Buying the right running shoes often turns out to be more complicated than you think. The range of shoes with different characteristics is immense. At the same time, choosing the right shoes is a key factor in improving performance and ensuring safety and comfort during training. In this article, we will look at the different models of running shoes available on the market and explain to what extent each model is suitable for a certain type of training/competition or terrain.
When choosing running shoes, the running style and intended purpose should be taken into account. Adapting the choice of shoes to the type of run can bring several advantages. Or, to exaggerate: if you play basketball, it is preferable to use a shoe appropriate to this sport, which offers more lateral stability than a running shoe. Similarly, running shoes can have different characteristics, particularly suited to specific types of training.
Guide to the different types of running shoes
Running shoes are usually characterised by a flexible sole and adequate cushioning to protect and support the foot from the repeated impact on the ground during running. In general, there are different types of running shoes designed according to the shape of the foot and its type of movement. Often, it refers to the level of pronation of the foot, which indicates how the foot moves during running.
These shoes are the most common among those intended for runners with neutral pronation (i.e. with an inward inclination of the foot of no more than 15%) and correct alignment of the ankles and legs. They are lightweight and have a soft midsole and increased cushioning in the heel, as weight is distributed evenly.
Stability shoes are the ideal choice for runners wishing to correct overpronation (inward inclination of the foot). These models are usually heavier, but offer excellent support for the glutes and hips. Unlike neutral shoes, stabilising shoes have support elements in the midsole that help keep the foot in a more neutral position and prevent excessive shin and heel rotation.
MOTION CONTROL SHOES
We can consider them as a natural development of stability shoes, as they are specially designed to provide additional support for runners who suffer from severe overpronation or have a high body weight. This type of shoe features a stiff heel and a broad-based sole to provide additional stability while running. In addition, they are equipped with arch reinforcements and a denser foam to ensure optimal comfort and prevent injuries.
Besides these types of traditional running shoes, there are additional features that are becoming increasingly popular:
These shoes are designed to provide extra cushioning while running. They are ideal for heavier people or those who suffer from frequent joint pain, as they reduce the impact on the feet and joints. At the same time, however, force transmission from the foot to the ground is weakened, making running a little less efficient.
MINIMALIST OR ‘BAREFOOT’ SHOES
Minimalist shoes have the tendency to have almost no cushioning. In this way, you have a greater awareness of the movement of your foot, strengthen your foot muscles and increase your balance. You have the impression of running barefoot, but with some foot protection.
These shoes have sophisticated technology that improves running efficiency by increasing energy return. In addition to the carbon plate, they are equipped with ultra-light reactive foam and offer great cushioning, making them particularly suitable for long-distance runs or runners looking to improve their time.
Running shoes suitable for your activity and running surface
Changing shoes regularly and being able to use different ones for different types of training has many advantages. Read our article to learn more about the benefits of owning several pairs of running shoes and the best time to replace them.
As described in the introduction, it is not only the quality of the shoe that influences the effectiveness of training, but also its characteristics. Therefore, we will now analyse in detail which type of shoe is suitable for the specific requirements of training form and surface.
Road running shoes are the most common type and are designed for use on surfaces such as roads, pavements or treadmills. They are made to absorb shock and protect joints while running on hard surfaces. If you are a casual runner, comfort should be the priority, and indeed these shoes are ideal for light-to-moderate aerobic pace activity.
Trail running shoes are designed to withstand and cope with rough terrain. In this case, the emphasis is on endurance and handling uneven surfaces. These shoes feature enhanced grip and traction for tackling muddy or snowy terrain, and a stiff midsole to provide good support when the foot moves from side to side. The sole has thicker lugs and sometimes plates to protect against pebbles or roots and provide more power on steep inclines. However, these shoes are less breathable and often have added waterproofing.
If your training plan involves fast workouts such as intervals or tempo runs, then you will need to choose lightweight, performance-oriented shoes. These shoes are designed for shorter efforts, as they wear out more quickly. They are characterised by high flexibility, allowing the foot to move quickly in the heel-to-toe transition.
Race shoes are designed to optimise performance and achieve high speeds over longer distances compared to interval training. They are made of less material, which results in greater sensitivity, lower weight and better energy transfer to the ground. However, these shoes last less than the others and it is best to use them mainly for competitions and not for daily training, due to the limited protective function for the foot.
If you are training for a marathon, choosing the right shoes is crucial. Shoes for long distances are designed to allow less wear and tear on the body. They are more cushioned and offer more support, but are also heavier. It is also important to consider the space for the toes to avoid the runner’s nail, but at the same time do not buy them too big to avoid blisters.
Make sure you use shoes that are suitable for your target race! However, avoid trying them on for the first time on race day. It is better to do a break-in of at least 50-100 km. Running shoes are designed for specific types of training and, if used correctly, you will get the most out of them. It is therefore advisable to alternate 2/3 pairs of shoes during the week to avoid excessive wear and tear on your favourite shoe and at the same time minimise the risk of injury.
Also, did you know that on running.COACH you can keep track of the kilometres run and the number of workouts completed in a given pair of running shoes by assigning them to each workout?
In order to choose the right running shoes for your needs, we suggest you go to a specialised running shop and ask an experienced salesperson for advice. You can learn more by reading our article on what to consider when buying running shoes.