The moment you walk into a shop (or open the webpage of an online shop) where running shoes are sold, you are faced with a huge choice.
How to choose the right shoe?
For a moment you might be drawn to the ability to choose your new running shoe based on the color. We are here to stop you from making serious mistakes like this. Aesthetic taste is certainly not to be discarded a priori, but it is the last criterion by which to make an informed purchase.
While the styles may all look similar to you, we can assure you that running shoes couldn't be more different from each other. The wide range of shoes on the market today greatly complicates the choice and it is for this reason that you must be prepared before making your purchase.
If you go to a traditional store, you could ask a seller for advice (as long as he is an expert on the subject). But what if you have to buy your new pair of shoes online?
Don't worry, we are here for this, to prevent you from making avoidable oversights, and put you in a position to buy exactly the shoes that are right for you.
It doesn't matter if you want to start running for fun or if you want to train hard. Running is a full-fledged sport and you need to have the right tools.
There are many considerations to make when choosing a shoe, such as:
- The ground on which you will run;
- The distance you want to tackle;
- If you have particular gait problems;
- If you want more or less cushioning.
Plus, you need to make sure the shoes fit you perfectly right from the start. That's why we will explain how to choose running shoes and find the perfect model for you.
Where do you plan to run
The first question you need to ask yourself when you are about to buy a new pair of running shoes is: where do I want to run?
Many immediately jump into the purchase thinking that they will only worry about where they want to try them at a later time.
Buying the wrong shoes not only makes you lose money (remember that in a wrong purchase, money is never an investment but a loss) but also puts you in serious physical danger, which can be caused by twisted, wrong movements, and much more.
So, the first step is to think about where you want to run. We are sure that you already have a general idea, you know if you prefer the streets of your city, or if you live near a forest and want to run in nature, or if you only have time to go to the gym.
For each of these terrains, there is the right model and now we will see how to choose a running shoe based on your needs.
One of the most popular uses of running shoes is on the road. In today's society, it is increasingly easier to see fans and sportsmen running through the streets of their city, not having green spaces in the immediate surroundings.
The best running shoes for asphalt are designed for terrain with few or slight irregularities. The asphalt is assumed to be smooth, with no particular obstacles to overcome or a rough surface. It's one of the safest ways to run, especially if you're just starting now.
However, it is also a particularly hard and flat terrain, for this reason, the shoes must be designed in such a way as to be able to cushion the impact without straining the body too much.
So let's see the main features of the asphalt shoe:
- The sole is smoother to adhere to a flat and uniform surface;
- The structure is light and flexible to cushion the impact of the foot on the hard surface;
- They are mainly designed for those who run on tracks, along roads, or on sidewalks.
As you can see, running shoes are starting to look not all the same. But let's go on with the differences based on the terrain.
Do you live near a forest? Do you like to take some free time on the weekend to go to the mountains?
You are a lucky person, not everyone has the opportunity to run in nature. The green, the oxygenated air, the sounds of animals and plants will provide additional benefits to your body and mind compared to those strictly related to physical exercise.
But here is a new problem. The ground is no longer smooth and uniform as in the case of asphalt. You are about to embark on a path full of obstacles such as loose ground, mud, tree roots that emerge from the subsoil, rocks of different sizes, differences in height, etc.
What is the best model for off-road? They are called trail-running shoes, specially designed to offer you a greater grip on the ground, stability, and protection.
Here are the main features of the best running shoes for mixed ground:
- The sole has solid and deep studs that will allow you a better grip on the ground and greater support when running;
- They are more structured and stiffer than asphalt shoes to give you more support on rough ground;
- Reinforced plates are often inserted to protect the foot from sharp objects such as rocks or fallen branches.
Now we are sure that you will begin to notice the first significant differences between those models that at first seemed different only in design and color.
Finally, there are running shoes specially designed for the gym. It is an even more controlled terrain than asphalt, less hard, and where you will not find the slightest obstacle to your physical activity.
However, although the absence of roughness may seem like a plus, you must consider that you find yourself running on a particularly smooth surface, such as linoleum, which can deceive you and lead you to slip.
The gym models are known as cross-training shoes and have key features to allow you greater grip on the ground.
Let's find out the characteristics of running shoes for the gym:
- They cushion the impact of the heel, unlike normal sneakers used in the gym;
- They favor transpiration in an environment that generally has high temperatures;
- They have a neutral base that does not cause tilting, with one-way grooves that proceed according to the forward direction.
We remind you that the running shoe just described does not ensure the same performance in any other activity you want to do in the gym. For training of different types, special shoes with different characteristics are provided.
The importance of cushioning
When we talk about cushioning we are referring to a particular sensation you experience while running. Running with some models may make you feel almost "bouncing" on the sole, while with others you have the sensation of feeling the ground under your feet as if you were barefoot.
This difference depends on the cushioning of your running shoe, its ability to absorb the force of the impact between the foot and the ground.
This effect is caused by the deceleration that the body undergoes when it meets the ground, discharging a vibration that is perceived throughout the body. Hence the feeling we just talked about. In some cases, feeling the ground under your feet can be a positive factor, but in other cases (such as off-road running) it represents real discomfort.
The ability to absorb impact depends on the manufacture of the shoe. The cushioning is controlled by the midsole, the material that is located between the upper (the upper part of the shoe that wraps the foot) and the tread (what is commonly referred to as the sole and touches the ground). The consistency of the midsole made often with foam materials is responsible for the more or less strong impact. In some models, to improve absorption and increase cushioning, pressurized gas bubbles are introduced into the midsole, under the heel.
Furthermore, the cushioning can be distributed differently:
- On the heel: suitable for a run in which the heel strikes first;
- On the heel and the toes: you can recognize shoes of this type by the linear profile of the midsole.
If the cushioning is distributed both on the heel and the toes, remember that the back of your foot will be subject to greater stress than a reinforcement only on the heel.
How to choose a more or less cushioned model
To know how to choose a running shoe based on cushioning, you need to think about what terrain you want to tackle and what your tastes are. In some cases, more cushioning is necessary, while in others it depends only and exclusively on the feeling you want to experience.
Let's see the models on the market divided by cushioning:
- Maximum cushioning (A3-A5): the midsole of this model has thick padding that gives a very high feeling of softness. It is a particular sensation that not everyone loves, but appreciated by those who run on rough ground, for long distances or even by those who face marathons of days;
- Medium cushioning (A2-A4): this is a shoe appreciated by many because it represents the middle ground between excessive and minimal cushioning, thus offering good comfort thanks to the thin but soft cushion;
- Minimum cushioning (A1-A6): the super light shoes provide the sensation of speed and grip are suitable for those who want to run very fast and want to feel the contact with the ground;
- Running "barefoot" (A0): finally, there is a type of shoe recognizable by the fact that it has separate toes and which has been designed to reproduce running barefoot. It is a model suitable for a quick and not very fast exercise, it is absolutely not recommended for running long distances or outside the gym.
The numbers marked on the side of each type refer to the categories into which the running shoes are divided and which you may happen to read during the purchase. The ranking was drawn up based on the factors that affect running, therefore the cushioning but also the ground, the type of training, the duration, and much more. At the end of the guide, when you have the complete picture, you will find the ranking with all the specifications.
Choose the right shoes according to your pronation level
Now we are about to reveal to you something that many novice runners do not know but which is essential to find the right shoe for you: we do not run all the same way.
You have probably never paid attention to this detail except for a more accentuated wear on the inside or outside of a shoe you have been using for a long time. This depends on how your foot moves.
We speak of pronation, and it is the angle between your tibia and your heel. When the rotation occurs inwards, we speak of pronation. On the contrary, if the rotation takes place towards the outside, we are talking about supination.
Pronation is a crucial factor to consider when choosing a running shoe. Who has a neutral walk has correct and perpendicular to the ground support. Otherwise, those suffering from pronation or excess pronation have support leaning towards the inside of the foot. As a result of pronation, the foot does not immediately restart with the thrust phase after impact with the ground but continues to rotate causing tension in the leg that starts from the foot and spreads to the knee, also causing severe pain.
It is therefore clear that runners characterized by pronation need a shoe that facilitates running and physical training, rather than one that represents a danger.
The right model for every pronation level
The manufacture of running shoes considers this dynamic to strengthen the runner's gait and ensure that running does not lead to other joint problems.
How to choose a running shoe based on pronation? Let's find out together:
- Mild pronation: for those suffering from slight pronation or supination, neutral shoes (A3) are more suitable, which have good impact cushioning but do not have particular functions for controlling movement;
- Average pronation: when pronation begins to become more pronounced, it is better to use a model capable of controlling movement; the type of suitable shoe is not too rigid and has internal rails that channel the foot to allow it to perform the right rotation without excessive effort;
- Excessive pronation or overpronation: in this case, shoes that provide less cushioning and more accentuated movement control are recommended, through rigid systems in the heels and the arch of the midsole; it is not a common model, it is rather specific for an accentuated problem, they are distinguishable by the shapes much straighter than neutral shoes.
As you can see, this is an aspect that should not be underestimated at the time of purchase because it guarantees the well-being of the entire lower part of your body.
How to find out if you suffer from pronation or supination
An expert would certainly be able to tell you the severity or not of the movement you perform when running. However, there are home methods to quickly find it out.
There are two tests: film yourself while running or check the sole of your shoes.
If you don't want to book a professional examination, you can ask a friend to film you running on a treadmill and then watch the video in slow motion.
The second test is to check the soles of your old shoes. You suffer from pronation (or supination) if you notice the following characteristics:
- Basic pronation: shoes are worn on the top of the soles and in a small external portion of the heels; in this case, neutral shoes are indicated;
- Excessive pronation: wear will be concentrated on the inner edge of the shoe both at the height of the sole and on the heels; it is the case of choose shoes that control movement;
- Supination: the rotation you perform is excessively turned outwards, so you will find more wear on the outer sides of the shoe; in this case, a neutral shoe is the best solution.
You now have the elements to better understand your gait and take one more step towards the best shoes for you.
The anatomy of the running shoe is an important detail
If you want to know how to choose a running shoe, you need to know all its components because each plays a specific role:
- Upper: the upper part of the shoe, the one that embraces the foot; generally it is made of fabric with several pieces joined together or a single one (as happens in many modern shoes);
- Collar: the soft part that embraces the ankle and allows the heel to remain in a correct position during physical activity;
- Heel shell: a reinforcement placed at the height of the tendon, optimizes the stability and centering of the heel;
- Arch with laces: the reinforced upper part where the laces are placed must adapt well to the instep (thanks also to the help of the laces themselves) to prevent the foot from sliding inside the shoe during use;
- Toe box: space where the fingers are located, often reinforced on the outside and on the sides to protect the fingers from shocks during the race; in some shoes, this part is very wide to prevent the fingers from rubbing together causing discomfort or calluses;
- Toe cap: an additional reinforcement is often applied at the toe to further protect the toes;
- Midsole: part of the shoe that finds you between the upper and the actual sole, which can be more or less thick depending on how much you want to cushion the shoe;
- Sole or tread: the lower part that meets the ground can be more or less smooth depending on the surface for which the shoe was designed; some soles are folded at the tip to favor the gait;
- Drop in the heel: the difference in height between the heel and the forefoot, which affects the distribution of forces during the run.
Some mistakes you should not make when choosing running shoes
All the advice we are giving you throughout this guide is designed to prevent you from making the trivial mistakes that most inexperienced runners fall into. Which you won't be when you make your next purchase.
For safety, let's see together what are the mistakes you should never make:
- Let yourself be attracted by the appearance: as we said at the beginning, the shoe models are many, with bright colors and aerodynamic shapes and many inexperienced runners are misled by their favorite color or by the model with the most striking support elements; wanting to be fashionable or wanting a Made in Italy product is a source of pride, but this must not affect the safety of physical activity;
- Based on the size of another model: we all know roughly what our shoe size is, however, each house has its numbering, especially if we relate an Italian company to, for example, an American one; to be sure not to get the wrong size, especially during an online purchase, it is best to measure the foot and use the size chart provided by the company itself;
- Buying shoes that are too small: always remaining on the subject of sizes, many people think that tight-fitting shoes are less bulky and make running easier; in reality, the fingers must always be able to move inside the toe box to avoid problems with the nails and feet in general;
- Buy shoes in the morning: after the night spent in a horizontal position, your feet are particularly deflated, and immediately trying on a pair of shoes could lead you to choose a narrower model; the right time to try on shoes is in the late afternoon when your feet are swollen (also because many people run right after work in the evening).
The best running shoes from ACBC
Now you know all the important information to be able to consciously choose your new pair of running shoes. We at ACBC have created a series of models, divided between those for men and those for women, designed to give the best comfort and performance to our customers.
We believe in sport and we also believe in the well-being of the planet, which is why we produce vegan shoes created with eco-sustainable or recycled materials. The models are designed for fashionable runners who love Made in Italy and who want to buy a product that is both beautiful to look at and performing during use.
Before leaving you to your next purchase, we provide you with the ranking of the most popular running shoes until a few years ago. The new technologies with which sports products are created have produced increasingly optimized models that division of models became obsolete.
However, it may be useful to know it to ask the company for additional information or to find a new pair of shoes based on one purchased in the past.
Running shoes are divided into:
- Minimalist (A0): ergonomic shoes that adapt perfectly to the foot, used for short and specific exercises, transmit the sensation of walking "barefoot";
- Superlight (A1): very light footwear with reduced cushioning, suitable for smooth surfaces and a fast run;
- Intermediate (A2): light shoes that have greater cushioning; recommended for those who are already familiar with running and want greater stability, as well as for those with pronation problems;
- Neutral (A3): the most amortized ever, suitable for beginners or for those who practice a slow run;
- Stable (A4): fairly structured and amortized, recommended for those who have to face long workouts and for those who need to correct excessive pronation;
- Trail running (A5): solid shoes that weigh as A3 but which at the same time allow a fast run, suitable for running on rough paths thanks to the tread with pronounced studs;
- Jogging (A6): poorly cushioned and without particular stability, they are recommended for those who run occasionally on uneven terrain.
Now you can say you know how to choose a running shoe.