How to Choose Running Shoes
for Your Running Needs

Many people are confused about how to choose running shoes that will best meet their needs.  While it is important to find running shoes that fit the size, shape and arch of your feet, it is equally important to select the right shoes for your preferred running location and the distances you typically run.

Woman Runner

Every shoe on the market is designed with features that may or may not work well for the circumstances of your running life. Your running needs may also change with time, so you may need to switch to different shoes next season or next year.

Running Surfaces

Consider just a short list of the surfaces you may find yourself running over during the upcoming season:

  • Asphalt
  • Gravel
  • Wood chips/mulch
  • Woodlands
  • Grass
  • Loose or compacted dirt
  • Treadmill

While you probably know what types of surfaces you will run over during training, you should also consider the surfaces you may encounter during upcoming races. Your ultimate goal is to protect and support your feet, and the type of shoe that serves that goal will vary depending on your running surface.

For instance, if you are running on hard asphalt or concrete you need well-cushioned shoes that absorb some of the force that comes from your feet striking against a hard surface. If you running through a wooded area or on an off-road trail, you need lightweight shoes that are easy to lift and maneuver, but they should also be designed for the unique variety of terrain found on the trails.

It is easy to find shoes for the trails, since trail running shoes are a massive market in their own right. When looking for shoes for the treadmill or other surfaces, think about the type of protection and support your feet will need, and then find suitable shoes that offer the features you need. (this feels like it needs more explanation or some links for examples maybe? It seems like it assumes the reader will know what features they need)

How to Choose Running Shoes For Running Distances

The distance you plan on running may also make a difference when selecting a running shoe. For instance, you may select one shoe when training for your first 5K and switch to an entirely different shoe when you train for your first marathon. Any shoe that fits the shape and arch of your feet comfortably should work well for short-distance runs. When you start to put in more serious mileage, you need a shoe that fits your feet well in addition to being lightweight and adequately supportive.

Do You Need Multiple Shoes?

It is not uncommon for serious runners to have multiple running shoes on hand at all times. They may write the date that they started using a pair of shoes on the bottom sole and track their miles in order to determine when each pair should be replaced with a new pair. They have one pair of shoes for casual, short-distance runs around the block, another pair for treadmill running, and perhaps another pair for long distance training.

A runner may have trail running shoes for off-road adventures as well as running shoes for training at the local park. Whether you need more than one pair of shoes will depend on where you run, how often you run, and the mileage that you plan to put in this season.

Even if you only run on one type of surface, you may want to rotate two or three pair of shoes to avoid buying and breaking in a new pair in the middle of an active running season. You can break all of your shoes in at once and then rotate them with each run, ensuring none of the shoes wear out before the end of your running period or upcoming races.

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