The best running shoes for you

Some say that the quest for the best running shoes is a lot like buying a car. I’d say it is more akin to dating. You are looking for a long-term relationship. Outside beauty may be what initially attracts you, but ultimately it’s what’s inside that counts. It’s about chemistry. Do you work well together? You will only know when you take her/him out on a running date. While training you’ll be spending many hours in your running shoes. You’ll be logging a significant amount of miles so make sure that it’s a relationship you feel really good about.

running shoe
My Ugly Feet

That chemistry will be what ultimately determines the perfect fit. They may not be the flashiest pair on the block, with all the latest gadgetry, but for you, it just works. After a few training runs, if it’s just not working out, don’t be afraid to have the hard conversation. You might need to tell a good pair of Asics, “It’s not you, it’s me.” But be strong. Find the right fit and your feet will thank you.

The only thing between your feet and the constant pounding against the pavement is your running shoes. Gotta treat them right. Before you venture out and hit up the running shoe stores, look at your feet and consider their needs. How will you know which running shoe will be best until you know what kind of feet you have? Your foot tells a story about what type of running shoes may be best suited for you.

Running Shoe

Foot types

There are three main foot types, which are determined by the arch. They are flat, neutral, and have high arches. If you ask my wife she’d say that mine are in their own special category, ugly.

While running, the arch of the foot collapses or pronates, to help with shock absorption.

Flat arch foot

The flat-footed runner has a fallen arch. This means that when running because there is little or no arch, they land flat on their foot causing the foot to roll inward. This is known as overpronation. Without proper care, it can lead to injury in the long term.

High arch foot

A high-arched foot causes underpronation or supination which leads to landing on the outside edges of the feet sending a shock up the legs. Like the flat-footer, if not cared for, those high arched runners can experience pain and injury over time.

Normal arch foot

Neutral feet have the perfect arch. They are right in the middle of the road and need less of the support and stability that flat and high arched runners need. Running shoe buying tends to be a little bit easier since they are looking more for fit and comfort.

What Kind of Foot Do You Have?

Best running shoe models

To meet the needs of the many different feet out there, shoe manufacturers have developed running shoes to accommodate a wide variety of runners. As you begin this speed dating process, a good place to start is to know your foot and then align with the proper shoe model.

One of my early mistakes was that I started running in a shoe that didn’t fit my foot very well. I went to a big box sporting goods store for shoes without previous knowledge of the needs of my feet. I did, what I think most people do, picked the snazziest one’s on the shelf, tried them on, and then bought them. What I found each time I ran my pinkie toenail on my right foot was boring a hole in the wall of the shoe. The shoe was just too narrow for my w   i    d   e   feet. I had not done my homework and consequently, I did not buy the best running shoes for me.

Running shoes for flat feet

The flat-footed runner should lean toward a more stable shoe model. This stability is to help counteract overpronation by giving the foot the support it needs to minimize inward roll. The best running shoes for the flat-footed runner are motion control. From my experience, they are not the sexiest shoe on display due to the fact that they are more utilitarian in nature. They tend to look a little like grandpa shoes. But, don’t be distracted by all the flash. Find the perfect fit for your feet. That should be your sole purpose.

Running shoes for high arches

Runners with high arches, aka an under pronator, or supinator, have an arch that does not collapse enough to absorb the impact of pavement pounding. This can result in additional shock traveling up your legs and spine leading to soreness and injury. The best running shoes for underpronators are “neutral-cushioned shoes.” They have a softer midsole which encourages the arch to collapse.

Running shoes for normal arches

Normal pronators, or the neutral foot runner, can wear whatever shoe they want. Normal arched feet are best suited for a stability shoe. This will provide arch support.

Running shoe stores

Once you know what type of shoe model you’re best suited for, the next step is to head over to your local running store. 

For your first shoe buying experience, these local running shops are great. Running stores are typically staffed with experienced runners to help answer all your questions. In my experience, they are happy to help you navigate through the many different shoe options. Many locations help with gait analysis where staff watch you run on a treadmill or outside to help find the right shoe. They are there to help give direction and guidance. Try on a lot of different shoes. Try different brands, different sizes, different widths, and try them with different socks.

Take a jog around the block in each pair. Take as much time as you need. Spend the afternoon there and do whatever you need to do to make the best choice possible. Remember it’s a long-term relationship so make sure you find the right one. So, when all is said and done, you’ll just know when you’ve found the one. The perfect fit, the very best running shoe for you.

best running shoes
Garry Gribble’s Running Sports in Lawrence, KS