This year is going to be your year. You’re going to start running, shed those unwanted pounds, feel great and look even better. Whether it’s marathon or trail running, or simply jogging round the park, it can be needlessly perilous if you don’t have the right pair of running shoes.
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Running is a great option to stay in shape. Its free, you’ll soak up some good quality vitamin D and fresh air whilst doing it, and you can do it anywhere, at any time, and at any pace. If you’ve committed to running more this year, a quality shoe is the first thing you’ll need to invest it. A well-fitting pair of running shoes means that you can run in comfort for longer, you’ll avoid injuries and stay motivated.
More men than ever are taking the necessary steps to stay in shape with increased awareness of the health benefits of regular exercise. There is a lot of jargon out there however when it comes to running shoes and it can sometimes feel overwhelming. The athletic footwear industry is now worth billions and consequently there is technology available in recent running shoes that would rival the work of NASA. It doesn’t have to be complicated though as there are only a few key things that you have to consider to ensure that you’re on the right track.
Finding the Right Running Shoes
Before you start looking at different styles of trainers, you need to know what is going on with your feet and ankles. Pronation is the way the foot rolls from your heel to the toe when you walk and run. It is part of the natural movement that helps the lower leg deal with shock. There are three different types of pronation – basic or neutral pronation, over-pronation, and under of supination. Knowing which movement that you have will heavily impact on the type of running shoes you will need.
A few ways that you can determine what pronation you’re working with are:
- Visit a specific trainer shop and use their specialised scanners.
- Look at an existing pair of shoes to see where they have worn down. Whether it is evenly spread (basic pronation), worn down on the inside (over-pronation), or the outside (supination).
- Take you’re shoes off and with bare feet stand on a wooden floor. You will be able to see a mark where your foot has been and depending on how much surface area has touched the floor will determine your pronation.
You will also see whether your have a medium, high, or low arch depending on how much of your sole is in contact with the floor. If the arch of your footprint is filled in you have a low arch. If your footprint shows little or no contact along the outside edge and you see just your heel and the ball of your foot, you have a ‘high’ arch. If you see about half of your arch region filled in, you a neutral arch – this is the most common.
Best Shoes for Running
These are the top things to look out for when buying a pair of running shoes:
Before even setting eyes on a shoe you will need to get your gait analysed. This will determine the support that you will need to evenly distribute weight across the foot when running. If the sides of the shoe curve in (like a figure of eight) it is aimed at those with supination as it will protect the outside of the sole. If the sides are straighter its protecting the inside of the sole so is aimed at those with over-pronation. Those with neutral pronation should have a mixture of the two.
You must try the running shoes on, tie the laces, and walk around for a while. Trying them on without walking around is pointless. They may feel comfortable as a fashion trainer but it might be a different story when running. You don’t want too much space at the back of heel, you shouldn’t be able to fit a finger there. You also don’t want it too tight around your toes as this will put unnecessary pressure on your toe nails and will cause pinching at the sides. If its too tight or too loose you will get blisters at best and perhaps a serious injury at worst.
This is integral to ensure the longevity of your running shoes. No circulation means that your feet will overheat. There will be a build up of bacteria and it will start to smell. If left it will cause the material to degrade over time. Most running shoes will be made with multiple layers of mesh allowing sweat to evaporate effectively from your foot. Running in the rain is not ideal and running shoes aren’t designed to be waterproof but breathable fabric will allow them to dry out quickly if you are caught in a shower.
If your shoes have got wet through, take out the in-soles and dry them separately. If the shoes are really saturated, it helps to hang them or position them so the worst of the water can run out easily. You should then stuff them with newspaper to soak up the worst of the remaining water. Never put the shoes in a tumble-dryer or attempt to accelerate the process by placing them in direct sunlight or on a radiator. This will affect the glues that are used to bind all trainers together. Shoes can literally fall apart if treated incorrectly.
It is important to consider your terrain. Are you going to be running on the road, off-road, or on a treadmill? If most of your training is off-road, then road shoes with built-up heels are unsuitable because you will be more unstable and could potentially turn an ankle. Similarly, a pair of more rigid trainers with deeply studded outsoles will be very uncomfortable on tarmac, as the studs will press into the soles of your feet. A road running shoe must not be too stiff as it will stop your foot flexing naturally and cause excessive stresses that can lead to injury.
Different Types of Running Shoes
Like most footwear there’s a range of designs, with each one helping you cater to specific needs. Whether you need a pair of trainers for short sprints, uneven trail running, or long marathon runs, there’s one out there to keep you supported and prepped for anything.
Trail Running Shoes
These shoes will have a specific set of features to provide comfort and stability on all kinds of rugged terrain. The most integral quality to look for in a trail shoe is the level of grip the shoe offers. The outsole of a trail shoe will have deeper tread to provide traction and stability on slippery and uneven surfaces. Trail shoes are also generally harder wearing, with more durable uppers. Trail shoes also tend to have a lower profile for stability as it helps the wearer to respond quicker to the changing terrain.
Most trail shoes suit all types of pronation due to the nature of running off road e.g. uneven ground on which the foot is more mobile.
Most off road shoes are stiffer and require a longer breaking in period than road shoes, so be wary of this if buying for a race. It’s also worth bearing in mind that most trail shoes offer less cushioning than their road counterparts, so should not be used for long distances on road.
Most runners will want lightweight running shoes over a long distance. Even an extra ounce adds up over the course of 26.2 miles. That being said, feet that are running over an extended period of time need support and cushioning too. You will want a running shoe that is minimalist enough that you can feel light on your feet, but is built up enough in the heel and midsole to provide some protection, especially at the latter end of your run.
Best Lightweight Running Shoes
Specific marathon shoes are not for everyone. In fact they’re not for most people unless you’re an elite marathon runner. The best lightweight running shoes will provide support and cushioning for the average runner yet will still maintain a lightweight feel.
Cushioning on your running shoes is very important for runners whose feet do not roll inward or outwards (basis pronation), as it is this rolling movement that helps absorb the shock that would otherwise be sent through the joints to the spine. Cushioning enables foot motion and is ideal for those with a high arch.
Those with over or under pronation should opt for motion control running shoes. They are built to reduce or control the excess rolling action of the foot and act as shock absorbers too. These can feel a little rigid however so it is definitely worth walking around in them for some time when buying.
Asics Running Shoes
Founded in 1949, men’s Asics running shoes are often considered to be at the forefront of running technology. The company invests in innovative high-speed cameras, hi-tech measuring equipment and sophisticated computer software to ensure they meet the needs of athletes.
The rise in ‘athleisurewear’ has meant that items that were traditionally confined to the gym have made their way into mainstream leisure wear. Men are wanting technical sportswear that’s stylish and practical too. Thanks to increasingly sleek designs its no surprise that men are wearing sports shoes down the pub as well as the gym.
For those of you that plan to stick to the confines of a gym, you have the potential of utilising your running trainers as a daytime option too. You will need to look after them properly if using them for a dual purpose. Let them breath once they’ve been worn on the treadmill to avoid any unwanted smells – no more ditching them in the bottom of your gym bag between sessions. Nike running shoes often strike that balance between function and fashion particularly with their Free Run Commuter model, inspired by those who make the time to run despite having busy lifestyles.
Best Cheap Running Shoes
As with anything, you get what you pay for. If you choose to buy a cheaper pair of running shoes then they will inevitably be void of the most up to date trainer technology. Modern running shoes are intended to be more comfortable and less strenuous on your joints but is there any merit in buying cheaper running shoes?
There is a recent emerging trend that has been named ‘minimalist running’ in the running world. This can refer to any footwear that lacks high-cushioned heels, stiff soles and arch support, it can even refer to running bare foot.
Recent running shoes tend to encourage runners to strike the ground with the heel first, this puts a lot of pressure on the body. To wear ‘minimal’ running shoes you would need to adopt the running style of our ancestors by landing with a flat foot (mid-foot strike), or by landing on the ball of the foot before bringing down the heel (forefoot strike).
Your Quick Guide on the Best Running Shoes for Men
- Generally you should replace a pair after 500 to 600 miles.
- Ensure they are ‘fit for purpose’ – different terrains require different qualities.
- Gait analysis is key to ensuring a great running shoe.
- Runners should consider using running-specific socks as they have extra padding across the ball of the foot, toes and the heel area.
- Head-to-toe colour coordination is not great. Pick subtle trainers and brighter clothing or vice-versa if wanting to bring colour into your gym gear.
On That Note
Try not to feel too overwhelmed next time you’re due a new pair of running shoes. Don’t settle for any old pair because they seem like the cheapest or safest option. A good pair of running shoes really can take your running to the next level so it is important not to cut corners when buying a pair. Contemporary designs ensure that you can remain looking stylish when working out – garish fluorescent running shoes are now a thing of the past.