A Guide To Choosing The Right Running Shoes
Five expert tips for finding the best sneakers
Finding a good pair of running shoes is not the most straightforward of style pursuits. There’s a baffling array of shoes to choose from, not to mention the technical jargon and impressive-sounding features brands bandy about – usually technological-sounding portmanteaus that would be more suited to Q’s gadget walkthroughs on a Bond film.
So, what are the most important things to consider when buying running shoes? “That’s like asking what’s the most important thing when buying a car,” says Mr Cory Wharton-Malcolm, a certified running coach and the co-founder of London running club TrackMafia. “It all depends on what kind of car you want, and it’s the same with running shoes. There’s no such thing as the perfect shoe, only what is the best fit for you.” But just what is the best fit? To find out, we pestered some running experts for practical guidance on what to look for in our running sneakers. We’ve distilled their tips into five easily digestible points that won’t have you running for the hills – not without the right shoes, anyway.
Norvan VT Rubber And Mesh Sneakers
KNOW YOUR TERRAIN
One of the first things to consider when buying running shoes is where you’ll be using them. Do you prefer a treadmill in the air-conditioned confines of the gym? Are you a committed tarmac-pummeller? Or do you prefer to go off-road entirely? If it’s the former, you’ll be best off with a trainer designed for tarmac and treadmills, also known as a road shoe. “A road shoe is designed to go on a very smooth surface and works with the natural movement of your foot to give you the support that you need,” says Mr Jim Hall, a product specialist at French activewear brand Salomon. “Whereas when you go off-road, there are stones, gravel and the terrain is not flat, so you have a lot more chance of rolling your ankle or straining your limbs. Trail running is everything from running on a tow path to running over mountains in Scotland. Off-road shoes tend to not have as much cushioning as road shoes, but they give you more support and the tread pattern offers more grip.” If you are the kind of gent who likes to run the road not taken (possibly inspired by Mr Robert Frost), try these vibrant red trail sneakers from Arc’teryx, which will endure all environments. Far be it from us to ruin great poetry by paraphrasing it in an article about running shoes, but for the path less travelled, these will make all the difference.
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Free Run 2017 Flyknit Sneakers
When you’ve determined where you’ll be running, you need to consider shoe weight. “If you want to up your speed, first off you’ll want a lighter-weight shoe,” says Mr Hall. “It’s amazing the difference weight makes. You might think that 60g, for instance, wouldn’t make that much difference, but it’s on the end of your foot and you’re lifting it for the duration of your run. By the end of the run, it will take its toll. Just 100g more on a shoe will burn one per cent more energy, which can add up to quite a hefty amount over time.” Nike Running’s Flyknit shoes are especially designed for a “barefoot” feel, and will fit sock-like around your feet for a natural running experience that will keep you light on your toes.
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APL ATHLETIC PROPULSION LABS
TechLoom Pro Cashmere-Blend Mesh Sneakers
STYLE DOESN’T MEAN SACRIFICING SUBSTANCE
Looking good while running is something few of us can master, but that doesn’t mean we don’t want to try. “A lot of people purchase running shoes based either on looks or on price,” says Mr Wharton-Malcolm. “They will buy shoes because they look sexy, but then injure themselves because the shoes were built for speed and don’t offer enough comfort or support.” The key is to consider the nature of the running you intend to do and your foot type. That doesn’t mean, however, that they have to be ugly, as Mr Ryan Goldston, who co-founded sportswear label APL Athletic Propulsion Labs with his twin brother Adam, points out. “You can have a great-looking product that also performs beautifully,” he says. “We wanted to create a brand that sits in the luxury world, but we have true performance and true technology within our products. We spent a ton of time engineering every component, so we feel there’s no sacrifice that needs to be made.” With that in mind, if you want a running shoe that can take you straight from the treadmill to the pub (far be it from us to encourage you to undo all that hard work, however), APL is a great go-to for all-rounder running shoes that will look the part no matter where you end up – these cashmere-blend mesh ones are the perfect marriage of form and function.
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Fresh Foam Vongo V2 Mesh Running Sneakers
GET SOME SUPPORT (IF YOU NEED IT)
“You would never get into water without being taught how to swim, or get on a bike without being taught how to cycle, but were you ever taught how to run?” says Mr Hall. “There’s an assumption that everyone knows how to run, but if you’re just a casual runner who goes out twice a week, you’re not going to analyse your technique in the same way that a professional runner would, and you might blame your shoes before you look at your technique.” Knowing how your technique affects your run can be an important factor in choosing the appropriate kicks, and this depends on something called pronation, or the angle that your foot hits the ground as you run. “You can find out how you pronate at home through a wet-footprint test,” says Mr Hall. “It’s not as technical as something you could do in a running shop, but the outcome is basically the same. When you get out of the shower and step onto the bathroom tiles you can test this. The thicker the part between the ball of the foot and the heel, it’s likely you’ll need a more supportive shoe, and the less it is, you probably don’t.” If you find that you do overpronate, we recommend these Fresh Foam Vongo sneakers from New Balance, which provide stability and support that will come in handy for running long distances.
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Threadborne Blur Stretch-Knit Running Sneakers
DON’T OVERCOMPLICATE THINGS
One of the biggest mistakes people make when choosing running shoes is to overanalyse and come to the wrong conclusion, says Mr Hall. “They might be thinking that they pronate or have sore knees, therefore they need a special type of shoe, but often that’s not really the case. The vast majority of people should be wearing a standard neutral running shoe,” he says. It is important to not make rash, expensive decisions, and often, the best option is the simplest one. So for a standard and neutral road shoe, look to these stretch-knit sneakers from Under Armour – comfortable, inexpensive and reliable. No overthinking necessary.
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