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Running shoes are a staple item in many people’s workout wardrobes. By wearing suitable running footwear for any terrain, a person may improve their performance and reduce the chance of injury.
The most appropriate running shoes will vary among individuals based on their exercise preferences and what they find desirable in footwear. Manufacturers may also alter the construction of a running shoe to make it more fitting for males or females, while a transgender person can look to their own preferences, running style, and feet to select a suitable shoe.
This article will examine what to look for in a running shoe, with some top examples to consider purchasing.
The best running shoe for a person can depend upon their feet, running pattern, and what surfaces they run on. The footwear industry may also use several terms or definitions to describe their running shoes.
The American Podiatric Medical Association note that running shoes should match a person’s foot arch and provide shock absorption.
- Cushioning: Helps minimize the shock to the feet and legs, which in some cases may help prevent injury. This may be especially useful for those who run on hard surfaces.
- Heel-to-toe-drop: Refers to the difference in height between the heel and the height of the toe. This can affect how the foot strikes the ground.
- Heel cup support: This feature may also reduce impact while running, especially when the heel strikes the ground.
- Midsole support: This feature may further reduce impact and help protect against shock.
The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) also add that people may wish to consider the following factors:
- whether the shoe pinches or rubs against the feet
- whether the shoes are durable
- if people require regular or wide fit options
- the terrain they run on and if this affects whether they need shoes with extra grip or more cushioning
They also advise that people measure their feet in a store and buy different shoe sizes if their left and right feet are not the same size.
According to the ACSM, there are several features people may wish to avoid when purchasing a running shoe:
- Too much cushioning: While cushioning can be beneficial, too much may worsen running motions and increase the impact on the joints. A 2018 study also suggests that too much padding can increase the risk of injury.
- Walking gait: People should not choose shoes based on their walking gait, as foot motions differ when running.
- Stability features: Some shoes may highlight stability features, such as additional arch support, but these may cause problems with the feet or knees.
- High profile: Shoes with a high heel-to-toe drop may injure the foot due to the unnatural position of the foot while running.
It is also advisable to avoid shoes that fit incorrectly or those unsuitable for running, as this can result in injury.
The footwear market features a vast range of running shoes available to buy. Below, we provide a list of running shoes appropriate for a variety of different terrains.
Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these products. All product information is purely research-based.
Nike Zoom Rival D 10
This unisex track shoe offers five removable spikes and comes in 3 color combinations. Nike have incorporated various technologies into the shoe, including Phylon midsole cushioning and a special Pebax plate. The company state these features allow the shoe to be breathable, lightweight, and comfortable.
As these track shoes feature removable spikes, it allows the user to customize the level of traction.
Brooks Mach 19 Spikeless
The Brooks Mach 19 Spikeless shoe for females is a spikeless track shoe. Available in two color patterns, the manufacturers designed the shoe to feature an ultralight upper and a rubberized spike plate.
Brooks add that the competitive racing shoe offers optimal traction suitable for both track and cross-country courses.
Saucony Peregrine 10
The Saucony Peregrine 10 is a running shoe suitable for off-road running, including on dirt and rocks. Saucony manufactured the shoe with a special PWRTRAC outsole, which they state allows users to grip nearly any terrain.
The shoes also feature a rock plate, a special insert that helps protect against injury from sharp rocks.
On Running Cloudflow
On Running Cloudflow is a lightweight shoe, weighing in at only 6.98 ounces. The company say it features Helion superfoam, which allows this shoe to be lightweight and comfortable.
The shoe may be a suitable option for asphalt running of any distance. It comes in five colors, while On also offer a 30-day return policy for a person who wishes to try the shoes at home.
inov-8 RocLite 275
The inov-8 RocLite 275 is a graphene-enhanced trail running shoe featuring a tough mesh upper portion to protect the foot from trail hazards.
The shoe also comes with a rubber toe cap, padded tongue, and grippable rubber outsole to provide traction against a variety of trails.
It also features some of innov-8’s proprietary technologies, including the POWERFLOW midsole for shock absorption and the META-PLATE to protect the foot.
Adizero Adios 5 Shoes
Adidas state they have created the Adizero Adios 5 for speed. The company note that the design allows it to be lightweight yet supportive.
The shoes utilize a light and breathable upper and Adidas’ Lightstrike and Boost cushioning, which gives the shoe a springy, energy-returning feel.
Brooks Levitate 2
The Brooks Levitate 2 running shoe features the brand’s DNA AMP midsole technology. The company suggest this allows the foot to spring off the ground with each step for speedy, efficient energy return.
It also features Brooks’ Fit Knit design, which they say moves and expands with the foot as the user runs.
ASICS claim the Dynablast shoe is suitable for runners looking for a responsive underfoot experience during their run.
They also state the running shoe is comfortable and features a lightweight and breathable upper to keep the feet cool and provide support. ASICS emphasize the cushioning of their FLYTEFOAM material, which helps generate soft landings.
The shoe contains recycled materials and manufacturing processes that reduce carbon emissions and water usage.
Hoka ONE ONE Challenger ATR 6
The Challenger ATR 6 shoe from Hoka is a hybrid shoe suitable for trails and road running, for those who like to mix up their running.
The shoe has a thicker midsole yet is still lightweight enough for road running. It also features moderate cushioning with dual layers of mesh to keep the feet cool whatever the activity.
A person can help maximize the life of their running shoes by following these easy steps:
- Refrain from leaving shoes in the direct sunlight or excess heat. In addition, avoid putting running shoes in the dryer as the heat can damage them.
- Remove shoes by untying them, instead of kicking them off. This will help maintain the integrity of the back of the shoe.
- Clean the shoes using a brush or soft-bristled toothbrush, mild soap, and warm water to remove exterior dirt.
- Store shoes on a shelf, stuffed with newspaper or other paper to help the shoes keep their shape.
A person can also consider alternating running shoes daily. Wearing one pair for a run one day, then switching to a different pair the next day gives the protective foam sole time to revert to its original shape.
The APMA suggest that people replace running shoes after 600–800 miles of running or walking, or every 6–8 months. If individuals begin to notice the following, they may need to consider buying new running footwear:
- The bottom of the shoe appears worn-down, with little tread remaining.
- The back support of the heel starts to lean inward. This can indicate this supportive part is breaking down.
- A person notices their legs and feet are more tired than usual after a run, even though they have not adjusted their running style.
Replacing running footwear is vital to avoid injury. Even if shoes do not physically appear worn, they may require replacing.
People new to running or training for long-distance or speed events may wish to seek advice from an expert. Many stores specializing in running and athletic wear will have staff with good knowledge of running shoes, who may be able to suggest suitable options.
In some cases, stores may offer gait analysis. This is where a person runs on a treadmill so staff can determine their running style and recommend suitable running shoes. This service is often free.
Some people may also need to seek help from a foot expert, known as a podiatrist, if they have any injuries or specific footwear requirements.
Running shoes are important footwear for those who enjoy running. Shoe manufacturers craft them for a variety of purposes and with different features. People may wish to consider what features are most desirable in a running shoe when shopping for them.
If someone feels they need help with buying suitable running shoes, they can consult a shoe-fitting specialist.