15 Mistakes Buying New Running Shoes

Running can be a fantastic way to maintain fitness, engage in competition, or simply enjoy the great outdoors.

One of the most critical aspects of a great running experience, however, is the shoes. Unfortunately, many runners—both beginners and seasoned vets—often stumble when it comes to buying the right running shoes.

So, let’s lay out the roadmap for your next shoe shopping expedition by highlighting 15 common mistakes and how to dodge them.

The Importance of Correct Footwear for Running

Proper footwear doesn’t just look good and feel comfortable; it can significantly impact your running performance and injury prevention.

Different running styles and foot types call for different types of shoes. So, your friend’s fancy sneakers might not be the best fit for you, and that’s perfectly okay!

15 Mistakes to Avoid When Buying New Running Shoes

When setting out to buy new running shoes, it’s essential to avoid common pitfalls that could hinder your performance and potentially lead to injury. Here, we’ve outlined 15 mistakes to steer clear of during your purchase to ensure you choose the footwear that best suits your individual needs, biomechanics, and running goals. By keeping these in mind, you can ensure a comfortable and productive running experience, every time.

Mistake #1: Not Considering Your Unique Foot Structure

Your feet are as unique as your fingerprints. Broadly, they fall into three categories:

  1. Neutral: A normal arch and foot that lands on the outside of the foot and rolls inward.
  2. Flat: Low or no arches leading to full foot contact with the ground.
  3. High-arched: High arches resulting in reduced ground contact.

A simple way to determine your foot type is the “wet foot test.” Step on a piece of dark paper with a wet foot, and the footprint will indicate your foot type.

The Impact of Foot Type on Shoe Selection

Choosing the right shoes based on your foot type can provide the correct support and cushioning, reducing potential injuries. Here’s a quick guide:

  1. Neutral runners: Look for shoes offering good cushioning and support.
  2. Flat feet: Shoes with a firm midsole and arch support can help.
  3. High arches: Shoes with ample cushioning are ideal.

Mistake #2: Ignoring Your Running Style

Running gait refers to how you run, and pronation is part of this. Pronation describes how your foot rolls inward as you run. We have three types:

  1. Overpronation: Foot rolls excessively inward.
  2. Underpronation: Foot rolls outward, causing the outer part to take most of the shock.
  3. Neutral: Foot rolls in a balanced manner.

Understanding your pronation type can help you choose shoes that provide the right balance and support.

Shoes Designed for Different Pronation Types

Shoes are designed to accommodate different pronation types. Remember:

  1. Overpronators need shoes with additional support and stability.
  2. Underpronators should look for cushioned shoes that help with shock absorption.
  3. Neutral pronators can choose from a variety of shoe styles.

Mistake #3: Buying for Looks Over Function

Falling for the good looks and snazzy colors of a running shoe without considering its functionality for your unique needs can be a pitfall. Always prioritize the fit, comfort, and suitability for your running style over aesthetic appeal.

Mistake #4: Not Trying Before Buying

Always try before you buy! Just because a shoe looks comfortable doesn’t mean it will feel comfortable. Your foot’s interaction with the shoe is unique, so give it a test run in the store before committing to the purchase.

Mistake #5: Forgetting About Comfort

Comfort isn’t a luxury in running shoes—it’s a necessity. Uncomfortable shoes can lead to a multitude of problems from blisters to more serious injuries.

Features That Enhance Comfort

Features enhancing comfort in running shoes include:

  1. Good cushioning for shock absorption.
  2. Breathability to prevent sweating and blisters.
  3. Snug but not tight fit to avoid unnecessary friction.

Comfort is not a feature you want to compromise on, no matter how good the shoes look or how well they are marketed.

Mistake #6: Not Considering Your Typical Running Terrain

The terrain you frequently run on should play a pivotal role in your shoe selection. Road shoes differ greatly from trail shoes in terms of grip, cushioning, and durability.

  1. Road Running: If your typical run is on roads or treadmills, look for a shoe that offers comfort, cushioning, and support.
  2. Trail Running: If you’re hitting the trails, shoes with superior grip, protection, and durability are your best bet.

Mistake #7: Not Taking Your Weight into Account

Your body weight directly influences the stress on your shoes, and thus, the level of cushioning you need. Heavier runners may require shoes with more cushioning and support, while lighter runners may be able to run comfortably in lighter, less-cushioned shoes.

Mistake #8: Overlooking Shoe Width

Shoe size isn’t just about length; it’s also about width. People with wider or narrower feet need to consider this when selecting running shoes. If your shoes are too tight or too loose, it could lead to discomfort and potential injuries.

Mistake #9: Buying the Same Size as Your Casual Shoes

Running shoe size may differ from your regular shoe size. Running, particularly over long distances, can cause your feet to swell, and you may need to buy a running shoe that’s a half or full size larger than your regular size to accommodate this. Always try running shoes on before buying and ensure there’s enough space (about a thumb’s width) in the toe box.

Mistake #10: Ignoring the Importance of Heel-to-Toe Drop

Heel-to-toe drop, or offset, refers to the height difference between the heel and the forefoot. Shoes with high drops (10-12mm) can be beneficial for runners who strike with their heel first, while low-drop shoes (0-6mm) could be a better choice for midfoot or forefoot strikers.

Mistake #11: Forgetting to Account for Foot Swelling

Feet tend to swell during a run, especially long ones. If you fail to account for this when buying new running shoes, you might find your shoes becoming uncomfortably tight during runs. Try to shop for shoes later in the day when your feet are likely at their largest to avoid this issue.

Mistake #12: Buying Shoes That Don’t Suit Your Specific Running Goals

Are you training for a marathon or simply going for leisurely runs? Different goals require different types of shoes. Long-distance runners may prefer lightweight, cushioned shoes for comfort over many miles, while sprinters might opt for a lightweight, less cushioned shoe for speed.

Mistake #13: Not Replacing Shoes Regularly

Every pair of running shoes has a lifespan, often around 300-500 miles. After this, the support and cushioning can start to degrade, increasing your risk of injury. Keep track of your mileage and replace your shoes when necessary.

Mistake #14: Buying Without Considering Past Injuries

Past injuries should be a major factor in your running shoe selection. If you have a history of shin splints, for example, you might need shoes with better cushioning. Always consider past injuries and consult with a professional if needed.

Mistake #15: Over- or Under-Spending

While you don’t need to break the bank for running shoes, it’s also not the place to skimp. Balance cost with quality—investing in a higher quality pair can often save you money in the long run by avoiding potential injuries and having a longer lifespan.

Conclusion Thought

When it comes to purchasing running shoes, making an informed decision can greatly enhance your running experience and prevent potential injuries. Keep in mind these 15 common mistakes—from neglecting to consider your unique foot structure and running style, to overlooking shoe width and ignoring foot swelling.

Choosing the right shoe involves more than just aesthetic appeal and cost—it’s about selecting the footwear that best aligns with your individual needs, running goals, and biomechanics. So the next time you’re in the market for new running shoes, remember these pitfalls and navigate your way to the pair that will best support your running journey.

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