Everything You Need To Know About Running Shoes

Link Copied


Everything You Need To Know About Running Shoes

Words by Mr Tayler Willson

21 April 2024

Running, by its very nature, is exponentially hard. It’s an all-over body workout as old as time that, at any given moment and for any given reason, can suddenly feel horrendously tortuous. That said, when equipped with the correct footwear, the old one-foot-in-front-of-the-other thing can be a lot easier. Hear us out.

Put simply, the world of running footwear has never been more advanced. This means that while there are a plethora of sneaker options to choose from, it’s easy to become overwhelmed with jargon and technicals. Sure, the regular plodders out there might know the difference between an easy shoe and a tempo shoe (we’ll get to that later), but for those new to the game, it can all be a bit of a footwear minefield.

Luckily, with marathon season now upon us, we’re here to make things a little easier for you. Meaning first, you don’t give up on a good habit, and second, you don’t find yourself wearing the wrong shoes on the wrong occasion.

You likely still won’t be chasing the coat-tails of Mr Eliud Kipchoge anytime soon after reading this. However, if you are going to get anywhere nearer to clinging on to the Olympian’s afterburners, this guide will stand you in good stead, at the very least.

01. The style

The mileage shoe

When it comes to a good mileage shoe (the shoe you’ll be doing most of your miles in), you’re going to need to be comfortable. So, more often than not, you’ll be after a shoe that has a plush, bouncy midsole with a particularly comfortable upper. Note, your mileage shoe isn’t necessarily the shoe you will run your personal bests in, but it’s certainly the one you’ll spend the most time wearing. Or it should be, anyway.

“I look something heavy and supportive when it comes to a milage shoe,” says Mr Sam Parsons, professional runner for adidas. “Keep it simple – I think I’ve fallen into the trap where I blame the shoes too much when, in reality, it’s just my body that hurts or is sore from a hard workout the day before. Typically, when I find a shoe that feels good and doesn’t feel like I’m running barefoot after 100-200 miles, I stick to that.”

The trail run shoe

If you’ve ever turned up to a trail run wearing a pair of non-trail sneakers, you’ll certainly know how important it is to have a pair of these in your rotation. For starters, your trail shoes are exactly that: shoes for the trails. This means they’ll be grippy, lightweight and, more often than not, coated in some sort of Gore-Tex protection. While you can wear also trail shoes away from the gravel, they are best served atop uneven, treacherous terrain.

“A good trail shoe not only has to have all the requirements a trail shoe needs – a grippy outsole and a protective upper – but they need to be able to get dirty, too,” says Oliver Hooson, co-founder of London-based collective Your Friendly Runners. “There’s nothing worse than feeling like you’ve ruined a pair of good-looking trail shoes on their first muddy outing.”

The easy run shoe

An easy shoe is exactly what it sounds like: a running shoe for your easy days. This is your everyday shoe, which means no fancy forward-propelling carbon plate inside the midsole and no state-of-the-art outsole in search of personal bests. Instead, your easy shoe is your bread and butter go-to, a shoe derived from bells and whistles that simply serves the job it intends to. It’ll have a super-cushioned midsole and be on the more comfortable end of the scale.

“Most importantly, I need something easy to slip on,” Hooson says. “That said, I also need a certain amount of bounce and energy return in an easy shoe. Something springy, but without a carbon plate or anything like that.”

The super shoe

This is what we all came here for: super shoes. The clue is in the name with this one, shoes that when worn make you feel super. But how? Well, super shoes can be determined in a number of ways, most commonly with the inclusion of a full-length carbon plate that not only propels its wearer further, but does a lot of the groundwork for them, too. This year, World Athletics will be introducing regulations which limit the height of the shoe stack to 40mm, but if you’re reading this as an amateur running, it doesn’t make a blind bit of difference.

“For race shoes, I’d say the more aggressive, the better,” Parsons says. “I want to be running at my highest potential for as long and as efficiently as possible. I want tons of cushioning, carbon plate and white colour, which give me a feeling of having light feet, and look good while doing it.”

The stability shoe

A stability shoe is a little more structured and rigid than other styles and designed to better support the inside of the foot. It’s a big deal for runners who overpronate (which means when the arch of the foot collapses excessively downward or inward) and while it usually may not be the most design-forward or fastest silhouette out there, it’s certainly one of the most comfortable. Brands such as Hoka One One and ASICS are renowned for their stabiliity shoes.


A cushioned midsole makes the shoe more comfortable and enhances its lifespan, too. It also serves as extra support for runners who suffer with weaker joints. It’s typically designed to absorb and distribute shock across the foot and body during each stride, providing a responsive and relieving feeling underfoot.


The first time I wore a pair of carbon-plated shoes, I set a new 5km personal best by more than two minutes. Now, I’m not saying carbon shoes will see everyone hit a new record, but having that extra boost on race day certainly makes a difference. In layman’s terms, without getting too techy, the inclusion of a carbon plate allows the wearer to run faster for longer, taking away some of the stress by way of a performance-enhancing plate. Be warned, though: wearing carbon shoes too much has been linked to injuries among runners, so save them for special occasions.


Back in the day (by which I mean any time before 2019), everyone was wearing minimalist running shoes. No carbon, no gigantic midsoles and no super tech. Instead, it was about having a medium-sized midsole beneath a lightweight upper and letting your legs do all of the work. Even with a vast array of shoes now on offer, there’s most certainly a place for a minimalist runner in your rotation – not least for when you really want see what you’re capable of without the enhancement of a techy sneaker.


Although all sneakers have some grip of sorts, some are better than others. If you’re planning on hitting the trails or going off-road, getting your feet into an ultra-grippy pair of runners is most certainly the way forward – look for outsoles with deeper lugs, or micro-spikes for trail running.

03. Soles


Having a firmer midsole underfoot (such as On Running’s proprietary CloudTec) not only does it offer more energy-return than other soles, but it can make for a more adaptable shoe that could well be good for both easy runs and sessions. However, a firm sole isn’t to everyone’s liking – so make sure to thoroughly check how they feel beforehand.


The Ultraboost by adidas is the perfect example of a super-bouncy shoe for those whose feet are in need of a little boost. Sure, a squishy midsole doesn’t lend itself well to personal bests, but it makes for a more comfortable, springy ride.


As with everything, there’s always a middle ground when it comes to firm versus bouncy, which is exactly where brands such as Saucony and Brooks often come in. They aren’t too cushioned, nor are they too firm – but just right.

04. Aftercare

The first rule of cleaning your running shoes is to not put them in the washing machine. While this might seem like a novel (and easy) idea at the time, your shoes can often come out irrecoverably misshapen, while the water can also damage the fabric and adhesives.

Instead, follow this six-step guide on how to keep your runners as fresh as possible.

01. Mix a bowl of warm water with around 30ml of mild detergent

02. Remove any dry and/or loose clumps of dirt from the shoe

03. Dip a brush or an old toothbrush into the water mixture and begin scrubbing away. Start by tackling the shoe’s upper, before moving onto the midsole

04. Clean your shoelaces in the water mixture, too

05. Pat dry your shoes with a paper towel; stuff the shoes with paper towels, and wait for them to fully dry. Note: don’t dry your shoes on a radiator, as this can often cause them to lose their shape

06. Once dry, and if desired, spray your shoes with some sort of footwear protection, such as Crep Protect

05. Replacing your running shoes

Different types of shoes have different lifespans. For example, adidas’ $500 Pro Evo 1 was designed to last the distance of just one marathon, while Hoka One One’s Clifton 9 could conceivably last more than 500 miles.

But for those of us who haven’t yet taken running that seriously, and for those after something different to a Hoka, it’s said that you should look at re-upping a shoe after 300-500 miles.

Now, having 200 miles of leeway isn’t ideal, but that’s because each shoe differs so much nowadays. Nonetheless, you can always feel when a shoe is losing its spark, either that or you can visibly see it.

Of course, how well you look after your shoes – and whether you treat the uppers with a protection spray – also affects their longevity. Point is, when you feel it’s time, it’s probably time. And who doesn’t like an excuse to buy a fresh pair of runners?