If the shoe fits: How to know when it's time to get new runners

If you've been following this blog, you might recall that I've recently started running again after a few months' break.

Following an enthusiastic couple of weeks of training, the initial glow wore off and I found myself in a training slump. Faced with a growing sense of worry about an upcoming fun run I knew I had to pull out the big guns. It was time for a new pair of running shoes.

I don't usually get a kick out of material purchases, but running shoes are different. I get excited when new releases come out, and I'm like a kid in a lolly shop when I walk into a store with floor to ceiling shoes on display. I even get little giddy over lacing up a new pair of shoes for their maiden run.

So, if your resolution to run more in 2018 hit its peak a couple of weeks ago or like me, your enthusiasm for training has started to fade, then maybe it's time to invest in some new running shoes? After all, sometimes rewards are good bribery to keep us chipping away at our running goals.

And if that doesn't seal the deal for you then consider this – most runners replace their shoes too late. It's recommended that you get a new pair between 500km and 800km, but if you land hard on your heels then its even sooner.

But where do you start? There's a dazzling array of shoes available today, which can make choosing the perfect shoe a modern-day dilemma. Running shoes are very personal, and a shoe that works for one runner, may not feel good underfoot for another.

Research from the Human Performance Lab at the University of Calgary, suggests that your body knows best. Studies revealed that shoes chosen because they felt the most comfortable were also the most efficient and best at reducing injury.

So, what should you consider when on the hunt for a new pair of running kicks? Follow these handy tips to help you choose the right shoe for you.

Cushion

After years of super structured, bulky and dense running shoes, barefoot running grew in popularity and then faded away, giving rise to a new focus for runners and running shoe manufacturers alike – comfort.

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Since then, running shoe companies have focused their attention on the cushioning properties of their shoes and invested heavily in researching and developing the perfect composition of foam to offer more cushion from the impact of each stride, yet still be able withstand the wear and tear of running.

Today, all the big brands feature foam in their shoes, with Nike the latest to launch its version of proprietary foam – Nike React, which promises to be lightweight, durable, super soft and still deliver great energy return.

So, what does all this mean? In a nutshell, look for a shoe with has the right level of cushioning for you but that doesn't skimp on responsiveness.

Fit

Given our feet swell and lengthen when running, it's best to go up half a size from your regular shoes to allow for wiggle room in the toe area. You want to be able to move your toes around and up and down freely. Your heel should feel snug and secure to avoid any rubbing, slippage or blisters.

Your foot should be able to move side-to-side in the shoe's forefoot without crossing over the edge of the insole. If the shoe is too narrow, you'll feel the bottom of your little toe sitting on the edge of the shoe. Lastly, remember that any irritation you feel in the store will only get worse when you christen your shoes.

Comfort

Knowing how you run, whether you tend to pronate or what type of arch support you need will all help in choosing the right shoe, but ultimately you still need to get a shoe that's right for you. Be sure to road-test the shoe before you buy it – don't just try them on.

Instead, go for a quick jog around the shop or take a run on the store's treadmill to put them through their paces and to see if they feel right. When it comes to the shoe upper, it should feel snug around the top of the foot. If you feel pressure or tightness then you need more space. And remember that your shoes should work with your stride, not try to change it.

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