People often ask me what running shoes I wear and for pointers in selecting their own. First off, I want to mention that I am an Ambassador for New Balance. I don’t have to wear their shoes, but I choose to because of the expertise that goes into their product. I believe in selecting the right shoe for the right activity: it can save a lot of grief later.
When it comes to selecting the right running shoe, the first step is matching your running and biomechanical needs with stability, cushioning, lightweight, trail, and motion control. The crew at New Balance will tell you the same thing. I should mention that I have a lot of friends who have taken up barefoot running in the last year. It has surged in popularity and many people believe it to be more natural. While I’m not a barefoot runner (except in my own backyard!) I will speak to the fact that it does force new and even more experienced runners who transition to it, to ramp up slowly (a good thing in any new activity). The bottom line is that you’re more likely to feel discomfort before it becomes pain and leads to injury.
So here we go. The lowdown on running shoes:
Motion control shoes:
Motion-control shoes are the most rigid, control-oriented running shoes. Designed to limit over-pronation (or slow the rate at which a runner over-pronates), motion-control shoes are generally heavy but durable. They may include features such as a medial post (for pronation control), a polyurethane midsole (for midsole durability) and a carbon rubber outsole (for outsole durability). Many are built on a straight last, which offers stability and maximum medial support.
You should buy these shoes if: you are an over-pronator who needs control features and places a premium on durability. Or: if you wear orthotics and want a firm midsole and deep heel counter. Or: if you are a heavy runner who needs extra durability and control. Runners with flat feet often do best in motion-control shoes.
Stability shoes offer a good blend of cushioning, medial support and durability. To provide stability, these shoes often have a medial post or dual-density midsoles. They are usually built on a semi-curved last.
You should buy these shoes if: you are a mid-weight runner who doesn’t have any severe motion-control problems and wants a shoe with some medial support and good durability. Runners with normal arches often do fine in stability shoes.
Cushioned shoes generally have the softest (or most cushioned) midsoles and the least medial support. They are usually built on a semi-curved or curved last to encourage foot motion, which is helpful for under-pronators (who have rigid, immobile feet).
You should buy these shoes if: you are an efficient runner who doesn’t over-pronate and doesn’t need any extra medial support. Runners with high arches often do best in cushioned shoes.
Lightweight training shoes:
Lightweight training shoes are lighter versions of standard trainers. Usually built on a semi-curved or curved last, lightweight trainers are for fast-paced training or racing. Some lightweight trainers are relatively stable; others are not.
You should buy these shoes if: you are a quick, efficient runner who wants a light second shoe for fast-paced training. Or: if you want a racing shoe, but want more support and cushioning than you’d get from one of the pure, super-light racers.
Trail shoes offer increased outsole traction, midsoles similar to those of stability shoes and uppers with toe bumpers and reinforced stitching for more durability.
You should buy these shoes if: you do a lot of off-road running and need shoes with extra traction, more durable uppers and extra protection from stone bruises.
When it comes to kids with growing feet, do get them properly measured and fitted each time. Avoid handing down shoes from an older child to a younger one when possible and don’t stuff a too-large shoe with tissue or multiple insoles until they grow into them.
TIPS! Just getting started with running? Try our 5K Running Program. It’s designed to prepare you for a 5K run in about eight weeks.