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Running Shoes 101

Finding the Correct Running Shoe

Linda Cherry, PsyD, BSEd, CPT

USATF Credentialed Coach

More than 55 million pairs of shoes are sold annually in the United States. There are dozens of brands and hundreds of models flood the athlete shoe market. How do you choose what you purchase? Do you go for a particular brand, style, colors... even going by “fit” is not a guarantee you are wearing the correct shoes.

Why does it matter? Wearing the “wrong” shoe can lead to significant injury, as well as missed opportunities for improvement and/or maximum race performance. The purpose of this handout is to education you on some key considerations when purchasing running shoes.

Shoe Wear

At the outset, I want to address the “life expectancy” of a running shoe used in training. Running shoes generally last 300-500 miles measuring by mileage worn. When considering time, about six to seven months of wearing a shoe outdoors, or a track season, suggests a good time for replacement. The key indicator for imminent replacement need includes wear patterns emerging on the bottom of the shoe and/or sudden unfamiliar pains during a regular training routine.

Key considerations for purchasing running shoes and why you should go to a running specialty store:

Training Attributes

1. Type of running: sprint, middle distance, long distance or trail.

2. Volume of running: weekly mileage

3. Typical running surface(s): tracks, paved surfaces, gravel, trails, etc.

Physical Attributes

1. Body type and size

2. Medical and injury history

3. Foot shape (i.e. high or low arch, width of foot)

Running Mechanics Attributes

1. Gait cycle (i.e. frequency of foot turnover and form)

2. Foot strike, how your foot contacts the ground (neutral, pronation, supination)

Final suggestions:

1. If you have an old pair, bring them so they can see the wear pattern.

2. Shop later in the day when your feet will have some degree of swelling, so shoes will fit more properly.


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