If you’re thinking about getting into running, one of the very first things you should be thinking about is your choice of shoe. Picking the wrong pair can give you an unpleasant introduction (or return) to running, and may ultimately lead to injury. That’s why we’ve put together a rundown of the best ways to choose your running shoes, giving you the best lift off into running possible.
Types of Running Shoe
The creation of a cushioned sole is a feature that has made running shoes both better for jogging, as well as working well for leisurewear. While they do a range of cushioning thickness for running shoes, it is a balance between stability, softness, comfort, and lightweight. Choosing the correct cushioning is a great starting point to finding the right running shoes. Here’s our rundown of what each level involves.
- Top-level cushioning and protective technology.
- Perfect daily long-distance running and can handle a high level of impact.
- Ideal for longer races such as half and full marathons.
- An excellent high level of cushioning and performance.
- Great for walks, jogs, and races.
- Versatile and able to take heavy impact through repeated use.
- Lightweight, moderate cushioning, and flexible.
- Work excellently for quick energetic runs as well as race running.
- A great balance between cushioning and a natural feel.
- Works for expert runners and those looking to run at a good tempo.
- Light, mild cushioning and extremely flexible.
- Allows your feet to get used to the impact of the road.
- Used by competition runners.
- Great for developing form and strengthening your feet.
- Lighter, flexible, and offers thin levels of protection.
- Strengthening feet for running, training, and walking.
- Allows a ‘barefoot’ feeling.
This is a running shoe designed to offer added support for reduced risk of injury and comfort for people who are overpronators. Pronation is a natural movement and weight distribution of the foot whilst running or walking, and those with flat arches in their feet roll more inwardly than those with regular pronation. Those who ‘overpronate’ use their bodies to overcompensate to even out weight distribution between their feet and legs. This continuous overuse can lead to injuries such as a runner’s knee, shin splints, and Achilles tendinitis, which can have a long-term effect on regular running. The best way to stop this from happening is through proper footwear, most likely the stability shoe. Developed with a firmer medial post, Stability shoes are made to minimise inward foot roll. They will often be designed with a bar, a wedge, or any other form of solid material that supports under the foot’s arch to balance weight distribution.
In the past stability shoes have been heavier than ‘neutral’ running shoes. However, in recent times they have been designed with both more comfort and minimising injury. This is also done to encourage a more natural movement throughout your gait system, which is how your feet and body move whilst you run.
As the name suggests, these are shoes that are great for handling tougher off-road terrains, offering more traction and stability than road running shoes. They’re also safe for firmer terrains such as roads and pavements, and there are situations where they are actually more useful than normal road running shoes, especially when unpredictable weather conditions make the roads icy or slippery. Many trail running shoes are also more water-resistant and can keep your feet drier during heavy rain or running through puddles. They also come in waterproof versions.
There are also situations where trail running shoes are not best suited. Do not wear them on running tracks, as they may damage the surface, or on other hard surfaces such as concrete, as the stiff sole of the shoe can cause discomfort in the middle part of the foot. Other scenarios where other lighter running shoes are better suited are hot humid weather, or if you are doing a heavier fire form of workouts such as interval or high tempo runs.
For more on choosing your perfect trail running shoe, click here.
The Frequency Of Your Running Sessions
The number of sessions you do a week is a good indicator of your running profile.
Intensive Or Regular Runner?
If you’re used to running more than three times a week, whether you’re just trying to keep fit or training for a race, you should choose footwear with good cushioning for maximum comfort.
The Intensity Of Your Running Sessions
For long runs or competitions from 10 to 12km/h
Are three long runs per week at a speed of less than 12km/h normal for you? If so, choose footwear with good cushioning that will reduce the effect of shockwaves and ensure maximum comfort. The stability of the footwear will also be important for supporting your feet over long periods.
For slightly faster running and competitions ( faster than 12 km/h )
We suggest slightly more lightweight shoes, as they have a more dynamic structure, providing a better boost.
For achieving personal best times with speeds > 14km/h
If you enjoy running fast and are always striving to beat your PB, you’re likely to be running faster than 14km/h. An ultra-light, fast and dynamic shoe is ideal. Of course, you don’t have to stick to one kind of running shoe – you might want to train in a more cushioned or lighter style, then lace-up for competitions with something lighter and more dynamic.
Pavements and Roads
When it comes to running on harder terrains such as concrete, your choice of shoe will be an important factor in avoiding injury. Taking into account some of the aspects we’ve spoken about above, including what kind of feet you have, next up it’s vital you know what kind of road runner you want to be. If your goal is long distance road running, you’ll want a pair that provides you with plenty of support but still has a cushioned lightweight feel. If you’re running for speed across, look for a lightweight shoe that still provides a supportive cushioned feel.
If you are looking to run on slightly wilder tracks, normal running shoes may serve you well up to a point, but for those that are only running off-road, trail shoes are a much better option. Make sure you find a good outsole, which should have lugs that are at least 6mm deep, ideally 8mm if you're running in seriously boggy conditions. Of course, if you hit harder terrain these shoes may become a little less useless, which is why (among other reasons) you should know your route when you plan to run off-road!
Analysing Your Gait
Gait analysis is an excellent way of working out what shoe works best for you. We’ve already talked about pronation, but how exactly can you analyse your gait?
We’ve put together a few ways below:
Here are a few ways to be able to tell what kind of running shoe you need.
- Check the pattern of your old running shoes. If the soles show signs of the heaviest wear on the inside of the heel and also under the ball of your feet, you may well have a low arch and may benefit from stability shoes. For normal pronators, there will be an even wear across the bottom of the shoe, and under pronators will show heavier signs on the outside of the heel compared to the inside of the heel.
- Analyse your running by video in slow motion on either a treadmill or flat surface. Study whether your knees and legs are either going straight ahead or are rotating toward the inside. If it looks like they are rotating inward or that you notice that your knees are rub together, that usually means you are an overpronator.
- The wet test. This is an excellent way of finding out what type of feet you have. Begin by putting a blank piece of cardboard on the floor. Whilst barefoot wet the bottom of your foot and then stand on the cardboard, bending your knees to the point where you are almost squatting. Straighten up and step off the cardboard. By looking at the strength pattern left of the cardboard, you will be able to determine what kind of feet you have. If you can see most of the pattern, this will indicate you have low arch feet and may require stability shoes.
Heading into a Decathlon store: We can also analyse your gait for you! Check your nearest store here.
Choosing the Right Shoe Size
This may seem a surprise, but finding your correct size when choosing running shoes isn’t as simple as it sounds. While shoe sizes can vary depending on the shape of your feet, running experts believe that it is best to go half a size bigger when picking up a pair of running shoes. This is because if the shoe is even a little too tight, there is a strong chance you will get blisters and potentially black toenails. Alternatively, if the shoe is too big, it can also rub and wear out the skin on the more abrasive areas of your feet. To gain some context, allow for at least 1-2.5cm (a thumb's width) between your longest toe and the end of the shoe. To get a proper sense of width, you should be able to pinch some material at both the sides and top of the shoe.
Choosing Running Socks
Again, if you want to stay comfortable while running and avoid blisters, you may want to purchase the correct running socks. They’re also great for wicking moisture, which will both help keep your feet, skin, and running shoes in good condition. Many running experts believe that purchasing a good pair of shoes and then not buying appropriate socks can cause long term damage to them. When shopping for running socks, look for ones made of either synthetic fibres or merino wool. They may also include cushioning thickness at the toe and the heel, mesh ventilation which allows the sock to breathe, arch support if you need it, and also separated or seamless toes. Running socks can also include two layers to help with avoiding blisters, and some level of compression which can aid circulation. Click here for Decathlon’s running sock range.
It may feel like there’s a lot to remember when it comes to choosing running shoes. In a way that’s correct, but like running itself, as soon as you get going it will all start to fall into place. Remember that not one type of running shoe fits every person and every single kind of situation, but by knowing the type of thing you are looking for, you should be on the right track (or road, or muddy terrain).
Our Running Brand - Kalenji
While all our running shoes will work for any road runner, some are better at longer, more frequent running, and similarly, different designs have been adapted to suit a slower or quicker pace.