It may be the most important investment for a new runner; a pair of quality shoes. Shoes come in all shapes and sizes and not just any pair is suited for running. There’s a reason we have specialist running shoes and tennis shoes and training shoes. Running shoes are specifically designed with the activity in mind, and for beginners, it’s vital to pick the right pair. Unfortunately, the running shoe market is full of jargon such as arch height, pronation, minimalist shoes, motion control shoes which could scare off novices. We’re here to bust this jargon. Consider this your running shoe glossary

Arch height
This is simply the degree of your foot’s arch. Those with a flat arch have flat feet. Shoe manufacturers will try to sell you shoes based on your arch height, but this has been proved to have no difference in your running. It should certainly be considered in the comfort decision, but not base your purchase on arch height alone.

Pronation
Pronation is the inward movement of the foot as it rolls on impact as you run. In normal pronation, a foot “rolls” inward about fifteen percent, and can support your body weight without any problem. This is the key to proper shock absorption, and it helps you push off evenly from the front of the foot. Under pronation is when the outside of your feet is carrying most of the load, while over-pronation is when the inside of your foot lands and supports your body weight. One must understand the pronation degree is natural and it’s best to let your body run as it’s comfortable. While under- and over-pronation can be a problem in the long run, there’s no shoe that can fix it. Follow the golden rule: get the shoes that offer the best fit when you’re running.

Pronation and points of impact on the ground (Image: www.codybeals.com)
Pronation and points of impact on the ground (Image: www.codybeals.com)

Minimalist shoes

Low-profile, light-weight shoes are in and as such you will find a lot of minimalist pairs in the market. Yes, it’s a great feeling to run in a minimalist pair such as Vibram Five Fingers, but that should not be the goal of your running. You don’t need minimalist shoes to become a great runner, when in fact even the simplest pair of cushioned shoes will do.

Motion control shoes
Motion control shoes are heavy and have a durable exterior. They are mostly used to control extreme overpronation that could seriously injure the runner. So only go for these if you have been prescribed these by your podiatrist. They can be completely awkward for beginner runners.

The renowned Vibram Five Fingers minimalist running shoe
The renowned Vibram Five Fingers minimalist running shoe (Image: Vibram)

So what should you look at when buying shoes? Well, firstly run in the new pair, even if it’s just around the store, to see how comfortable you feel in them. Do your feet feel heavier than usual? And do you need a heavily-cushioned shoe for running in the park? Remember, cushioned shoes work best on hard surfaces such as paved roads or the treadmill.

You will find your fellow runners each have a different preference. Use your common sense when it comes to running shoes. As when it comes to running shoes, there’s no one size, shape, or indeed, type that fits all.

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