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Training & advice

The best shoes for you

One of the best things about running is that it is so accessible and so affordable. All you need is a pair of running shoes and you're away. Right? Well, yes, as long as those shoes are the right shoes for you and your running style.

Your running shoes should provide you with several things including:






By ensuring that you are in the right shoes and that they can do all of the above you will enjoy many happy miles and keep injuries at bay. The trick is in finding those shoes and that can be very difficult because of the immense choice that there is. It is rare to complain about having choice but it can feel like you are looking for a needle in a haystack. How do you know where to start and how many pairs of shoes can you try on during a shopping trip?! On a positive note, because there are so many running brands competing for your attention, the quality of  products in the market place is high and very good value for money.

The place to start is with you. You are unique: your biomechanics, strengths and weaknesses will be different from the next runner and what suits them may not suit you. The mistake that many make is to take advice from training partners who love the shoes they are in and recommend that you go and get the same shoe. Before taking this advice, find out about yourself.

The factors that influence your running needs are:

Weight – Your actual body weight needs to be taken into account, as does your running style and how heavy or light you are on your feet. Can you hear your feet pounding the pavement or are you able to run up behind people without them hearing you?

Position of foot strike –Efficient runners strike the ground with their foot underneath their centre of mass but this posture requires conditioning.  Runners who are not well-conditioned often put their heel down first and strike in front of their centre of mass. Some argue that shoes with a lot of cushioning in the heel actually encourage this heel striking action and so everyone should wear shoes with a small drop (in angle) from heel to toe. We would recommend that you condition yourself to be strong enough to run with great posture first and then condition yourself to move into these shoes gradually, just as you would implement any new type of training progressively to avoid injury from changing something too quickly.

How you pronate – As you run your foot should roll inwards and in so doing, use the foot’s natural cushioning system, the arch. The arch of the foot takes much of the impact and so minimises shock further up the body. If you under-pronate you don’t use the arch and so can suffer from greater impact and shock. If you over-pronate or roll inwards too much or too quickly, you are at risk of putting stress on ankles, knees and hips. To find out whether you over pronate you should ask an expert: either a running specialist retailer or a coach. Beware of the wet foot test that some recommend. The writer of this article has high arches and yet over pronates. It is not as simple as high arches = under pronation; flat feet = over pronation!

All of the above will influence how much cushioning, stability or freedom you require from a shoe and the table below should help you decide on the category of running shoe that you will target.








The heavier you are, the more cushioning you require in your shoe


If you are light on your feet you will be able to run in a lighter and more minimal shoe

Position of foot strike



If you are an efficient runner and land with your foot underneath your centre of mass you will benefit from a lighter, more performance oriented shoe


If you under pronate or supinate you are not using the body’s  natural cushioning system, the arch, and so you will benefit from a more cushioned shoe

If you over pronate you will benefit from a more stable shoe



So now that you have an idea of the type of shoe you are looking for you need to find someone who will sell it to you. The best place to buy your running shoes is at a running specialist shop. The staff will be trained on all of the above and more. They may be able to analyse your gait by watching (or filming) you running on a treadmill or a flat surface and they will be able to look at your old shoes and assess your running style from the wear-patterns you have made. To get the best advice possible you should take your old shoes with you when you go, take the socks that you intend to use when you are running and go towards the end of the day when your feet will be slightly bigger than they are at the beginning of the day. Don’t be surprised to move up in size by anything from half a size to two sizes. As you run, your foot expands and so you need to leave between half and a full thumbs width between your longest toe and the end of the shoe, unless the shoes are designed to take this into consideration.

Once the running specialist has made an assessment they will bring you several shoes to try from various brands, in the same category. The rest is up to you. Comfort is on the top of the list.The bottom line is that the shoe has to be comfortable for you to enjoy many happy miles. Once you have the shoes to try, go with your intuition and choose the shoes that you know you will love. Protection is also included on the list. The level of protection you need will depend on the surface you are going to run on. If you are hitting the trails or fells you need to buy shoes with grip and protection from the weather.