And the IDEAL ways to avoid them.

Many of us are looking for new, challenging ways to get active during the era of COVID-19. Hell, for some, it’s been the only reason to leave the house lately. Since gyms are shut, swimming pools closed and classes cancelled, being able to exercise outdoors, be it a power walk, a light jog or a swift run, has been a saving grace for the nation’s mental and physical health. Go on, breathe in that fresh, crisp air, and bring on the lactic burn. Feels good, don’t it?

Yep, across the country – scrap that, the world – a running craze has taken flight, with Brits dusting off their old trainers and taking to the concrete. The physical and mental health benefits are enormous. In fact, research suggests that running changes your brain and body, having the magical ability to reduce stress, improve heart health and alleviate depression.

If you’re a newcomer to the miracle of running and you don’t yet have any trainers to dust off, you might be wondering where to start when shopping for shoes. It’s definitely a decision which requires some research; plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendinitis, stress fractures, bunions, corns, hammertoes, and tendonitis…wear the wrong type of running shoe and one of these could happen to you. 

On the flip side, having the right running shoes on your feet keeps them healthy, shielding you from injuries associated with running, and giving you the impetus to push yourself harder. Having the right shoes means you can run efficiently and at peace, knowing you are giving your body the best care possible.

With that in mind, here are 7 common mistakes made when choosing running shoes, and the IDEAL ways to avoid them.

PLACING TOO MUCH EMPHASIS ON LOOKS

Looking fashionable while you run is all well and good – hey, you might even pick up a companion as you pound the pavement – but this shouldn’t be your priority. You’re more likely to look good by keeping up your running regime for a short while, spurred on by more comfortable shoes, after all. In fact, research has suggested that regular, devoted running can make you look 9 years younger. Wow!

Your running shoe is more like a tool that can influence your performance. Choose the right shoe, regardless of fashion, is the most surefire way to ensure you keep at it long enough to reap the benefits.

ASSUMING YOU KNOW YOUR SHOE SIZE

Shoe shapes and sizes which are supposed to be standardised can actually differ hugely across brands and countries. Nope, we’re not only talking about those knockoff Nikes you bought at Petticoat Lane Market. Even trusted brands like New Balance, Adidas and Hoka One One offer running shoes which may experience some size divergence.

Therefore, it’s good to try on a shoe in person before buying, to avoid getting the wrong size. That, or you could get yourself measured in-store, so you’re equipped with the precise measurements you’re working with going forward.

Alternatively, you could use this super useful footwear size conversion tool, which offers a size breakdown by brand. 

SHOPPING IN THE MORNING

Your feet swell as each day progresses, making them considerably larger in the evening than when you woke up. Interestingly, it’s been reported that they can grow by as much as half a shoe size over the course of a day! To avoid buying too small running shoes that will cause blisters, it is advisable to go shoe shopping in the afternoon.

TRYING ON SHOES WITHOUT RUNNING SOCKS

You weren’t planning on going running in bare feet or ultra thin socks, were you? Indeed, it matters greatly what type of running sock (yep, that’s another decision to be made) you prefer, and whether they’re thin or thick. Try on any running shoes you’re considering while wearing the same socks you use for running.

NOT THINKING ABOUT ROUTE

Is your running route through soft muddy trails? Then you’ll need a pair of trail shoes. These are the best shoes for running on uneven terrain as they have a deep tread, better grip and offer more ankle support.  If you want to improve them even more use some specialized shoe insoles.

If you’re running on pavements, however, then you should invest in road shoes. They have more cushioning than lightweight, trail running shoes, possessing better shock absorption which minimises the risk of injury. Should you envisage doing a bit of both, then invest in a pair of hybrid running shoes. 

NOT ASKING TO TEST THEM

Yes, you can test them. Perhaps not by leaving the store, running down the road and never returning, but most big sports shops do have in-store treadmills where you can give your potential purchase a trial run.

NOT KNOWING YOUR GAIT

Gait is a way of determining the best type of running shoe for you. There are different types of running gait or running pronation (basically your stance and posture as you run) and, in layman’s terms, there are three; normal, under pronation or supination, or overpronation. Identifying which category your gait falls into will help you choose the best shoe. 

Shape has written a useful guide on how to determine your running gait. Do check it out.