A Match Made in Heaven: Choosing Running Shoes

Take the guess work out of finding your perfect sole mate, 12WBT gives you everything you need to know so you end up choosing running shoes right for you.

With the wide range of running shoes on the market today, choosing the right pair can seem like quantum physics. But if you’re toying with the idea of using the “no shoes” excuse to skip your workout, you’re out of luck. Our running shoe buying guide makes it so easy, you could be pounding the pavement within a couple of hours.

Know Your Feet

Running shoes are made to fit your foot type (what type of arch you have) and gait style (the way you move and how your foot strikes the ground when you run).

There are three basic ways to figure this out:

  1. Have a professional perform gait analysis, which involves studying the way you move when you run. A podiatrist, physiotherapist or an expert in a specialty running shop can do this for you.
  2. Have a shoe specialist analyse your feet and the wear on your old running shoes. This might not be as precise as professional gait analysis, but it’s also not as costly.
  3. Last but not least, you can perform the ‘Wet Test’ yourself, by wetting your foot and stepping on a paper bag. You can then analyse your footprint to figure out your foot type.

Normal foot
Featuring a normal-sized arch, the normal foot’s wet print shows a curve along the inside, with the forefoot and heel connected by a wide band. This type of foot usually indicates normal “pronation”, which means the foot lands on the outside of the heel and rolls slightly inwards. Normal feet don’t need any special treatment and shoes wear out uniformly.

Choose: Stability shoes.

Flat foot
The flat foot leaves a print that shows almost the entire sole of the foot because the arch is low. People with flat feet tend to “overpronate” – the outside of their heel strikes first, but then their foot rolls too far inwards. This can lead to overuse injuries, so it’s important to choose shoes that reduce the degree of pronation. Overpronators will notice that their shoes wear out more quickly on the outside of the heel and the inside of the forefoot.

Motion-control shoes.

High-arched foot
The print of a high-arched foot shows a sharp curve on the inside of the foot and only a thin band connecting the forefoot and heel. This type of foot tends to “underpronate” (or supinate), which means it doesn’t roll far enough inwards after the outside of the heel strikes the ground and therefore doesn’t absorb shock effectively. Shoes tend to wear out on the outer edge from the heel to the little toe.

Choose: Cushioned shoes.


Narrow, Normal and Wide feet.

A Game Plan for the Sports Shoe Store

First of all, avoid multitasking when choosing shoes. If you plan to run, buy running shoes. Walking shoes, cross trainers and other types of athletic shoes aren’t designed for running and could cause injury. Secondly, when trying on shoes, wear the socks you usually wear for running – as well as orthotics if you have them – to ensure a perfect fit.

Jessica Knox, podiatrist, elite athlete and spokesperson for the Australian Podiatry Association, gives us her top tips for selecting the right running shoes.

  1. Forget Fads and Fashion
    Those hot pink runners might match your new workout top, but they may not offer the support you need to avoid injury. “Quite simply, avoid buying shoes based on the way they look,” says Jessica.
  2. Choose the Right Size for BOTH Feet
    Get the salesperson to measure both your feet – one foot is often larger than the other, so you’ll need to accommodate the larger foot.
  3. Get the Fit Right
    “The shoe should be snug but not tight,” explains Jessica. “As a general rule, leave the width of your thumb between the end of the shoe and your longest toe. Your toes should be able to wiggle up and down. Shop for your shoes around the same time of day you intend to exercise, but be aware that your feet tend to swell in the afternoon.”
  4. Test the Flex Point
    “Hold the heel of the shoe with one hand and press the toes with the other,” Jessica advises. “The shoe should bend at the ball of your foot.”
  5. Take them for a Trial Run
    “Test out the shoes by jogging in them – around the shop if necessary!” she insists.
  6. Prioritise Comfort
    “It’s the most important variable,” Jessica says. Try as many pairs as you need, until you find one that feels just right. Don’t plan on breaking them in. Running shoes aren’t like stilettos – they should feel comfortable right away.
  7. Don’t Get Sucked in by Bells and Whistles
    “It isn’t necessary to pay more for a shoe that claims to be state-of-the-art if it doesn’t feel more comfortable on your foot,” Jessica says. But don’t buy the cheapest shoes either – they could leave you injured.


When to change your running shoes

“Running shoes should last for approximately 800 to 1000km,” but that depends on running technique, body size and running terrain, says Jessica. “Running in worn-out or inadequate shoes increases your risk of injury,” she says. “You may also notice loss of running efficiency, an increase in muscle fatigue and soreness.”

So how do you know when it’s time to ditch the old comfies and hit the shops? It’s all about sole. “Over time, you can generally feel or see compression of the midsole, and you may notice the tread wearing down, at which point it’s time for a new pair,” explains Jessica.

There you have it, no more excuses – time to make a run for the shops!

12WBT has a team of experts to help you reach your health and fitness goals. Our running programs have been developed by professional runners including Olympian Ben St Lawrence. Sign up today and start training for a half marathon or 10km fun run!

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  1. This tips came in handy when I was deciding on my new pair of shoes! Thank you xxx

  2. Great article! I have high arches in my feet.I published a very similar article.

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    Thank you.

  3. […] in decent running shoes. I spoke to a few physiotherapists for their recommendations. Get yourself fitted for a pair that […]

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