Straight away, there is no such thing as the best running shoe. It does not exist. Anyone who claims there is a best running shoe is simply wrong.
All running shoe brands and models have different characteristics or design features. This may include the amount of drop (difference in stack height between the forefoot and rearfoot); the amount of cushioning; the stiffness or flexibility in different directions; the use of motion control design features for ‘overpronation‘; and many other design features. Each of those design features are designed for different characteristics of the individual runner. Each runner has different characteristics so will need different design features. This means that any particular running shoe that is good and works for one runner will not be good and work for another runner. Asking for advice for what is the best running shoe is fraught with risk, just because it worked for one runner does not mean it will work for another.
Some running shoes companies have made claims that they have the best running shoe, such as the technologically rich Asics Metarun. Commentary on that shoe certainly suggest that it is a good shoe for those that it is made for, but it is not suitable for everyone, so it can not be the best running shoe. Other brands make similar clams for their shoes being the best. Best for who?
Getting the right running shoe can be difficult and more often than not is based on trial and error. It is a matter of finding the running shoe that is most comfortable for you, fits you and suits you. For this reason, you are better getting expert advice from a specialty running shoe store rather than random people online who have no idea about your characteristics. It is important that the time is taken to get it right as different shoe characteristics (such as the drop) can affect the injury rate in different runners. Also, getting the right amount of cushioning for the individual runner is important as that can affect running economy (ie performance).
There is not and never can there be, the best running shoe.
Selecting the Right Running Shoe for You:
- Understand Your Foot Type: Determine your foot type, which generally falls into three categories:
- Neutral Arch: If your footprint shows a moderate curve along the inside and you evenly distribute weight, you likely have a neutral arch.
- Flat Feet (Overpronation): If your footprint shows almost the entire sole of your foot, you might have flat feet and tend to overpronate (foot rolls inward excessively).
- High Arch (Underpronation): If your footprint shows a thin line or no connection between the heel and forefoot, you likely have high arches and may underpronate (foot doesn’t roll inward enough).
- Visit a Running Store: Go to a specialty running store where staff are knowledgeable about running shoes. They can perform a gait analysis to help determine your foot type and how your feet strike the ground while running.
- Size Matters: Running shoes should be about half a size to a full size larger than your regular shoe size. Your feet tend to swell during running, and you need enough room to prevent discomfort and blisters.
- Try on Multiple Pairs: Don’t settle for the first pair that feels comfortable. Try on several different models from various brands to compare fit and comfort.
- Consider Your Running Style: Think about the type of running you’ll be doing. Are you a casual jogger, a long-distance runner, or a sprinter? Different shoes are designed for different types of running.
- Cushioning and Support: Choose a shoe with the right level of cushioning and support for your foot type and running style. Neutral runners might prefer more cushioning, while overpronators might need stability features.
- Flexibility and Arch Support: Your shoe should bend and flex at the ball of the foot, not in the middle. Look for arch support that matches your foot type.
- Comfort and Fit: Your shoes should feel comfortable from the moment you try them on. There should be no pressure points, and your toes shouldn’t feel cramped.
- Test Run: Some stores allow you to take a short run in the shoes. This can give you a better feel for how they perform during actual running.
- Replace Old Shoes: Keep track of the mileage you put on your shoes. On average, running shoes should be replaced every 300-500 miles, or if you notice signs of wear and tear.
- Consider Insoles: If you have specific foot issues or require additional support, custom insoles or orthotics can be added to your running shoes.
- Personal Preference: Ultimately, go with the shoes that feel best to you. Everyone’s feet are different, and what works for one person might not work for another.
Just remember there is no such thing as the “best” running shoe. There is one that is going to be best for you, but that does not mean it best for the next person.