7 Tips for Choosing the Best Running Shoes

Finding a good pair of shoes is arguably the most important component of your running. It’s not a decision that you should make lightly, and be prepared for an investment (anywhere from $50 on clearance to $120+). Whether you are a new runner or have been running awhile, these tips will help you find the perfect match for your feet!

1. Go to a running store.

We always suggest to support local stores, but if for some reason you can’t find one, at least go to a running-specific store, like Road Runner Sports or Fleet Feet Sports. Never go to a discount or department store for your running shoes (unless they happen to have your brand and style on sale or something). Any running-specific store will ask you some questions, check out your form and then have you try on a few different pairs of shoes. You should be able to run around in them and see how they feel. Take as much time as you need – don’t rush this decision.

2. Go to the store prepared.

This means go at the end of the day, when your feet are a little swollen (like they would be during a run), and bring your own socks. Bring any orthotics with you, or put in the insoles that you plan to use, if at all.

3. How much padding do you want?

Some people love cushioning, while others prefer a more minimalist design. While most brands have options that are in between both – some cushioned options, some lower drop options – there are brands known for each. Hoka is a brand known for cushioning, and Vibrams are super minimalist.

You may be asking, “what the heck does “drop” even mean?” It’s basically the difference in height between the ball of your foot and your heel. The difference in running shoes used to be between 12-15mm, but now most shoes are somewhere between 4-10mm, with some even advertising no drop (0-4mm). If you decide to do a lower drop than you might be used to, go for less mileage and take it easy while your achilles and calf get adjusted to the difference.

4. Do you have any “special needs”? 

Some of us (many of us) pronate while we run, which means our foot rolls inward when it hits the ground. Over time, this can lead to injury, so if this is something that your foot does, you will want a shoe with support. While a running shoe expert will watch you run in a neutral shoe and check your foot strike, if you look at the bottom of a pair of shoes you wear often, and the inside is more worn than the outside, you likely pronate. If the outside is more worn than the inside, you may supinate (roll your foot outward).

Other “special needs” include a high arch or a flat foot.

5. The fit. 

Personally, I go anywhere from a half size to a full size bigger because I like to have room in the toe box (about a thumb’s width). Even if you don’t want that much space, your toes should not touch the front of the shoe. The shoe should be snug, but comfortable around your foot. Your foot should not slide around or feel constricted.

6. Ignore the colors/design.

The way the shoe looks should not be more important than the way the shoe feels. Think function, not fashion. That being said, you can usually get both. Shoe companies usually make a particular shoe in multiple colors, so if the store doesn’t have any colors you like, try checking another store or online.

7. Don’t (always) listen to your friends.

While your friend may have found the perfect pair for her, that doesn’t mean it’s the perfect pair for you. By all means, ask friends for brand recommendations, but keep in mind that you may have entirely different needs and that brand may not work for you.

Now that I’ve picked the perfect pair, how often do I need to replace them?

Generally speaking, every 300-500 miles, depending on how quickly you wear them down. If you run a few miles a few times a week, it’s about every 4-6 months.

Feature Photo Credit: LifeFitness

7 of the Best Apps for Runners

For most of us, the days of running with just an iPod are gone. We don’t know many runners who don’t head out the door without their cell phone, and it’s a good idea to have one with you anyway if you are going out alone. But lucky for us, as phones have become smarter, there has also been a boom in apps to put on your phone that will make your run easier. Here are seven of them. Prices were accurate as June 2016, but may change at any time!

RunKeeper

Operating System: Android or iOS
Cost: Basic $0, Upgrade $9.99/mo or $39.99/yr

RunKeeper is one of the most popular apps out there, and for good reason – it does a lot. The app features GPS/distance tracking, speed monitoring, caloric output, and activity history. You can set goals, save and find new routes, and even get training plans if you upgrade. You can also link the app with your account on the website.

Spotify Running

Operating System: Android or iOS
Cost: Basic $0, Premium $9.99/mo

If you have RunKeeper, Spotify integrates into that app, but if not, Spotify Running is a great app that chooses music based on your tempo. So if you’re going for the golden 180 steps/minute, then you can set it to that, and the beat will keep you on track.

Daily Burn

Operating System: Android or iOS
Cost: Free 30 day trial, then $12.95/mo

Love running, but like cross training, too? DailyBurn features daily 30-minute, full-body workouts that you can stream from your iPhone or iPad. There’s also a workout library, and a motivating community you can join!

MapMyRun

Operating System: Android or iOS
Cost: Free

Yep, you guessed it – this one is all about mapping your route, sharing your route, and finding new routes to run. You can also track your activity, connect with the website, count your calories, and share your run with your social network.

Zombies, Run!

Operating System: Android or iOS
Cost: Free, but lots of in-app purchases

This app is a great way to mix up your run when motivation is lacking. Each time you start a run, you are given a mission and music. When zombies come, you speed up. Interval training at it’s finest (funnest?). There is also an 8-week 5K training plan that you can get for $1.99.

Strava

Operating System: Android or iOS
Cost: Basic $0, Premium $6/mo or $59/yr

This app is a must-have for anyone who is competitive and has competitive friends. It’s called the “social network for athletes” and doesn’t just let you track your runs and download your Garmin data, but let’s you connect with friends and compete against them in challenges. The premium version includes personalized training and   advanced data analysis options.

Endomondo

Operating System: Android or iOS
Cost: Basic $0, Premium $5.99/mo or $29.99/yr

Another tracking app, that offers basic information: duration, distance, speed, calories burned, and it maps your route. You can also set goals and review your workouts. There is a premium version that offers training plans and coaching. The coolest thing about this app is that you can leave motivational “peptalks” for your friends that also use the app (and they can leave messages for you!).

What apps do you use regularly?

Feature Photo Credit: Georgia Papadon

 

9 Ways to learn to love running

While some of us are already hooked on running, I know there are people out there who genuinely want to try, but are intimidated. Or have just started running, but don’t really get the “runner’s high” that everyone talks about. Don’t worry – we have put together a great list of ways you can learn to love running and make it part of your lifestyle!

1. Start slow.

It might seem really hard right now, but I promise you that it gets easier (and then you step it up and it gets hard again, but that’s another story). Start slower than you think you need to go, and gradually work your way up to a faster pace or longer distance. Also? It’s okay to walk. You could try the run/walk method, or just walk when you feel like you need to.

2. Set a goal.

For some people, that might be to finish one mile without stopping, for others that might be to run a 5K, or even a half marathon. Whatever it is, a goal can get you in a rhythm and give you a sense of accomplishment.

3. Get some external motivation.

For some people, setting a goal is a great motivator, but for others it might be something like finding a friend or club to run with, picking a new trail to explore, or signing up for something like Fun Run Box to try out fun new things on your run.

4. Find some good music.

Music can turn even the most boring run into a fun work out, if you pick the right tunes. Create a running playlist of your favorite songs for your phone/iPod, or check out Spotify Running – it picks songs that match your running tempo.

5. Keep it simple.

Don’t try to get crazy with all kind of work outs, just keep it simple and take it easy. This really basic training plan from Runner’s World requires just 30 minutes, three days a week.

6. Schedule it in.

If you stick with it and make running a habit, it will become easier. In fact, it will become one of the best parts of your day!

7. Do a little research.

Check out a book, search online, and pay attention to what you eat before your run, how long you need to wait before heading out, whether you need to take hydration, what kind of hydration to take, etc. You want to feel good while you are running, and that’s part of it.

8. Get the right shoes.

Again, you want to feel good on your run, so visit a local running store and get fitted for the right shoes. This will decrease your potential for injury and keep you out there (which is the goal, after all).

9. Remind yourself of why you started in the first place.

Maybe you want to be healthier for yourself or for your family, maybe you want to meet new people, or maybe you just want a new challenge – whatever your reason for starting is, remind yourself of it when the going gets tough. We believe in you!

Why did you start running? What helped you get “hooked”?

Feature Image: SimonWhitaker