Unless your doctor tells you to abstain from it, running is far and away the best exercise for weight loss. It’s easy to get into, it’s cheap, and it’s never more than a change of clothes away. It also burns more calories per minute than every other form of exercise, save for swimming, which is in the same ballpark (but which is rarely just a change of clothes away). Depending on your weight and the level of intensity with which you run, running burns at least 500 calories per hour; for heavier runners who push themselves, that amount can double.
We talk much more about running elsewhere, including in the book that shares this site’s name (which has a whole chapter called “How To Run“, designed to take you from couch potato to road warrior in less time than you might expect). In this post, we will examine what you need to get started; that is, a great pair of running shoes that are appropriate for you, based on your foot type.
In a future article, we will also examine some great options for running apparel, clothes, and other gear … including the best headphones for running (because you know you burn more calories when you can rock out while you work out!).
The Best Shoes for Running
When it comes to running or jogging (or, for that matter, walking), your shoes can make you or break you.
No, literally: they can break you.
All feet are not equal. Running shoes are not all the same. Your author, for example, went through a multi-year period where she thought, “I simply cannot run anymore! The pain! What happened to me?“
Nothing happened to her; she just bought the wrong running shoes.
Running shoes are made to accommodate three different types of feet: Neutral, Over-Pronator, and Under-Pronator (sometimes known as “Supinator”).
What do these names mean? They all describe your arch, your gait, and what your feet require of a running shoe.
If you are “flat-footed”, or you have a low (or non-existant) arch, you’re what’s called an Over-Pronator. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, it’s just the label given to how the bones and tendons of your feet interface with the surfaces you run on. Thing is, it also affects your running gait—and when you’re running, the effects add up. If you’re wearing the wrong shoes, you may experience shin splints, knee pain, and other painful forms of suckitude.
Get the right shoes, and this all goes away. Really. It’s like magic, except it’s science.
What are these magical shoes for over-pronators called? If you see something called a “support” shoe, it was made for people like you.
If you, on the other hand, have “high arches”, as your author does, your walking and running gait will have most of your weight rolling onto and off of the outsides of your feet. This is known as Under-Pronating or Supinating. In the wrong shoes, after running you may experience a sharp pain in your feet that seems to emanate from somewhere in the middle of your feet (technically, between your tarsals), so much that even walking is painful. If you have ever known what it’s like to run a block in “normal” shoes just to catch the bus, followed by a week or more of foot pain, you might want to look into this supination thing.
We supinators must seek out “cushion” shoes, rather than “support” shoes. I know, I know … “support” sounds more positive than “cushion”, but if you are a supinator and you buy a Support shoe…OMG look out. You are setting yourself up for a world of pain. Your author speaks from experience. Let her mistakes be your lessons. :-/
Finally, if you’re gifted with neither of these, you can almost buy whatever shoes you want…although it would be best if you sought a “Neutral” shoe. Yes, that’s the official industry term for a shoe that offers a sweet mix of cushioning and support.
The best running shoes for each type of foot
As stated above:
- Pronators: you want a “control” or “support” shoe.
- Neutrals: meh. Buy what you like, but steer away from major Control or Support shoes.
- Supinators: you must find yourself a “cushion” shoe.
Don’t know where to start? Here are the top 5 running shoes for each type of runner, based on the author’s experience and research. Accordingly, please note: although this post is written chiefly with women in mind, men, you, too, have the same kinds of feet—and the same shoes, with the same control or cushioning properties, are all available in men’s sizes and colors.
Control / Support Running Shoes for Pronators
ASICS Gel Fortify – Among the cutest control shoes and 20+ years’ experience of being The One to Beat
Brooks Ariel 14 – Second place for cute? And seriously well-designed and made.
New Balance 1340 – Never mind the generic name, this company likes to use vague numbers as names—and it makes kick-a$$ shoes.
Saucony Redeemer – The most supportive shoe the brand offers, and not a bad looker, either.
Reebok Premier Control III – For those on a budget, these offer all you need.
Neutral Running Shoes for Neutral Strides
Saucony Triumph ISO – Runner’s World Editor Choice!
Newton Gravity IV – It’s orange and pink, it’s highly-rated. Just splurge for once and feel great about your shoes.
Zoot Solana – Super affordable and highly – rated lightweight neutral
Asics Gel-Nimbus – Boasting almost 20 years of innovation and legendary runner satisfaction.
Brooks Launch 2 – Cute colors prevail again–and this shoe is also a “Best Buy” choice
Cushion Running Shoes for Supinators
Hoka Bondi One One – this shoe is taking the max-cushion market by storm! It’s so awesome, it doesn’t even point in the same direction as the rest.
New Balance Borocay – “Smooth consistent cushioning”
Mizuno Wave Rider 18 – Straddling the line between Cushion and Neutral shoe, this affordable and well-received option deserves your attention.
Brooks Glycerin 13 – Foot-conforming flexible and squishy shoe that might be just the ticket for supinators. Colors rock, too.
Adidas Pure Boost – This is the shoe that allowed your author to return to running after thinking her feet would never again permit her to. Lovely cushioning without being so padded that they’re clunky. Mid-range pricing further ices the cake.
These lists barely scratch the surface. There are well over a hundred models of running shoes you can purchase.
If that fact fails to comfort you, take courage, then: the above lists do offer you solid options that have been proven to deliver what they promise. There are no “duds” in their midst.
Next, all it will take is for you to determine your foot motion type, then find some shoes that make you feel amazing when you strap them on, and which inspire you to get out there and become the ligher, fitter, and happier version of you that you know you can be.
Happy trails! 🙂
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