A great way to stay or get trim as you gear up to cannonball into the beach, pool, lake, or murky pond is to run more. But if you’re going to run, you need to choose the right running shoes. Typically, you’ll want to replace your footwear every 6-8 months or 330-500 miles, whichever comes first. Thing is, if you’ve had a long layoff, you’re better off getting a new pair and starting fresh.
To help guide you in the right direction, we’ve listed tips that’ll help you choose the right running shoes so you can remain injury-free and look less goofy than running in those ratty old New Balances from college.
1. CONSIDER IT AN INVESTMENT
It’s tempting to head to a local SportsMart and get discounted running shoes for $45, but shelling out a few more bucks will serve you better in the long run. Bargain-priced shoes are almost certainly made with less reliable materials and/or have been sitting in some warehouse longer than the Ark. Chances are you’ll need to spend between $90 and $150 for a running shoe of good to excellent quality.
Also, pick up some new socks. Normal cotton socks, even ones supposedly made specifically for working out, can lead to blistering. (They don’t wick moisture, which makes them wet, which makes your feet wet, which makes the skin on your feet especially susceptible to being rubbed raw.) Try sock brands like Smartwool, Feetures, and Fitsok; look for ones that say “synthetic,” “moisture wicking,” or “cool/dry max.”
2. FIGURE OUT YOUR RUNNING STYLE
How do you do it? Head to a specialty running store to have someone do it for you. (They may have you jog barefoot on a treadmill scan your feet, so make sure your feet are less disgusting than usual.) After analyzing the scan, someone who knows what he or she is doing will suggest some running shoes. It’s quick, painless, almost always free, and totally worth it. However, for hardcore DIY types, try this: Lay a dry towel (a dark color works well) out on a flat surface and get your feet wet. Take a few steps back and run/jog forward, across the towel lengthwise. Try to leave a couple of foot imprints on the towel.
An imprint of your entire foot — little or no arch curve — indicates over-pronation and a need for mild to moderate arch support. A distinct curve connecting your heel and forefoot indicates mild under-pronation and a need for neutral to mild support shoes. And a thin or non-existent line connecting the heel to forefoot normally indicates significant under-pronation (supination) in which case, a neutral shoe is likely your best choice.