I have always loved to run. Ever since I was a wee tot, I have been notorious for dashing everywhere as fast as possible. In Australia, I would run on grass, sand dunes and the track. The softer surfaces were gentle on my young body, and I successfully evaded injury. As a track athlete in the US, my training volume was higher and mostly on the track. The importance of the right running shoe quickly became apparent.
Post-collegiate, the right running shoe has allowed me to sustain a regular running schedule relatively injury-free. Check out my tips below to find the right running shoe for you:
1. Get a gait analysis:
Seek out a specialty running shop in your area for a gait analysis. Running shoes usually fall into one of three arch-support categories: neutral, moderate stability and stability. Neutral shoes are typically designed for people with high or normal arches, while stability shoes are best for those of us who are flat-footed and/or pronate in. A gait analysis will determine the degree of arch support right for you and help prevent shin splints, stress fractures, arch pain (plantar fasciitis), and knee problems.
2. Consider Cushion:
The right amount of cushion is essential to reduce your risk of impact-related injuries such as stress fractures and tendonitis. If you’re running on hard surfaces (concrete, track, or trails); running high intensity intervals; or adding bounding, hopping or jumping into the mix, pick a shoe with a little more cushion. If most of your work is on turf or grass, you may be able to get away with a shoe with less cushion.
3. Buy the right size and width:
There’s nothing more annoying than a painful blister mid-run! Choose a shoe that’s the right size and width to prevent blisters, gait compensations and injury. Aim for about an inch between your big toe and the end of your shoe. Little toes should not stick out of running shoes, ever. A sale price for a slightly smaller size than you need is not worth it!
4. Take them out for a test run:
Most specialty running stores will let you take their shoes out for a quick spin. In fact, some will let you take them home and return them, providing that they are in near-perfect condition (no mud runs, thanks). Running in your running shoes is the best way to test if the shoe is right for you!
5. Replace regularly:
Replace your running shoes every 300 miles (or less if you are doing high intensity stuff) to stay pain-free. Cushion and support diminish with mileage and impact. Your 5-year old running shoes belong in the bin, not on your feet!
Edwina Clark is a seasoned wellness dietitian with experience writing, lecturing and designing wellness programs for Google, State Street, Adidas, Intel, EAS, Sheraton, and Cancer Treatment Centers of America. She holds both her Bachelor’s and Masters degrees from Boston University, where she served as Captain of the Track and Field team. Edwina hails from the sunny shores of Sydney, Australia and is an avid runner, keen cook and travel enthusiast!