On Your Health

Check back to the INTEGRIS On Your Health blog for the latest health and wellness news for all Oklahomans.

How to Choose a Running Shoe

Have you been inspired by this year’s OKC Memorial Marathon? Perhaps you’ve decided to start your own running journey — congrats! Whether you’ve never run more than a mile in your life or haven’t hit the trail in a few years, investing in a pair of shoes dedicated to running is a wise idea.

It's best to leave those walking shoes and fashion sneakers in your gym bag: shoes not intended for serious running can cause pain and set your training quickly off course.

What makes a running shoe different?

A running shoe is designed specifically for running. Like basketball shoes and golf shoes, it’s meant to enhance your performance and provide extra support for your feet. When it comes to picking shoes, no design is the same.

Running shoes are usually designed to address a certain type of support. Some are created for flat feet or those who step heavier on their feet, while others consider how individuals roll their feet when running.

Picking a pair of running shoes

While it’s tempting to seek out a deal online, it’s best to fit your shoes in person, especially for those new to running.

Running specialty stores typically have the largest selection of running shoes. These stores carry shoes for both men and women and dozens of brands and styles. Staff are trained to fit running shoes specifically and can make unique recommendations based on the needs of each customer. They typically make a suggestion based on your foot shape, running gait and areas of the body where you’re prone to pain when running.

Try different brands

One brand doesn’t fit all runners. Popular brands among runners include New Balance, ASICS, Brooks, Nike and many more. While some runners may swear by a specific brand or style, it’s best to see which brand is best for your feet. Some brands are better for runners with wide feet, while others offer more arch support or cushion.

Josh Lacan manages Red Coyote, a running specialty store, in Oklahoma City. Lacan recommends trying a different brand every few years or so. “Sometimes brands change their designs every few years. Just because one brand didn’t work a few years ago, doesn’t mean it’s not worth trying again,” he says.

Know your needs

Are you prone to shin splints or need extra support for your arches? When trying on shoes, consider things like where you’ll be running and your current weight, foot width and arches.

If you’ll be training mostly indoors on a track or treadmill or mostly outdoor on hard pavement, mention it to the salesperson fitting your shoes. She may recommend a certain amount of cushion based on what type of surfaces you plan to run on.

person running on trail

Size up

Your shoes should be snug fitting, but if your toes feel too cramped, consider sizing up. Your feet will swell slightly when running or exercising. A shoe that is too tight can leave you with painful rubbing and blisters. You should be able to wiggle your index finger between your foot and the shoe without too much force.

To further avoid blistering and rubbing, make sure your socks are appropriate for running. Lacan recommends a synthetic material that will wick away sweat. Pick a sock that will stay up and provide extra support.

Replace worn out shoes

“Typically, you should replace your running shoes every 500 miles or so,” Lacan says. “Some runners who are covering a lot of miles may need a few pairs throughout the year, while others can get away with one pair a year.”

You may feel it in your body when it’s time for a new pair of shoes. If you begin to feel shin splints, pain in your feet or other parts of your body, it may be a sign that you need to switch to a new pair.

If you weren’t 100 percent sure you loved the pair of shoes you bought, try another brand and work with a fitter to look at your wear pattern (divots made in the sole of your shoe where your foot applied pressure). This may indicate where you need more support.

Keep training fun

Great fitting shoes will get your running journey started on the right foot, but attitude will help keep you going. Lacan recommends keeping your training fun and not comparing your progress to others.

“Running is a journey. Don’t compare yourself to someone who’s been running for years. It’s about pushing yourself to improve and see how far you can go,” he says.

Need help getting started? Check out our On Your Health 5k training guide!