3 Things to Remember When Buying Your Next Pair of Running Shoes!

All runners love buying new shoes, regardless of whether we need them or not. We often get overwhelmed by choice, especially when there are so many fun designs and fancy colours catching our eye. Oh and the sales! Everyone loves a bargain, I know I certainly do.

There are hundreds of different shoes to choose from and so many things to consider. How can we possibly know which shoe is right for us? Should we just follow Eliud Kipchoge’s lead and get ourselves a pair of Nike Vaporfly Nexts so we can run a sub-2hr marathon? No. It’s not that simple (although I have tried the Vaporflys and they are pretty cool and fast!).

Need or want to get new shoes but don’t know where to start? Keep these three things in mind.

  1. Don’t make big changes unless you need to.

Assess how your new shoes differ from your old pair in features like:

  • Stability/rigidity level (how much movement is in the shoe?)
  • Motion control (how much does the shoe prevent your foot and ankle turning in?)
  • Heel to toe drop (don’t go from a “normal” running shoe [one that’s higher at the back than it is at the front] straight to a minimalist shoe, especially if you have a history of achilles and calf problems)
  • Weight (how heavy are your shoes?); and 
  • Stack height (do you feel like you’re running on thick cushions or thin carpet?) 

Big changes in these features might increase your risk of injury. Make sure you compare these features between your current shoes and new shoes before you buy the new ones. If you are buying some new shoes just because your current ones are old, or you just want new shoes, then you want to keep these things the same. 

However, if you are injured or find your current shoes uncomfortable, it’s best to talk to a physiotherapist or podiatrist about which one of these features might need to change in your new shoes.

  1. Go for a lighter shoe but only if you don’t end up changing the features too much (see point 1).

Small performance improvements can be gained with lighter shoes (e.g. only 100g lighter) but this weight difference shouldn’t be prioritized above avoiding big changes in other features. You can’t run fast with light shoes if you’re injured.

  1. Check your comfort level and how your body feels in the shoe.

Don’t assume that you will find your new shoes comfortable just because your friend does. Everyone will respond differently to a pair of shoes. 

It can be tricky to test if your new shoes are really comfortable as it can only really be done after going for a short run in the shoes, which you can’t typically do when trying them on in the store (depending on the retailer you go to). Some retailers allow you to try running in the shoe on a treadmill to see how it feels but this might not be enough and the shoes will feel different on the ground compared to a treadmill anyway. 

Think about how comfortable the shoe feels on your feet. You want them to feel comfortable, or at least not uncomfortable. Are you injured? If so, do your symptoms improve in the new shoes? Does running feel easier or are you getting more out of your run in the new shoes? All of these things are important to consider when buying new shoes.

Watch Tom Goom, the Running Physio, explain these concepts further here.

Need some help achieving your running goals? Book a telehealth appointment with Performance Medicine’s exercise and run coach, Dr Brea Kunstler, to see how she can help you achieve your goals. She can provide a referral to a trusted shoe provider who will give you 10% off the RRP of your new shoes.