April 17 2020
Running remains a staple hobby during these strange, quarantined times. Many of us are increasing mileage to fill the newfound free time, or returning to it after a brief hiatus. Wherever you’re at, I’m sure you think about the main equipment used for this joyous pastime- our shoes!
There are a lot of options when it comes to what we runners put on our feet. If you’re like me, making decisions on this sort of thing can be ridiculously stressful. With that in mind, I made this post in hopes to provide somewhat of a helpful guide, or at least alleviate some stress of sneaker-shopping! 😊 This is basically a short list of what I think about, including my opinions on shoes.
To figure out what kind of shoe I’m in the market for, I think about these questions:
What type of running are these shoes intended for?
Every day road running? Trail running? Road racing? XC racing? These could all use different shoes!
- Road running: for every day runs on the sidewalk, road, cinder path, or whatever. These could be neutral, have a good about of cushion, and some other specs, depending on your responses to the other questions in this post.
- Examples: Brooks Ghost, Asics GT2000, New Balance 680v6, Topo Fly-Lyte, Topo Phantom, Nike Pegasus, Mizuno Wave Rider,
Tip #1 – many websites (like Brooks) offer a “shoefinder” feature. Try to find this.
Tip #2 – When I want to try a new shoe, I buy one pair of my current ones, and one pair of my old ones. That way, I’m not stuck if I am disappointed with the newbie.
- Trail running: for runs along trails, through dirt, mud, up/down mountains or hills, likely water-proof, probably a subdued, natural looking hue like slate grey or brown. Websites should have a tab that specifies “trail running shoes.”
- Examples: Brooks Cascadia, Asics GelVenture, New Balance Women’s 590v4 FuelCore, Topo trail running shoes, Solomon trail running shoes.
- Road racing: These shoes include “racing flats,” which tend to be flashy, attractive, sleek, and lightweight. The characteristics of these shoes aim to make us feel fast and confident during a road race. I wouldn’t really want to run in Road Racing flats day to day though; they don’t offer a ton of support.
I used to run road-races in these..
Blue cheetah-print Nike Lunaracers = confidence boost to make me super speedy
XC racing: For running cross-country (XC), I want slim shoes with metal spikes to dig into the earth and help propel myself forward. I would avoid buying these for any other purpose… Although I know people collect them!
What is the furthest distance you plan to run? How far do you run per week?
It’s good to know the furthest distance I intend to run in these shoes, as well as how often my feet will be slamming into the ground. This helps me determine how much cushion I want on them. Most people prefer to be in the middle of two extremes:
Extreme minimalist: Vibram FiveFingers
They look so silly, but I don’t know much about them. I like the idea of running “naturally,” but I wonder if this is just a marketing ploy. Regardless, they’re the most extreme example I could think of!
Extreme “Maximalist”: Hoka Graviota 2
I also think these are silly looking, but a lot of runners really love them, including my PI!
Where on your foot do you land when running?
There are a few ways to determine this one:
Option 1| Look at the wear patterns on old shoes. Follow this guide from Runner’s World Mag https://www.runnersworld.com/gear/a20835825/whats-your-wear-pattern/
Note that the article is from 2007, so a lot of the shoes they recommend may be unavailable and/or more suitable shoes for a given wear pattern may even be available.
Option 2| Use information from gait analysis programs to determine landing patterns line foot strike, turnover (cadence). The most highly rated programs for this are available for individuals (https://www.coachseye.com/package/individual), but are pretty expensive. To circumvent the cost, you can get a gait analysis done at a gym, a local running store (Well, not currently #COVID19), a physical therapist office if you see one.
What is your budget?
Shoes are an investment. Be prepared to drop some $ on a good pair, but know that it’s worth the cost to avoid discomfort or injury. Once a “staple” shoe has been identified, scour these sites (below) for that shoe. I recommend looking for the second or third newest model of the desired shoe, because these will usually be a lot less expensive without being that different from the “latest and greatest.”
I run in Topo’s. They’re a low/no drop shoe with a wide toe-box. I like the low drop because it reduces the strain on my calves over many miles, and the wide-toe box helps reduce the frequency of black toenails!
I determine a (rough) budget for the shoes I want based on my weekly mileage (see above) and cost of the shoe I want. For example, I spend about $150-200 on shoes per year because I run 50 miles/week, and each ~$75 pair stays with me through about 800 miles. Each pair is very well-loved… perhaps too well loved.
Generally, people seem to swap out shows after ~400 miles. I’ve been advised to buy shoes more frequently, but I don’t think it’s necessary. I think it depends on the shoe, and the wear on the shoes. My Topo’s can really take a beating:
All-right, hopefully this was helpful. I realize that there are many people who are more well informed of this topic than me, and I totally welcome their comments below.
P.S. If anyone is interested, I have size 7.5 Blue Topo Magnify’s that I will give away to the first person who is interested 😊 Think of it as a reward for reading all the way to the end of my blog post!!