Does Running Shoes Matter? How To Pick One & Take Care of It!


Running is supposed to be one of the easiest sports to get into – after all, you only need exercise clothes and a pair of shoes. But walk into any running store or browse online and suddenly this simple activity seems very complicated.

How do you know which shoe to choose? And once you find them, how can you make them last?

Can You Run in Normal Trainers?

When you’re first starting out, the most important thing is to make running as accessible as possible. That could mean using the trainers you already have to get out on a short, easy run (or run-walk combination). The most important thing is to really dial in your running mechanics so that you start with good habits.

This will make the biggest impact for preventing injuries down the road.

Running in shoes you already own can also help you narrow down what you’d want in your new shoes once you’re ready to upgrade. If you find you need more arch support, for example, you can ask for that when you go in for a fitting.

Do Running Shoes Really Make a Difference? (Selection Criteria)

Yes, running shoes will make a noticeable difference in your running. Browsing running shoes online can be overwhelming, so it’s best if you can get into a specialty running store and try a bunch on. A lot of running stores will have special equipment to analyze your feet and running gait, though it may not always lead to a better-fitting shoe. That’s why they’ll often have you run on a treadmill right in the store to see how the shoes feel.

There are a lot of debates about types of shoes: minimalist, maximalist, barefoot, neutral, stable – the list goes on. It leads runners to feel like they’re constantly in search of that one “perfect” shoe when the reality is that it probably doesn’t exist (Source).

However, there are shoes that will work better for your feet and running style than other shoes will, it’s just that the labels may not matter as much. The most important thing to look for are the three C’s: comfort, cushion, and color.

Comfort

The most important part of finding the right running shoes is comfort. They should feel good on your feet and require minimal break-in time. If there are any weird pressure points or rubbing, try on a different pair.

Cushion

Many runners mistakenly believe that extra cushion means extra shock absorption, which may not actually be the case. While you’ll definitely want some level of cushion, getting the plushest shoes possible won’t make as big of a difference as good running mechanics will.

Color

It may not seem important, but the color of your shoes can make a difference. If you like the way you look, you’re more likely to want to wear them more often, which can ultimately lead to more time running (and isn’t that the goal?).

If you can find a pair of shoes that checks all three of these categories, then they may be the perfect shoe for you, even if it’s not what you expected to get.

Do You Really Need New Running Shoes? Signs You Do!

Let’s face it: running shoes aren’t cheap. Shelling out over $100 for a single pair of shoes can be painful, but sometimes it’s necessary. If you have put over 300 miles on your current pair of shoes, it may be time to replace them. Here are some signs to look out for (Source):

New aches or pains

If you’re experiencing pain that can’t be explained by a change in training, it’s likely the fault of your shoes. Cushion will wear out over time, which can lead to your body absorbing more of the force.

Sore feet

Notice your feet feeling extra sore after a run? This is a common sign that your shoes are worn out. The shape may have warped from use and no longer fit properly.

Worn out treads

If you notice a lack of traction on your shoes (especially if you run on trails), it’s probably time to swap them for a new pair. You should visually inspect your shoes after every few runs to see if the tread pattern has worn down.

New blisters

Getting blisters in places you usually don’t can be a sign that your shoes have changed shape, which means it’s time for them to go.

Is It Ok to Use Running Shoes for Walking?

Yes, it’s okay to use running shoes for walking. A lot of people find running shoes to be a great choice for long walks as they tend to have more cushion than other types of shoes (Source).

However, every mile in your shoes counts towards their overall wear, so they may burn out faster.

It can be better to have separate pairs of shoes for different activities so that you can make the most of their mileage. Running tends to put more wear and tear on the shoes, so you’re likely to get more miles out of a pair of walking shoes.

Should You Run in The Same Shoes Everyday?

Ideally, you should have two or more pairs of shoes to swap through if you’ll be running multiple days a week. This will allow you to put more miles in because each pair of shoes is only taking half (or less) of the overall mileage.

In addition, it can help to have different shoes for different running occasions. You may want a pair of shoes specifically for walks or very easy recovery runs. If you often run on a track, you can get track shoes with spikes. Want to run on trails instead of pavement?

one can get trail shoes that will have better traction than your standard running shoes – just be careful about running with them on pavement as the tread will wear down quicker.

Another benefit of having multiple pairs of shoes is giving them adequate time to air out in between runs. This can extend the life of the shoe because the glue won’t break down or erode as quickly. It can also be nice if you have to run through a rainstorm one day but want to take advantage of the perfect weather the next day.

For more on this, we recommend that you check out our post ” How Many Running Shoes You Should Have? Types & When To Replace Them!

How Long Should You Run with The Same Shoes? (How To Make It Last Longer!)

Running shoes will generally last 300 to 500 miles depending on how you use them and how often you run. Many activity trackers (like Strava) allow you to track the mileage of different gear, which can be a helpful way of keeping track. Otherwise, a simple exercise journal or spreadsheet will do the trick.

Want to get the most out of your running shoes? Here are some ways to make them last longer:

Take off your shoes the right way

You’ve just finished a long run and want to rip your shoes off and hop in the shower – but not so fast! Make sure you take the time to unlace them and pull them off using your hands. If you use one foot to press down on the heel of the other foot, you’ll damage the back of the shoe, causing it to wear out faster.

Rotate shoes

As mentioned above, it can be super helpful to rotate through different pairs of shoes to extend the life of all of them. Not only will your shoe have enough time to fully dry out between runs, but it can also give  the midsoles time to decompress (Source).

Focus on running

Use your running shoes for their intended purpose and invest in other shoes for different activities. While your running shoes are comfortable, they will get worn down much faster if you use them as your daily shoes.

Things to Keep in Mind

At the end of the day, the best running shoes are the ones that feel good for you. It may take some trial and error to figure out what feels right, which can be frustrating considering the cost. But once you find the shoes you love, it’ll be easy to stick with those (and you can watch for sales).

Aprill Emig

Based out of Duluth, MN Aprill loves to write about the outdoors, education, and all forms of adventure. You can find her mountain biking, running, or playing roller derby.

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