, he has completed additional training in dry needling and sports massage, and regularly employs these therapies in his podiatry practice. He has extensive experience in video gait analysis, fitting of athletic footwear, and prescribing orthotics and insoles.