The perfect running shoe is tough to find. There are so many things to consider. Running seems so simple to many, but that isn’t the case at all. Running involves a lot of different factors to consider – the shape of your feet, the surface you run on, your body weight, your biomechanics, physical readiness, and so on.
This only means that no two runners will be satisfied with the same shoe. What fits one type of a runner, doesn’t fit the other. Many people spend lots of time, effort, and money on finding and buying running shoes they think will meet their needs the most.
In most cases, they all make wrong choices simply because they look at the wrong things instead of focusing on what matters. To most, it’s much more important what the shoe doesn’t do when, in reality, they should be worrying about the things it actually can do.
Most runners will buy running shoes that won’t make their feet sweat or don’t feel heavy. Others will aim to purchase footwear that simply looks appealing to their eye. There’s so much more to take into consideration.
Choosing the perfect footwear takes a lot more than just finding shoes that will allow you to feel comfortable while running. With that in mind, this guide aims to show you the ropes when choosing the perfect running shoes. With the right footwear, you can run a marathon and still feel good and energized about it.
It’s essential to learn about different shoe types, what features to look for, understand the terminology, specific characteristics that suit your particular needs, and so on. Read on to find out how to buy the best runner shoes in 2020.
1. Running shoe types
Running is the most popular sport in the world. It’s also the most accessible one as anyone can do it, anytime, anyplace. It doesn’t require lots of cash, fancy facilities, or specialized equipment to get started. Now, your running will be as successful as your running shoes are good.
You should never skimp on your equipment and footwear as this makes the entire running experience much better and more comfortable. It’s also important to look out for your health, reduce injury, and watch for your knees and joints.
While there’s a whole science around minimalist and maximalist running shoes, this pseudo-science is nothing more than a trend. The truth is much simpler – you should choose your running shoes by the type of your feet.
If a shoe feels good when you’re running, that’s the perfect running shoe for you. We have narrowed running shoe types down to three to make things easier for you.
Everyday running shoes
As the name suggests, these are your everyday running shoes. Perfect for doing marathons and road races, these are the shoes you’ll be using for your every run. They are light but stiff, comfortable, and don’t feel heavy on your feet. Racing flats include a wide range of cushioning options.
If you’re preparing yourself for running a marathon, you should go with a more substantial cushion. If your goal is mile road racing, you should go with more minimal cushioning options. The best thing to see if everyday running shoes really do it for you is to test them.
Do some running in your running shoes and racing flats to feel them. Be careful, though, as most everyday running shoes aren’t built to withstand rigorous training.
Lightweight running shoes
Even though everyday running shoes are lightweight too, they aren’t as flexible as the real lightweight trainers. Lightweight running shoes are built to support your foot and help you build foot strength but, more importantly, they provide a full range of motion.
If your running goal is increased speed, the lightweight running shoes should be your option number one. These trainers are both flexible and lightweight, which makes them a perfect fit for fartleks, intervals, tempo runs, and sprints.
Unlike your everyday running shoes, they provide more flexibility, allowing you to build foot strength. Their maximum performance and durability are the two main reasons why so many professional runners choose to race in lightweight trainers.
Now, people who aren’t used to lightweight running shoes might find it a bit odd to make a transition. This is because most of them are used to running in more cushioned options. If you have experienced such trouble, the simplest solution is to take your time to make the transition.
Build foot support and strength by walking for starters. Once you start feeling more comfortable, go for shorter runs. After, gradually increase the pace until you reach your full potential.
Trail running shoes
If you like running on surfaces with obstacles, mud, roots, and rocks, trail shoes might be the best type of running shoes for you. They are designed for off-road running routes. Trail shoes are incredibly diverse. They can be big bulky shoes or lightly cushioned; it all depends on what you need.
Three factors impact your choice of the right trail shoe:
- The sort of surface/terrain you’re running on
- Weather conditions
- How far you’re running
Pay special attention to some of the following commonalities:
- Lugs – lugs are individual threads that allow for solid traction on slippery or loose surfaces. Trails shoes have enhanced lugs for all sorts of running surfaces, from wet grass to hard-packed dirt.
- Rock plate – sharp rocks can be a massive obstacle for runners, but you can easily overcome such terrain by getting trail shoes with a rock plate. This extremely firm and thin material will make your running efforts much easier in even the harshest of conditions.
- Reinforced upper – all trail shoes are considered to have a heavier and more durable upper. Since you’re going to be using them quite often, you need quality footwear that can withstand the abuse.
2. Getting the right fit
When it comes to how to choose the best running shoes, you should focus on getting the right fit. You can do this by considering the essentials. First of all, you need to go with only those shoes that feel reliable, comfortable, and safe enough to support your running efforts and feet during your running practices.
Only buy those shoes that have clearly specified features by the manufacturer and apparent reliability assurance. Some of the things that a running shoe should have are the type of gait it supports, the cushioning, the materials, the size, and durability.
Your ideal running shoe has to be comfortable to wear and durable too. Look for the most long-lasting, durable shoes with superb fitting and closure. Pay special attention to external features and size. The shoe has to be the right size. Other external aspects include the design, the upper material, the collar, the closure, etc.
Look for the width and size according to your feet. When running, you need to pay attention to things like toe length and width, the right arch support, heel support, firmness, and flexibility. Make sure that your running shoes have a bit roomier and wide toe as you’ll need more space in the toe area.
This is what allows you to run faster and move forward much easier. During the gait cycle, your feet make transitions between the heel and the toes. That’s why your right fit should include more space for expansion. The right arch support also matters. It can be low, high, or neutral, depending on the shape of your feet.
Make sure you know your feet type, as this greatly helps find the right fit. The kind of arch support you need depends on the way your feet rest on the surface. Heel support matters too. This is probably one of the most important things to think about. The best fit is the shoe that provides full support to your entire foot. Heel support is, therefore, paramount.
Your perfect shoe should have a comfortable, higher, and cradling heel support. This helps make your running efforts much more comfortable as proper heel support makes sure that your foot lands appropriately on the ground with each step you take.
Go with the shoes that have bouncier, comfortable, and sturdier heel to ensure full protection of the heel area during hard and fast impact. Last but not least is firmness and flexibility. You need proper support, and you can never get enough of it.
The more supportive a design is, the more flexible and comfortable your running is. Improved and increased firmness and flexibility provide additional safety, security, and reliability as well.
3. Understand the terminology
Choosing the best running shoes by your preferences and running needs is hard if you don’t understand the terminology. That’s why we felt the need to break this terminology into the three most important areas that we think both beginners and experienced runners should know.
This will also eliminate any confusion that you might have when trying to find the right running shoe for your needs. There is no need to waste your time, effort, and money on the wrong running shoes. It’s also essential that our readers understand the terminology as the wrong shoe choice might leave them unprotected or even injured.
The category of maximum support running shoes is for runners who are looking for more control and support. These running shoes are designed to ease down any excessive pronation. They have the most advanced features like higher-density material medial posts that ensure maximum heel and arch support.
They also provide enough space for the toes to expand with each step freely. Maximum support running shoes are extra durable and offer maximum ground stability and contact. These shoes are perfect for more challenging running surfaces.
Stability running shoes with structured cushioning
Stability shoes come with well-structured cushioning and offer a wider range of motion control. While they aren’t as controlling and heavy as maximum support, they are as supportive as they should be.
Stability shoes are probably the most popular everyday running shoes as they are perfect for everyday running surfaces and conditions. If ground contact stability is your thing, stability shoes are your best option.
Neutral cushioned trainers
Neutral trainers are a lot lighter than ordinary shoes and come with less motion control features. However, since they are very well-cushioned, they feel a lot softer under-foot and allow for faster movement.
They are simply perfect for people with neutral foot types, especially if they are orthotic wearers and are less than 13 stone in weight.
Aside from these three areas, choosing the right fit also includes paying special attention to weight, drop, and cushioning. Lighter shoes include less cushioning, which is why they feel a lot lighter.
Such shoes are perfect for runners who are looking for faster shoes. However, we recommend extra cushioning for longer distances. If you’re about to run a marathon, a heavier shoe might be a better option.
Drop is the measurement of the difference between the forefoot and heel. It tells you how much you can drop your toes below the heel. If you need more heel striking, the best option is a higher drop.
When it comes to cushioning, it’s important to emphasize the importance of impact absorption. Running can be extremely demanding on your joints, knees, hips, back, heels, and body, in general.
That’s why having proper running shoes is so important. Listen to your body. And, always include the surface and distance to see what the best shoe for your needs is.
4. Running shoe features
Choosing the best running shoes for your needs can be quite a challenge, but if you know what to look for, things get a lot easier. To find the right fit, compare these features to make an educated decision:
- Correct sizing
- Suitable arch support
- Easy to wear
- Cushioning and comfort
- Toe box width
- Shoe Width
There are also other factors to consider, like terrain and midsole. We took all these features and factors into consideration to bring you a list of the best running shoes for 2020.
Hoka has been at the very top when it comes to the best running shoes. The brand made a name with their Fly range of stripped-down running shoes. This time, they went one step forward in their version of Nike Vaporfly 4%.
Carbon X is a fast, slim, and light running shoe with a midsole length of the carbon-fiber plate. This shoe provides just enough support to give energy return and a stiff ride with each step.
You’ll be able to make lighter and faster steps while the blown rubber outsole and enhanced curved shape ensure maximum impact absorption. Carbon X is great for everyday running. Still, if downhill is your thing, this might not be a good solution.
If maximum protection and safety are your top priorities, HOVR Guardian might just be the best option for you. This shoe is just perfect for overpronators.
It’s an excellent motion-control shoe with maximum stability and flexibility. It’s a bit old-fashioned, stiff, and heavy, which makes it perfect for off-road running.
Guardian provides maximum stability, weight, and cushioning, but it might feel a bit outdated to modern runners. However, it does come with a smart sensor app that provides accurate training data.
New Balance is a great fit for a very wide range of running needs. It’s perfect for those who are looking for fast running shoes with just enough support and cushioning. It’s a stability running shoe while it provides a good level of responsiveness.
New Balance is a lightweight running shoe that ensures low forefoot pop off. What makes it so accessible is the fact that it has just enough cushioning and lateral stability to be widely acceptable to most runners.
What makes this shoe stand out is the forefoot filled with a fantastic combination of lighter and firmer foam and Fuelcell foam. This fantastic, super-bouncy combo allows for ultimate stability and a wider range of motion. We recommend New Balance to all non-elitist runners.
Nike has been the leading shoe brand for a very long time. Their Turbo 2 is an exceptional running shoe that covers everything between being an out-and-out racer and a neutral running shoe for long distances. It’s perfect for all types of runners, no exclusions.
Faster runners will love it for its glove-like fit, high levels of responsiveness, and enough cushioning for longer excursions. Slower runners will appreciate Turbo 2 too as it provides stability, arch, and heel support, and enough traction for any running surface.
Currently, among the highest quality running shoes, Reebok Floatride Energy is the most affordable running shoe for the level of quality, stability, flexibility, durability, and comfort it offers.
It’s bouncy and light, with fantastic cushioning that makes it perfect for track sessions and interval runs as well as longer runs and marathons. If you’re looking for extra stability and cushioning at affordable prices, Reebok Floatride Energy should be your option number one.
Make sure that your running shoes are comfortable and well-fitted for your needs. Look for specialized toe and heel construction to ensure maximum comfort with each transition during the gait cycle.
Lightweight padding, cushioning, and arch support all play an essential role in making your final choice. This goes especially for those who are active runners. We hope that this guide will help you make an educated choice.