Your personal running coach

How to Choose your running shoes

What are the best running shoes? Which shoes should I get? Which shoes would you recommend?  This is something that as a running coach I get asked often, so I thought I’d give you a wonderfully simple guide.

First, you need to answer these questions.

Are you a beginner?

What distances are you planning to run?

If you’re not planning on running particularly far, whether a beginner or not, there isn’t a need to spend a huge amount of money on running shoes – find a pair you find comfortable, and is a little bit larger – perhaps half a size to a size bigger than your usual shoes.

If you’re overweight, you may want to invest a bit more in shoes that have a bit more cushioning to protect your joints and they may last a bit longer.

If you’re planning on running longer than an hour at a time – for most people this is when they decide to train for half marathon or marathon distance, then you will want to make sure that your shoes are appropriate to your running style.

To do that, you’ll want to get a gait analysis, and most running shoe specialist shops offer this service, however, I think it’s really important to go in with some prior knowledge.  This is what I recommend to my customers.

Step 1 – the wet foot test.

Get your feet wet, so after having a bath or a shower, then step onto a flat towel with each foot.  The pattern your foot leaves will give an indication of your foot biomechanics, and which type of running shoe you should go for.

From left to right, the images show a normal arch, a low arch and a high arch, and these suggest the following needs from your running shoes:

Low arch – Stability

Normal arch – Neutral

High arch – Cushioning

Step 2 – research online

Each season, Runner’s World does an analysis of all the new running shoes – it plots them on a graph according to stability and cushioning – you can use this to pick out 3-4 shoes that would be worth you trying.

Step 3 – gait analysis

Go to the running shop for gait analysis, and try on their recommendations, but also ask to try the shoes you selected in step 2 – If they don’t have any of those in step 2, then keep shopping – try to find another shop that does carry them

Step 4 – Choose the most comfortable shoe.

Ultimately all the science helps to guide you, but you’ve got to run in them.  Assuming they fit correctly, the best shoe to choose is the one that feels best for you.

Know anyone new to running or looking to increase their distances for the first time? Why not share this blog with them so they have some help in choosing their shoes.

A note:

For a runner, your shoes are your most important piece of equipment, and they wear out over time. You will need to replace them regularly, as you would your car tyres.  If you’re thinking about barefoot style shoes and planning to run longer distances, I personally would advise you not to, but if it’s something you want to pursue, see it as learning to run all over again.  Your feet and calves will have to do a lot more work, and your joints will have to withstand a lot of impact, and many of the surfaces we run on aren’t designed with runners in mind, but cars – that shock going up through your ankles and knees can be quite a lot, which is why I would always recommend cushioned running shoes.



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Angela Isherwood

Angela Isherwood is the founder of I Run Success
She is a REPs Level 3 Personal Trainer, a Run England Running coach, and a multiple marathon runner. She is a London Marathon Good for Age runner, a Boston Marathon Qualifier, a parkrun Run Director and Trainer for Goodgym Colchester.

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