Running is one of the most versatile and effective exercises you can get into. It doesn’t discriminate against age, gender, or even athletic ability. You can go hardcore and run ultramarathons, or take a nice 5km jog just to break a sweat. But one of the greatest things about running is the fact that you don’t need much to get started—all it really takes are some comfortable clothes a decent pair of shoes.
But even if the gear required is pretty minimal, don’t make the mistake of taking it for granted. Running may be simple, but the constant pounding of your foot against the surface can take its toll on your feet and knees. Getting the right shoe is essential for you to maximize the benefits of running and avoid injury.
Before anything else, the first thing you should consider is the type of surface you will be doing most of your roadwork on. Running shoes nowadays are so advanced that they are specifically designed for certain terrain.
If you’re going to run on concrete or asphalt, then running shoes with a bit more cushion is best to compensate for the hard surface and provide a bit more shock absorption. If trail running is more your thing, then trail shoes with more defined tread and ankle support are best so you can avoid injury. Hybrid running and specialized running shoes are also available if you have a very specific situation or need—it’s best to ask running coaches or podiatrists for their professional opinion when it comes to these shoes.
Another important aspect you should look into before you hit the road is your running style. You might think that running is as simple as putting one foot in front of the other, and to some degree you are right, but once you start to build up the distance, your running form will start to matter. Some people are forefoot strikers (meaning the balls of the feet land first when they run), others are heel strikers, and others still are midfoot strikers. Different runners also have different running gaits—meaning they have different degrees of pronation. The proper running form is an entirely different discussion altogether, but for the purposes of this article, the important thing to remember is that the right footwear helps compensate for whatever style of running you fall into. Consult a running coach to have your running style analyzed and buy the shoe that is specifically made for that style.
Obviously, getting a shoe that fits right is the goal. But a lot of people get confused about what exactly the “right fit” is. Some favor shoes that are slightly bigger to give their toes some wiggle room, others prefer a shoe that is snug believing that it will eventually conform to the shape of their feet. In the end, it really is a matter of preference since getting something too loose and something too tight are both ill-advised. The next time you’re shopping for a pair, try to keep these thing things mind.
Try on a pair at the end of the day- your feet naturally expands in the evening after an entire day of standing on them. This will help avoid buying a pair that is too small as well as mimicking the size your foot can get during a long distance run.
Give your toes a bit of space- While the width of your shoe should be snug enough so that it doesn’t move side to side when you run, you can give your toes a little room to breathe for a bit of circulation.
Wear your actual running socks- when you are fitting a running shoe, make sure you try it on with the same type/actual socks you will be using during the run. Most athletic socks are thicker than office socks so you might inadvertently end up with an extremely tight shoe if you misjudge the actual thickness of your sport’s socks.