If you want to get started in the world of running and choose your first shoes, the first thing you need to know is that there are no perfect shoes. The best shoes, beyond a model or a brand, will be the one that adapts to your needs according to several factors that we will analyze in this article, so take good note.
Points to keep in mind when buying your first shoes
1. Go to a Specialized Sports Center
The best thing is to go to a specialised sports centre where an expert can analyse your footprint and, according to your needs, recommend the shoe models of different brands that may be the most suitable for you.
You should always try on your shoes first and check that you are really comfortable with them, as if you were not wearing them. We recommend that you wear your own socks, which you will use for running, and check that they are comfortable.
During long or intense training sessions and in warmer climates your feet will tend to dilate and swell, so they will need a little extra space. In this case, you can do two things, either go and try the shoes on in the late afternoon when your foot is more swollen or buy your shoes with an extra size (if you wear a 43 for example, you can buy a 43 and a half).
This way, you will be sure not to buy shoes that will be too tight when your foot tends to dilate, or that will be too loose. To avoid the latter, avoid trying them out early in the day when your foot size is smaller.
On the other hand, you will probably see many offers in online stores with fantastic discounts, but the risk of buying a pair of shoes without trying them first can be very expensive. However, if you already know your size for a certain model that you have experience with and feel comfortable with, you can buy them in an online store.
2. You need comfortable running shoes
Throw away the idea of using those comfortable shoes you wear to go paddling, hiking or playing football on the weekends. If you want to start running on a regular basis, you need to buy shoes that are adapted to the exercise you are going to do. If you are going to run at least once a week, get shoes that have good cushioning and are very comfortable, as these are the two key elements.
Keep in mind that even if you don’t want to run long distances from the start or prepare for a marathon, you still don’t have a good runner’s technique and you’re likely to have some runner’s habits. By choosing well cushioned shoes to start with, you are less likely to get injured and can gradually improve your running technique. However, you should not just be guided by the shock absorbers: later on we will see that overdoing it is not recommended either.
Fitness and race pace are also important. If you are not used to doing sports and you know that you are going to start running at a slow pace, choose flexible and cushioned shoes. If, on the other hand, you are already in good physical shape and your muscles are more developed and flexible, you will need lighter shoes with less drop (difference in height between heel and toe) and less cushioning.
3. Training Surface and Weather
It is important that you consider the terrain where you are going to carry out your training. It is not the same to run on grass, mountain, asphalt, cement or track. That’s why there are different types of beginner’s shoes that are also adapted to any type of surface. So it’s best to determine where you will regularly go running to help you choose the shoes you will need.
If you’re going to run on asphalt, for example, you’ll need shoes with good cushioning. Whereas, if you run in the park or on the grass, stability will be more important and your sole will require more grip. If you dare to run on stonier terrain or rocky trails, then you’ll need trail shoes that provide more grip, stability and protection.
The weather is another key point to consider, even if you don’t think it’s important. If you live in a rainy area or you go running early and the terrain can be wet or slippery, look for a shoe that has the best possible grip on the surface where you will be training.
4. Your type of footfall and running style
It’s not the same to be a pronator, supinator or neutral runner. You’ve probably heard this before, but you don’t really know what it means. It has to do, indeed, with the footprint you make when you run.
Pronation is the turning of the ankle into the foot while running. Pronation is not a bad thing, in fact, it is a natural mechanism to cushion the body’s weight. But if pronation is excessive, we will notice a pattern of increased wear on the outer inner edge of our shoes. In the long run, over-pronation can cause discomfort in the runner, so it is advisable to buy the right shoes to correct this.
When the pronation is not too pronounced, but the footprint is basic enough to only absorb the shock and relieve the pressure on the knees and joints, then we will talk about neutral or biomechanically efficient runners.
Supination occurs when the turn of the ankle is towards the outside of the foot during the gait. In this case, the reduction of impact on landing is insufficient and the wear pattern in the shoe is usually at the outer outer edge. Only about 5% of runners are supinators, so there is not much variety in shoes specifically for them. If this is the case, you’ll need shoes with more cushioning and flexibility to correct your footprint.
If you want to know what your type of footprint is, it is best to go to a professional for a foot test.
5. The Structure of your Feet and the Weight of your Body
Other factors to consider are your body weight and the structure of your feet. Running shoes generally have recommended weight ranges based on the stability and cushioning you need. If you weigh 65 kilos, for example, you can wear light shoes with less cushioning, while if you weigh more than 90 kilos, you should buy shoes with much more cushioning.
On the other hand, finding out what kind of arch support you have, if you don’t know, is very easy. You can either go to a chiropodist or have your footprint tested. Knowing what type of arch you have (low arch or flat feet, normal arch or high arch) will go a long way in narrowing down the type of shoe you need and in making it as comfortable as possible.
The width of your foot is also an important factor if you want maximum comfort. Try to choose shoes that are not too tight and that have a certain amount of clearance inside them to avoid blisters, chafing or other ailments. There are brands that manufacture different shoe widths, the most common being size D for men and size B for women. The difference between sizes is usually half a centimeter, so if your foot is narrower or wider, do not hesitate to use the size that suits you best.
Don’t neglect other health issues related to any chronic or occasional injury that you often have. Consult your doctor or physiotherapist before choosing your shoes. For example, if you are prone to spraining your ankle or knee, it is always better to buy shoes that provide as much stability as possible. Similarly, if you tend to suffer from cramping or overloading of the calves, it is always better to wear shoes with a high drop (greater difference in height between the heel and the front of the foot).
6. The budget you have available
The first thing you should be clear about is that ‘expensive’ does not necessarily mean ‘better’. You will find some models of sneakers in the market up to more than 200 euros, but those may not be the most suitable for you. Likewise, don’t buy cheap and flimsy shoes, because if they are uncomfortable you will get discouraged immediately or injured more easily, and if they wear out or break down very quickly you will have to buy others in a short time.
What you need are shoes that have the necessary attributes to suit you. That’s why it’s best to invest in good running shoes that will last longer and be as comfortable as possible, without being driven by trends or fashions alone.
In short, be realistic when you buy your shoes. There are high-end shoes, of course, but you’re just getting started. Get a mid-range shoe and if you get hooked and progress or want to try out a different type of training ground, you’ll have the opportunity to buy a better shoe. Remember that over time the tread pattern will wear out and you will have to renew them whether you like it or not.
7. Avoid Making Certain Rookie Mistakes
At the beginning I told you that one of the key elements when choosing a good shoe is the cushioning it offers, and it’s true, but without exaggeration. According to recent studies, choosing shoes with excessive cushioning favours heel strike, significantly diminishes the perception of adapting to the terrain when running and does not allow the muscles of the feet to tone up and gain the strength they should. So choose cushioning, but in moderation.
Avoid by all means buying too heavy shoes, no matter how much you like the colour or the model you have tried on. In the long run they will only cause you problems, so always opt for a lightweight shoe that doesn’t weigh more than 300 or 400 grams.
Don’t forget the toe of the shoe, which is the front part of the shoe where your toes are located. It is essential that the width of the toe is large enough so that your toes do not collide with the shoe (hence the advice to buy an extra size). Omitting this and running with a narrow toe will cause your toes to deform, arch or ride on top of each other and even suffer internal trauma, causing them to blacken and bruise.
Find the perfect shoe for you!
Don’t buy shoes because you’ve seen them on sale or because an athlete you follow wears them. There are many different brands and models, just as there are many runners with different tastes and bodies, so it is impossible to determine which are the best shoes to start in the world of running.
That is why, taking into account all the factors we have seen in this article, it is best to go to a specialized store and have them help you choose the perfect shoes for you. If you are convinced that running is going to be part of your life, don’t neglect the search for your shoes, they will be your best ally to become a real runner!