How to Choose Running Shoes: Ultimate Guide for Beginners

Whenever you are buying Running shoes you need to consider various factors which are very obvious like brand, price, colors, style, terrain, foot type. Most people in India buy running shoes based on the look of these shoes.

Regular runners and professional athletes actually know how to choose running shoes since they understand their foot mechanics, gait and undergo a lot of coaching and training. But if you have just begun running or planning to start running on a daily basis then you definitely need to educate yourself in choosing the right running shoes for yourself.

This post has been written keeping in mind, a beginner level runner.

Most people in India including our closed friends usually buy running shoes based on their looks and colors. Ask the next person you see wearing a running shoe about the shoe mechanics and what kind of running shoe they are wearing. You will be surprised that more than 90% of people who buy running shoes in India are not educated adequately to choose the right running shoes. They will only tell you about the brand of the shoes and that its very lightweight and comfortable running shoe.

The running shoe that your friend is wearing may not be the right shoe for you because each person has a different arch type and running form. For example, your friend might have narrow feet while you have wide feet and the shoes that are comfortable for your friend will not be comfortable for you.

Remember you are not buying sneakers online, you are buying running shoes online. Therefore you need to ensure that you are choosing the right type of running shoes for your feet to avoid any injuries.

First Know Your Track

For a better understanding, we listed the types of tracks for you. Whether it’s a recreational activity or a preparation for the marathon, the type of track you choose holds immense importance in the shoe selection process. The types of tracks usually found in our part of the world are:

Synthetic Track

A synthetic track is an artificial, rubberized, all-weather running surface mainly used for professional athletics. The main advantage of this type of tracks is that it provides the runners with a consistent surface, with good shock-absorption that causes minimum adverse effects to your joints. This improves the runner’s performance results as compared to other surfaces and also doesn’t let adverse weather conditions get in the way. Due to the artificial nature of these tracks, and being a separate independent system from their surrounding environments, they do not deteriorate over time and can be maintained easily with little effort.

The most important fact about synthetic tracks, however, is that it is this type of tracks that the Usain Bolts and the Florence Griffiths of the world test their athletic abilities and push their limits on. These are the tracks which have seen so many memories being made, so many tears of joy as well as disappointment being shed. In short, these are the tracks, where history is made! So if you’re planning on going pro and representing your country, this is the type of track where you should head towards.

Such synthetic tracks can be found in a number of places in India, mostly in stadiums. The Birsa Munda Athletics Stadium in Ranchi or the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium are a few examples where synthetic running tracks can be found, among many others.

Selecting the shoes for such a surface is of great importance. If caution is not taken while selecting shoes, it might result in causing damage to the surface. Different synthetic tracks around the world have their own specification, however, the most common requirement is that shoes with pyramid shaped spikes that don’t exceed 6 mm (1/4 inch) in length should be worn, to keep the damage to the surface at a minimum.

Grass and Turf

If you’re thinking of going for a run in your local park, this is the kind of track you’ll come across. These tracks can be found all over India, and provide an ideal spot for a nice morning jog or run, to keep-up that feel-good attitude throughout the day.

Such a type of track, however, comes with its own pros and cons. The pros are that it provides a nice cushion while running, lessening the rebound, thus minimizing the stress caused to your joints.

On the flip-side, your time on this surface will be slower and you are more likely to ‘over-pronate’ (later explained in the section titled ”Motion Control Shoes”). Also, due to grass being a natural type of surface, there’ll be potholes, marshes, uneven ground, and sometimes even animal droppings. So you have to watch your step while running on grass and turf.

Keeping that in view, the ideal shoes for such a surface are those which provide a good arch support, and cushioning that will protect your heels. Also, grass tracks can be slippery when they’re wet or when there’s dew present. To deal with that, shoes that have thicker soles (e.g. trail shoes) should be selected as they provide better traction and stability.

Dirt Tracks

Dirt tracks are usually considered one of the best surfaces to run on, after grass tracks. Another thing dirt tracks have in common with grass tracks is that they’re both very commonly found throughout the world. However, there are variations again just like grass tracks; there are two sides to the picture.

The positive side is that such tracks have the right amount of hardness and leeway to make for an ideal track for running. Such dirt tracks are usually found in forests etc.  While the negatives side is that if the dirt tracks that you’re running on are rocky routes on mountains or deserts, the uneven nature of the tracks may cause an injury to your ankles.

Having said the above, the ideal shoes for a dirt track may vary for the type of dirt track you’re planning to run on. For a softer and more even dirt track, such as a forest trail, the shoes you wear should provide you with ample cushioning, good flexibility and proper structure.

For a harder and more uneven kind of dirt trail, the idea of shoes are ones which provide you with proper traction and a good amount of protection to avoid any oddly shaped pebbles or rocks that you might step-on during the run. However, in doing so, the extra protection and traction shall result in lower flexibility and added weight due to the protective layers.

Asphalt Tracks

If you’re a city dweller than you’re more than likely to have such tracks nearby. Asphalt tracks are hard in nature (not as much as concrete). In fact, they’re the hardest type of running track amongst those mentioned in this article. However, with great hardness comes great rebound. The harder the surface you’re running on, the faster your runtime will be, as it provides a greater rebound force which pushes you forward resulting in a faster runtime.

So if you’re in the mood for setting a personal record for the fastest run time, an asphalt track is your best bet at doing just that!

It should be kept in mind though, that the hardness of the surface and the greater rebound it creates will have a stronger impact on your joints than most other surfaces (remember Newton’s Third Law? Any action shall result in an equal and opposite reaction). Also, another downer related to this surface is that on sunny and/or hot days, it’ll feel as if the track is radiating the heat from the surroundings on to you as you run along, causing dehydration.

So, in order to avoid any potential injuries to your joints due to the hardness of asphalt tracks, the ideal kind of shoes for such a surface are those that offer good cushioning to lessen the strain caused to your joints. Shoes that offer protection and support are also good for such tracks. Also, in order to out-run (pun intended) the problem of dehydration, it is advised to keep along a bottle of water or energy drink to keep yourself well hydrated throughout.

 

What are the main types of Running Shoes and which one you should select?

Running Shoes are basically classified into 3 main types.

  1. Neutral (cushioning) shoes
  2. Stability shoes
  3. Motion Control shoes

Almost all leading brands design these shoes based on a runner’s foot (arch type), pronation type (running form) and terrain you run on (road, trail, grass, tracks). Also, most shoes are designed for daily running (short distances) and some are marathon running shoes made for (long distance running).

Stability Shoes

As mentioned earlier, pronation can cause knee injuries and spasms. However, stability shoes are for those runners that have mild to moderate pronation that needs to support the arch side of each midsole.

Neutral or Barefoot Shoes

These kind of shoes are extremely lightweight and makes one feel like touching the ground, hence the term ‘barefoot’. Most of these running shoes do not contain a heel pad or a cushion to support the arch. The contact between your feet and the ground is as minimum as 3-4mm.

These are unconventional shoe type that usually encourages a mid-foot landing. This type of landing is preferred by runners who want a direct landing, a substitute for heel strike which might put pressure on the heels of the feet.

Minimalist Shoes

Efficient runners with a natural stride who require the perfect combination of cushioning, responsiveness and the right distance between the ground and the sole, prefer the minimalist style of shoes. With a heel drop of almost 4-8mm, this shoe type offers a natural motion while running.

How to choose the right running shoes

Picking the right running shoes is a simple and straightforward process.

Once you identify your arch type and pronation you will be able to buy the best running shoes online. Understanding your arch type is a once in a lifetime process and once you are able to figure out your arch type then selecting the right running shoes will be an easy and straightforward process for you.

Not only this you will be able to guide your friends and other people to buy and wear right running shoes.

Let us understand this simple and straightforward process to choose running shoes as beginners.

Step 1 – Identify your arch type

An easy way to understand your arch type is by doing a wet test. Its the combination of these things that need to be considered before buying running shoes online. You will have one of these following arch types.

  • High arch or medium to high arch
  • Normal arch or low arch
  • Flat Feet or very low arch

Step 2 – Understand your pronation

An easy way to understand your pronation type is by looking at your old shoes.

Step 3 – Where do you plan to run (Road / Trail / Track)

Most people in India run on roads or footpath and therefore need shoes which are made for Road Running. These Road running shoes but if you plan to run on trails then you need Trail Running Shoes

Step 4 – How frequently do you Run?

If you run on a daily basis or 3-4 times a week you need Daily Running shoes. However, if you are planning for a marathon then you need marathon running shoes.

You can use this Cheat Sheet every time you need to buy running shoes online.

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Now that we understand our arch type and pronation how do we buy right running shoes according to my arch type?

Imagine walking into any sports and athletic wear store in India looking to buy running shoes. Do you see anywhere written which shoes are made for high arch or low arch feet? No, they don’t because they don’t want to confuse an average buyer who is not educated on how to buy running shoes.
Also, it would mean that more time to be spent on educating their own staff about various types of running shoes so that they can educate consumers. This is not the trend in India but very well followed across all western countries. If you don’t believe us then you can watch this video.

How to buy the best running shoe online.

#1. Go to this website – Runrepeat.com

#2. Click on the desired type of running shoes you are looking to buy.

For example purposes, let’s take the example of a good running shoe – Nike Zoom Winflo 4. You can enter the name of the shoe in the search window to pull up the details.
How to select right running shoe

#3. Read the reviews

You will notice that there are 97 ratings and 2 expert reviews of Nike Zoom Winflo 4 shoes. You can read the reviews of these experts who have already tried and tested these running shoes and they provide a valuable insight about the shoe, its features, pros and cons.
Also, notice that every shoe on this website has a CoreScore which is a combination of inbuilt formula that they have designed to provide an accurate and unbiased score out of 100. The higher the number the better are these running shoes.

Pick running shoes according to arch type

#4. Check quick facts about the type of running shoes.

You will notice that these are Neutral shoes, made for road running and can be used for daily or short distance running only. These shoes are not made for marathons.

You can also filter these running shoes by Brand, Gender, shoes type (Road, Trail) and sort them based on popularity, Corescore and newest.

Unfortunately, the price and discount feature is not applicable to buyers in India because these are based on online stores that deliver only in US/Canada and Europe.

Is there any similar website in India where we can filter shoes based on arch type, pronation and brands.

This online store in India – Myntra.com will help you to choose best running shoes according to your arch type, pronation and terrain type. You can also check and sort the prices of these shoes and if there are any discount on branded running shoes. We will show you how to buy the best shoes for running in India.

Point your mouse on Men and scroll down to the Sports Shoes section as shown in below picture.

Choose best running shoes Myntra

One you reach this page you will notice an option to select shoes based on your arch type. Lets select medium arch type on this screen.

Buy Best Shoes from Myntra

We need to verify if the information on Myntra is correct and whether Nike Downshifter 7 is for medium arch runners. For this we need to go to Runrepeat.com.

Best Running Shoes online

As per Runrepeat Nike Downshifter is made for normal, high or medium-high arches. Therefore its clear that we can buy running shoes online from Myntra.

Bonus Tip: One you are able to find out your favourite running shoe based on your arch type, you can further filter them based on discounts.

Discounted shoes online in India

Rinse and repeat these above steps until you find the best shoes for running online.

Summary: Choosing the right shoes for running is not a complicated process. Once you figure out your arch type and which type of shoes you need just need to compare the prices of these shoes and buy best the best running shoes at the lowest prices. This guide will not only help you in choosing the best running shoes online but also this will help you to choose the best running shoes from retail stores.

Final Tip: If you are still confused about which running shoes are best for you then you can just buy neutral running shoes to start with.

FAQs for Buying Running Shoes Online

Should I buy running shoes bigger than the normal size.

Its always safe to buy shoes which are half a size bigger than your normal size. This is to allow your feet to wiggle around while you are running. Therefore you should ideally buy shoes which are half a size bigger than your usual size. It is therefore very important to measure your foot properly because each brand has its own size guidelines.

How do we measure the exact foot size?

First things first, the best time to measure your feet is either in the afternoon or evening when your feet have flattened out. If you try and measure your feet in the morning you will notice that they are a bit smaller than the size that you took during the afternoon or evening. Therefore it is better to do it in the evening. Just keep in mind that every centimeter counts when you are looking for buy comfortable running shoe.

Can I use Trail running shoes for Road Running?

You can occasionally use your trail running shoes for running on hard road surfaces and pavements but not everytime. We don’t suggest that you use trail running shoes whenever you go for road running but you can certainly use them once in a while. This is because trail running shoes are made for rugged terrain and nature trails, to offer more traction and stability to the runner.

It is therefore advised to keep a pair of shoes for road running and a different pair for trail running.

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