THE PUBLICATION RUNNER’S WORLD has provided advice on shoe buying for years. I can recall waiting for the seasonal review articles that guided shoe selection to appear in the paper magazine way back before the specialty sport periodical had an online presence. Yes, that long ago.
In these earlier days, the shoe selection process emphasized ‘pronation’, the natural rolling motion of the foot that occurs at landing. Today, not so much. A RW article by Kiera Carter in mid-August 2018 explains the three conditions- normal or neutral, under-, and over-pronation- and how they are related to foot arch height. Which explains why in recent years questions about pronation in online “shoe finder” tools are more likely to be replaced by those which inquire about arches (high, normal, or low).
Other pieces of information about runners’ physical characteristics that influence shoe selection guides include gender, body weight, foot strike tendency (heel, mid-foot, or forefoot), and sometimes leg positioning (straight or angled-in or -out at the knee).
Runners’ main goals are also taken into consideration, such as faster speed in competition, longer distance, or health and fitness not related to competition. Running surface is another important variable that receives attention (trail, paved, treadmill, etc.).
Runnersworld.com no longer offers a comprehensive selection tool. Rather, the site provides reviews with helpful information. For example, individual articles might assist with determining the best choice within specific brands, finding deals within a desired price range, learning about the latest technology advances or model upgrades, or identifying features for specific weather and training conditions. Each season there is an article highlighting shoes earning RW ‘awards’.
Other companies still offer actual finders: Roadrunnersports.com offers a Shoe Dog finder, and Runningshoesguru.com a “wizard”, but the rationale for the final selections (why certain shoes were or were not selected) isn’t made clear.
Running shoe selection is a complex process. The first best step for many will be to get properly fitted at a running specialty store. There’s no rule you must buy the shoes recommended at that first visit. After leaving the store you can delay purchasing and perform more research. Online reviews, other runners, other specialty stores are resources.
Use the information learned at that visit to gather more information. There are a few brand models that are commonly recommended as safe bets for newbie runners; it’s usual to receive the same recommendation from several stores. Start by purchasing the safe choice if uncertain and continue to educate yourself about various shoes you see worn by others, advertised, or reviewed online. Most running specialty stores will allow you to return shoes if they don’t work out, and most runners don’t abuse this privilege. I’ve returned one pair in 40+ years of running and now walking.
Competitive walkers will also find shoe selection daunting if they hope to not settle for the sturdy mostly all-white and all-black models advertised as formal walking shoes. These models may primarily be designed for people with stability issues, medical foot problems, or jobs that require long hours on their feet, not for fitness training.
Honestproductreviews.com provides a review of shoes that serve a range of needs, which includes other helpful shoe-shopping related information. Performance walkers without health or work issues may wish to broaden their search and look for shoes with features that optimize a rapid walking gait (heel to toe footstrike).
The athletic footwear market has expanded to include fashionable pairs worn any day, any time. The style appeal of 'sneakers’, whether for fun or serious sport performance, means that certain models can sell out quickly. Each year, it seems that by the time I get to reading about cool shoes that will commemorate the running of the Boston Marathon, some of the current year models are no longer available. Best to buy quickly if you have your eye on ‘hot’ new models and special editions.
Shoe shopping can be tons of fun. Use the slow winter season to check out all that will be available for the spring running and walking season. Another recent runnersworld.com article by Kiera Carter includes some models that will have just been, or are scheduled soon to be, released. Carter promises there will be updates.
RUN & MOVE HAPPY!
BRIDGE TO PHYSICAL SELF
Running, walking, and fitness activities enable us to experience our physical selves in a world mostly accessed through use of fingers on a mobile device.
EARNED RUNS is edited and authored by me, runner and founder. I began participating in road races before 5Ks were common. I've been a dietitian, practiced and taught clinical pathology, and been involved with research that utilized pathology. I am fascinated with understanding the origins of disease as well as health.
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