Image by: Hans
By Robert Spencer
First, let’s go over what to look for in a good athletic shoe and then we can look at various brands that are out on the market right now.
#1) Basic Shoe Knowledge
The typical lifespan of an athletic shoe is 6 months or 3 to 4 months for regular runners. They should last somewhere between 400 to 500 miles. The more often you use it, the shorter the lifespan will be. In order to get the right kind of athletic shoe for those 6 months, you have to ask yourself certain questions:
What terrain will you be running on?
What kind of feet do you have?
What kind of running are you going to do?
How much running will you do?
If you’re running, there are different types of running shoes depending on where you are running and how you run: road shoes, trail shoes, cushioning shoes, stability shoes, and motion control shoes. Let’s quickly go over the basics for each of these types.
Road running shoes are different than trail running shoes. Road running shoes are more like regular tennis shoes. They help cushion your feet when you run on hard asphalt.
Trail running shoes are built the same except they have more aggressive tread in order to grip the dirt instead of pavement.
Cushioning shoes help with shock absorption and a little bit of arch side support. If you are a mild pronator (if your foot rolls inward when you step down) or a mild supinator (if it rolls slightly outward when you step down), this is the type of shoe for you.
Stability shoes are specifically for people who have mild pronation. These shoes often have a small “post” on the inside part of the shoe to help correct your foot when it wants to roll inward.
Motion control shoes have stiffer heels and are designed for people who have really bad cases of over-pronation. Over-pronation is important to correct because it can cause knee injuries while you are running.
There are three different soles to a running shoe: outsole, midsole, and insole. Outsoles are the rubber outsides that touch the road/asphalt. The insoles are what touch your foot. The midsoles aren’t normally seen (unless you really need to buy new shoes).
Midsoles can be made out of a soft EVA foam, which are more forgiving and will take the impact of running. However, since EVA is softer, it will wear out fast. Midsoles can also be made out of polyurethane (PU), which is stiffer but will hold up for a longer period of time.
When you’re trying on shoes look for these factors:
…aim for a thumbnail’s length of space between your toes and front of the shoe (toe room)
…do you feel your heel slip? (Kick your foot back and tie the laces tighter to lock your heel in place.)
…do you have room to wiggle your toes? (Not enough to curl your toes.)
…does it feel good? (Walk and jog around the shoe department to test it out.)
…does the arch feel like it’s in the right place?
Let’s get into specific shoe brands…
ASICS deals specifically with athletic shoes. Their name comes from the Latin phrase, “Anima Sana In Corpore Sano”, which means “a sound mind in a sound body.” This encompasses their philosophy. They developed the GEL-Kayano 19 which is great for beginner runners to expert runners and athletes. Check out the specifics for this shoe here.
Image by: Brooks
Brooks Sports Inc. specifically makes running shoes and since they specialize in them, they have the most variety. “The perfect ride for every stride” is what they claim and if you go to their site, you can see exactly what they’re talking about.
While you’re there, check out their latest shoe, the PureFlow 3 which was names “Best Update” in Runner’s World Magazine’s March 2014 issue.
Salomon does a little bit of everything: skiing, racing, snowboarding, but they also have a research and development team dedicated to runners. Salomon running shoes may be a little pricey but they are lightweight shoes that feature a fantastic grip for both trails and asphalt.
#5) New Balance
Image by: New Balance
New Balance Athletic Shoe Inc. is based out of the Brighton neighborhood out of Boston, Massacheusettes (home of the Boston Marathon). New Balance has everything from golf shoes to running shoes.
New Balance has a great reputation for making great, US-made athletic shoes that aren’t as expensive as most athletic shoes. Not only that, but they also give you the option of creating your own custom shoes. Not only do you get to customize the color, but you can also add your own embroidery message on the backs.
While finding shoes online may help open up your options, it is not advisable if you’re looking to find a descent running and/or athletic shoe. I suggest going to a sports apparel store and checking out their shoe department. Test them out for yourself. Really get the feel for the shoe and ask yourself those pertinent questions. If they don’t have the colors or style that you want, check out the computer in the store to order the exact type in the color scheme that you want.