If you’re looking to start running regularly, it’s important that you find the right shoe.  The search for the correct footwear may well take you online to surf through various reviews.  Now, that may or may not be a good place to start, depending on whether you have some idea of what you are searching for.

Various factors determine the type of shoe you need and, to help you, we’ve highlighted the key ones below.

The running surface

What kind of surface will you be doing most of your running on (eg, roads, tracks or forest trails)?  Your regular running route is going to have a significant impact on your choice, as different types of surface will require different types of shoe.

Your running action

The principal factor to consider here is what happens to your feet and ankles after they hit the ground. If they roll inwards slightly (ie around 15%), this is quite normal and is called pronation.  If this motion is excessive (ie over 15%), it is known as overpronation. Normal pronation is a key aspect of proper shock absorption, but overpronation can carry a risk of injury.

Overpronation need not be a problem, however, as the action can easily be controlled by the selection of a suitable motion control running shoe. Normal pronators are best suited to stability shoes offering moderate pronation control.

With some runners, the inward rolling movement of the foot is negligible (ie less than 15%), which means the majority of the impact force is taken on the outside of the foot and is not distributed efficiently. Underpronators or supinators, as they are known, are best suited to neutral shoes with some cushioning to help reduce the stress of the impact.

The best way to get your running action assessed is to visit a sports retailer that specialises in running and be filmed whilst running on a treadmill. There are, however, some more basic indications that can give you a clue as to the type of runner you are.  For example, those with flatter feet normally overpronate, whilst those with high arches typically supinate. In view of this, you won’t be surprised to learn that people with normal arches tend to pronate normally.

Another clue is shoe wear. Look at the soles of your old running shoes or trainers and see where they are worn. The pattern of wear can also indicate which kind of action you have.  There is plenty of help and information available on-line to illustrate this.

Length and width

The key point to remember here is that your feet get hot as you run.  And, as they get warmer, they expand; hence, it’s wise to go for a little extra room. If you’re a wider or narrower fitting than normal, you need to bear this in mind as well and select your shoe accordingly.

Weight

There are two factors, namely the weight of the shoe and the weight of the runner. To be honest, if running shoe weight is a significant issue for you, then you are probably a serious competitor and know this stuff already. Suffice to say that track or race shoes will be flimsier and lighter, whereas an off-road shoe, for example, will be sturdier and heavier.

For most of us, comfort, support and fit are much important than shoe weight. Modern running shoes are incredibly light anyway.

As regards the weight of the runner, the considerations are fairly straightforward. Heavier runners will be hitting the ground harder and are therefore likely to require more impact protection (cushioning) or support (pronators and overpronators).