So many strides so little time!
People have different styles of running. Some do a heel strike, where they land on their heel and roll all the way to their toes. Then there is a mid-strike, where you are landing on midsection and some of the ball of your foot. There is a lot of debate on what is the proper form for running. Many are now saying that you do not want to do a heel strike, because it is putting more impact and undue stress on your body. On the other hand, some say that you are going to be dealing with impact either way. There is a lot of information for both sides of the argument, but really it will come down to what works for you the best. You can even work with people who specifically deal with running technique. But this is not what we are talking about today. We are talking about the best shoe for your running pleasure.
The reason I bring up running technique is because now days there are a lot of different feature to shoes that take your technique into account. They now make different rise/drops in the heels of shoes depending on your needs. If you tend to be a heel striker, then the lower heels would be more appropriate. While if you are a fore foot striker, the taller heel may be good for you. This is not a hard and fast rule, but it is what some distributors recommenced. To really test this out and see what you like, you want to go somewhere where they understand about the rise and drop of the heel and look at your form and let you test out a bunch of different styles.
Your shoes should allow enough room for your foot to expand while working out. The amount you need will depend on the exercise you are doing, and how much your feet swell. The best time to test out shoes is after you have been walking around, usually later in the day after you have a days’ worth of movement on your feet. A general rule is you want your shoe 1/4 - 1/2'' larger than your foot size. You should have about a full thumb’s width between your longest toe and the edge of your shoe. Did you know our feet keep growing? For this reason, it is good to get your size checked every so often. Do not just assume you will stay a size 8.
Your heel should not slip out of the back of the shoe. If this is the case, your foot is too narrow or the shoe is too big. I know it is tempting to ignore that when you love the look of the shoe you are testing out, but fit matters way more than looks when it comes to athletic shoes. Different brands of shoes are built very differently, so make sure you find one that works with your specific foot.
You want the shoe to be snug along the mid-foot, not too tight and not too lose. That being said, you do want enough toe room so that your toes can spread out as they naturally should when exercising. This is part of your stabilization. Besides, if the shoe is too tight in this area, it will wind up hurting your foot. When you are dealing with muscles screaming at you, you do not want to add painful shoes to the mix.
Make sure you are testing out your shoes with the same type of socks you will be using. There is a big difference in a thin athletic sock and a think wool sock for cold weather or multiple layers of socks. Some people have winter shoes and summer shoes since you will have varying levels of layers on at different times of the year.
If you are working out every day, then your shoes will probably need to be replaced every 400-600 miles or 6 months give or take depending on the wear and tear. If you are doing exercise a lot less, then they may last a year. But remember the indicator of new shoes is not when they start to look ratty. A shoe support can break-down long before the look of the shoe goes down-hill. Get shoes that are comfortable right off the bat. While breaking them in may work for your leather work shoes, running shoes have a much shorter life. If you spend a month breaking them in, your may only have a few months left in them before you have to replace them. That makes no sense. Instead get some that you can use the full life of.
Shoes come with a varied amount of cushion. This is really a personal preference. When you are running, the impact is 3-5 times more than your actual body weight. For that reason, some shoe resources suggest that if you are heavier you may want more cushion in your shoes versus if you are lighter, where you may want less cushion and less weight in your shoes. But again this is a personal preference. The cushioning in different areas of the shoe also varies. If you are a heel striker, then you probably want more cushioning in the heel to help absorb the shock. If you are a mid-foot striker, you may want more cushioning in that area. You can have shoes that have next to nothing for cushioning, and you can have enough padding that you are running on clouds. This is a personal choice.