The most important piece of equipment any runner needs is a good and trusty pair of shoes. Choosing the right pair of shoes is essential to maximizing your running experience and preventing any untoward injuries resulting from the wrong choice of foot gear.
Good shoes will give good traction to help your feet grip the ground firmly. They allow for good balance to help you concentrate on plowing forward and not wobbling and slipping. And since we are mentioning slipping, good traction is essential to avoid slips and tumbles — the cause of many a sprain and injury. When choosing a shoe, check its traction and ask if the shoe holds well even on wet surfaces. You may test it for a few minutes to get a feel for its grip before purchasing it.
Your shoes will also have to be durable. Running shoes are some of the most punished shoes around. So it isn’t a surprise to see that running shoes are designed with durability in mind. You take about two steps per second when you run — that’s one step per foot. When you run for about 15 minutes, each shoe will have taken about 900 cycles of punishment. It’s even more if you run a lot harder and a lot longer. Your shoe will have to absorb that much punishment. So it is imperative that your shoe be durable and made of strong material. When choosing a shoe, check its materials. Look for any design flaws that allow for easy breaking or wearing out of any parts.
Choose shoes that are comfortable. As said earlier, the shoes will take a constant pounding every time you run. However, it is not only your shoes that will take a pounding. Your feet will take a share in punishment too. When choosing shoes, make sure that they are very comfortable. The shoes you choose do not have to be very foamy. This type of shoe carries a greater risk because the structure comprises balance. Go for designs that absorb a lot of shock. They should be soft but firm. Try running with them while choosing. If you feel a slight jar in any part of your feet, especially on the balls and the heel, you may want to look further. Sometimes, bad shoes will cause a jarring sensation in your skull when you are running, avoid these as well.
Unfortunately, even with proper cushioning, your shoes will eventually wear out as well. Rubber cushioning toughens up through time and loses much of its spring. You will have to be sensitive to this. If your running shoes gradually lose their shock absorbing abilities, go purchase a new pair to avoid injuring yourself.
Consider your foot type when choosing shoes. There are three types of feet — flat, normal, and high-arched. You can test your feet for type by using what is called a wet test. Wet your feet and step on a dry surface. If it shows the whole of your feet — or a typical flat footed look, then you have flat feet. Normal arches are when you see a slight C shaped arc from the balls for your feet to the heels. High-arched feet have a pronounced C-arch running from ball to heel; the imprint of such feet look as if the balls and the heels were connected by a tiny piece.
Those with flat feet will need shoes that have greater control, since flat-footer runners have difficulty running with good form. High-arched runners have trouble with balance because they teeter so. They also are prone to straining their plantar fascia. They will need well-cushioned shoes to keep balance.
Also, when choosing shoes, make sure you do not rush your choice. Take a few minutes per shoe to determine cushioning, comfort, traction, and other quality oriented observations. It is also advisable to choose shoes at the end of the day, when your feet are at their largest. This helps avoid choosing shoes that are suddenly too tight when you start running (and have blood engorge your feet).
Never underestimate the value of the running shoe. It will be your most treasured companion during your running experience. Never overestimate its lifespan as well. After a good full year of running service, you should retire your shoe and purchase a new one.