The Right Shoes Make Running Fun

Your shoes are the only thing between your body and the surfaces your feet keep pounding, so this is gear you need to think about carefully.

You don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars on track star shoes when you’re taking your first strides, but there are many things to consider when looking for the support you’ll need:

How Much You’re Running

Midsole cushioning is the most important feature for any shoe to have, but it’s even more essential if you’re a daily or near-daily runner.

The Surfaces You Run On

Trail running shoes generally give you better traction and stability on uneven surfaces and provide more protection for your ankles from rocks and other projectiles. Road running shoes typically have mesh uppers to keep the shoe more breathable.

The Shape of Your Feet

Runners with flatter feet will require more arch support to keep their feet from rolling inward, while runners with higher arches will need to correct in the other direction. The easiest way to tell what kind of arch you have is to look at the outline of your bare foot’s print in water or sand.

Once you have a good grip on the kind of shoe you need, it’s time to invest a little time to select, either in a physical store or online. If you’re trying shoes on in a store:

  • Try to go in the afternoon or evening after a day of working or working out has expanded your footprint toward its upper limit.
  • Wear the same type of socks you will be once you’re on the road or trail.
  • Make sure there’s no slipping in the heel.

If you can’t get to a store or local shops don’t have the kind of shoe you need:

  • Go up half a size from what you usually wear to allow for your foot’s expansion.
  • Consider the heel-to-toe drop. If you are an inexperienced runner or have tight calves a larger difference between the padding in the heel and toe (about 10 millimeters) may reduce the pressure on your Achilles tendons and calf muscles.