People are different. And so are their feet. It might surprise you to know that even your left foot is probably slightly different from your right. So you can understand why it’s so hard to find that perfect running shoe for both your feet. As far as running is concerned, all sorts of things come up for consideration: your biomechanics, body weight, the surface you run on and the shape of your feet.
There are three important categories to consider before buying a running shoe.
Weight: Lighter shoes have less cushioning, making them feel faster. But if you’re a long distance runner, you might prefer the extra cushioning a heavier shoe offers.
Drop: This is a measure of how much your toes drop below your heel. A higher drop means more heel striking. Most shoes have a drop between 8 and 12 millimetres, some have less than 6 mm and a few have zero drop.
Cushioning: Cushioning plays an important role in impact absorption. Check out the cushioning measurements in the heel and forefoot of the shoe you’re considering to see if it’s right for you.
Keep in mind the type of running you do. Is it the long-distance kind? Or do you prefer short bursts of speed? Is the terrain hard or soft?
What exactly is your running style?
Surprisingly, the wear pattern on the soles of your shoes can help you find the answer to this.
Pronation: The wear pattern is centralized to the ball of the foot and a small portion of the heel. It shows the foot’s natural inward roll preceding the heel striking the ground.
Overpronation: This is identified by wear patterns along the inside edge of your shoe. It affects many runners, often causing knee pain and injury. If you have overpronation, you will need to consider stability or motion control shoes.
Supination (or underpronation): Distinguished by excessive wear along the outer edge of the shoe, caused by the outward rolling of the foot resulting in uneven impact reduction at landing. Those who have this condition will need shoes with plenty of cushioning and flexibility.
Types of running shoes for different styles
Best for neutral runners or people who supinate (the tendency to roll outward). Neutral shoes offer some shock absorption and medial (arch-side) support.
We love the Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 35. It offers outstanding value for money, is 30g lighter than previous versions, has bouncier cushioning with a full-length air unit and bootie construction with a raised heel section for a locked-in fit.
The New Balance 890v6 is an outstanding lightweight do-everything shoe. It has the right amount of cushioning and protection for most runners to use everyday. It offers the perfect blend of breathable and pliable upper material, has lightweight and responsive midsole foams and a simple yet effective fit and construction.
The Saucony Ride ISO combines comfort with innovative design for improved fit, comfort and running efficiency.
Ideal for runners with mild to moderate overpronation. These shoes usually include a firm “post” to reinforce the arch side of each midsole, the area affected by overpronation.
The Hoka ONE ONE Gaviota is our favourite. It provides an incredible amount of support, amazing cushioning and a low drop that makes it very streamlined. It weighs less than its competitors as well.
Motion control shoes
Great for runners with moderate to severe overpronation, offering features such as stiffer heels or a design built on straighter lasts to negate overpronation. These shoes are also a must for people with flat feet. The Mizuno Wave Inspire 14 is a particularly good option for the flat-footed. It’s a very comfortable shoe, nicely cushioned and very responsive because of its wave plate. It feels a lot lighter than it is as well.