The 6 most common mistakes when buying running shoes.

Before you lace up take a read at the running shoe tips below because shoes can make or break your run… blisters, sore feet, ouch my toes… with the wrong shoes and socks on your day can become very unpleasant!

Here are a few tips to keep in mind when shopping for both road running shoes and trail running shoes.

 

Common Mistake #1. Yay these shoes have Gortex my feet will never get wet again!

– Wrong! I see people make this mistake every day. They get excited at the thought that there feet will stay dry the next time they run in the rain or step in a puddle, however this is not always the case. Gortex is a waterproof, fabric membrane and although it claims to be breathable it is not as breathable as not having it line your shoes. We want our feet to breath as much as possible when running, if its raining, regardless if you have a Gortex shoe on, your feet will still get wet eventually, rain comes from above hits your legs slides down to your sock, your sock get wet… your foot will eventually get wet. With Gortex also keep in mind its made to keep water out only to the height of the ankle of the shoe, if you step in a deep puddle or splash water up, in your shoe it goes and the water will stay in there. Gortex is made to keep water from passing through it so if the water is on the inside of the shoe it will not pass back through the fabric and you will now be running in a sloshy, squishy wet shoe. If you are wearing a Gortex/waterproof shoe in the warmer weather or in summer… say hello to blisters. Yes, Gortex is meant to be a breathable fabric, but it is a slow breathing method, your feet are sweating and need instant breathing room, if your feet don’t breath, they get sweaty and that is how blisters are started (even if your shoe fits properly yes you can get a blister). Keep this in mind next time you see a Gortex shoe option, its usually $5.00 – $15.00 more then the non waterproof version and there will be a small tag that says Gortex on the side of the shoe. Gortex is a quality that I mainly recommend for hiking boots/trail hikers. Not a terrible fabric or shoe option however keep in mind what it can and cannot provide to you while running.

 

Common Mistake #2. Wow look at the cool grippy tread on this shoe! 

– Are you trail running? No? Then you need to move on from the shoes with the big cool grippy tread. I have experience quite often with people asking me “This shoe looks awesome can I try this one”, me: “The Salomon Speed Cross 3, sure, are you trail running?”, them: ” No, I do a lot of walking and some road running”.

Me: (in my head) Noooooooooooooo

When you have big lugs (tread) that are very pronounced on the bottom of the shoe they are made specially for traction, for technical trails, muddy, wet slippery conditions, even snow running. Not for road running or walking. The traction and lugs on the bottom of these trail running shoes are in some cases what make the shoe so good. Wearing them on the pavement will wear the lugs off in no time and back to the shoe store you go to buy a new pair, a lot sooner then you would if you were to buy a trail cross road shoe or just a road shoe. If you  go for walks in trails or run on flatter non-technical trails often then a trail cross shoe would be a perfect option for you. Most shoe brands now have a trail runner option and a lot of the main road running brands like Asics, have a trail cross running shoe. Know the terrain you are running on, you may have more then one running shoe in fact I recommend it, but wear the appropriate shoe for the terrain you are on, your shoes will last you longer and your feet will be more comfortable.

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Common Mistake #3. These Shoes fit nice and tight… perfect.

– Not perfect… unless you like your toes jamming the front of your shoe while down hill running. We need to make sure we are buying the right size. It might been going up or down a half to full shoes size.

Trail running: When your shopping for shoes you want to make sure that you are leaving a good thumb space between your big toe and the end of the shoe. When I bought my first pair of trail running shoes, the Salomon Speed Cross 3’s I went with my usual size not even thinking about leaving some space for my toes, still newish to running in trails why would I assume different then my road shoes. The next run I went on left me walking in a lot of pain every downhill, and when trail running through mountains the down hills are big and steep in cases. I went back to the store and bought a half size bigger in my shoe. So please keep this in mind while trying on shoes. Most stores will have a angled ramp or something that you can step on to test a downhill angle. Ask them if you don’t see one and step on it while trying shoes on. Really force your foot forward as if you are running down a mountain trail make sure your toes aren’t reaching the end of the shoe. Now in saying this you also want to make sure you haven’t gone up a size to big so that your heel is slipping or foot is moving around. Its a fine balance that you will need to find, but don’t worry the right shoe is out there!

Road Running: You have more leeway with your shoes and toe room. Road running shoes are a lot softer in most cases, there is a lot more of a softer meshy material that is creating the upper of the shoe. There is no need for as much protection on a road shoe, your not running through roots and rocks. With a softer upper your toes don’t have to worry as much about bashing into something hard on a downhill. You are still going to want about a thumb space of room between your toes and the end of the shoe, however its not life or death if your toe grazes the end of your shoe on your downhills, this is your discretion, if it hurts then its wrong.

For both road running and trail running you also want to note that the half size bigger shoe is to accommodate for swollen feet. Even if its not hot out your feet will swell. Its always a good idea to go shoe shopping later in the day after you have been on your feet for a few hours.

 

Common Mistake #4. Yeah I though I might need a new pair I’ve had these ones for a year or so…

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– Oh my gosh please do not do this to your feet and body. If you are running in your shoes 2 or more times a week you are not going to get a year out of them. Shoes do have a breaking point. If you are new to running you might not know what this feels like yet, those of you who have, you know what I mean. I myself can feel it almost instantly in my shoes when they say “we are done now get your wallet ready.” I still will push them for a few more runs and get as much out of them as possible before they become walking shoes. Shoes will either loose their tread, if a trail runner, become soft/loosen up/stretch out, lose their “bounce” or feel “dead” which is the loss of the shoes responsiveness in the cushion and many other things.

I also hear a lot of “I have this pain the runs down along side my shin bone when I am running…” me: “how long have you had your shoes?” them: “oh along time over 6 months or I don’t remember when I bought them.” If you can’t remember when you bought your last pair of shoes… its a hint that its time for a new pair. That pain you are feeling is called shin splints and its very common to get them when your shoes are to old or “dead”. It’s your bodies way of telling you its time for a new pair. The shoe has lost its structure, become to soft in the body and perhaps to hard and “dead” in the sole/fore foot striking area. This will affect your stride and lead to the shin splits you are feeling. If you leave this problem for to long shin splints can be hard to get rid of so please be aware and take care.

 

Common Mistake #5. Oh… I just wear the same shoe for everything. 

– It’s like nails on a chalkboard… It’s like seeing people in the trails wearing Nike Free shoes, either you will hurt yourself or ruin your pretty shoes. Either way if you can please do not wear the same shoe for everything. There are shoes out there that are great for multiple different uses but not for everything. Again be aware of the terrain and weather you are going to be in, a enjoyable, injury free adventure is always what we are aiming for, however we have to take care of ourselves and provide ourselves with the right gear and equipment in order for that to happen.

 

Common Mistake #6. I lost a toenail from my last shoes… I want a shoe that won’t do that.

– Welcome to being a runner! You lost a toenail… join the club. Sorry, but there isn’t a shoe that will prevent that. Even if you follow the guidelines and buy your shoes with enough toe space that your not jamming your toes at the end you can still lose your toe nails. Your toe nails are going to be rubbing on your socks and other areas inside the toe box of the shoe all the time. What you can do to help prevent this (or keep it less occurring) is keep your toe nails trimmed, run in a shoe with a wider toe box and wear a breathable moister wicking sock. Or you just accept it and rock the no to nail or black toe nail look. We are all runners, we are in the same boat.

 

Lets quickly talk socks:

There are tons and tons of different socks out there on the market. A lot of them claim  no blisters! It can be hard to decide what ones to choose and most of the time it is a trial and error endeavour however here are some things to keep in mind when weeding through the options.

1. No Cotton! Cotton retains moisture. Moisture + heat + friction in a running shoe = blisters, calluses and hot spots. Cotton also gets more abrasive when wet. Yes, cotton socks are cheap but its not worth the pain, spend more on a good technical pair of running socks that will last you and be comfortable. Bad socks can make even the best shoes a bad experience.

2. Look for a running-specific sock, the fabric should be breathable, moister wicking and some people prefer to have socks with a ticker, cushy, padded fore foot. Lots of running socks will add this feature to add more padding for comfort.

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3. If you are really looking to protect your feet from any blisters or skin rubbing etc. then I highly recommend Injinji toe socks. They may seem weird but they are, in my opinion, the greatest running socks out there. With the sock fabric between your toes your are preventing the skin from rubbing and blisters forming, your toes and skin are wrapped closer then a normal sock therefore wicking the sweat faster.

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4. You will also want to make note of the height of the sock. If it is to short or sits below the ankle ridge of your shoe then you might have issues with your sock not staying up. Its nice to have a sock rise above the ankle of the shoe.

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Comments

  1. Hey just a quick comment to say thanks for your post, definitely pulled some good advice from it in going a half size up in my runners now, much improved, cheers!

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