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For the exercise running shoe illiterate, there are so many different varieties of exercise running shoes and so many different brand choices that it becomes overwhelming when looking for the right fit. Even reading online is tricky because what may be sound advice, easily gets lost in: the vast amount of information, scheming marketing articles, hype for new shoes, and the very large number running shoe choices.

So here I am wondering if you can help me solve this riddle, how can I objectively choose a good running shoe?

This question aims to answer:

  • What type of running shoes exist, so that I may understand what I am looking at and how to select a shoe based on what it offers.

  • How do you identify the superior shoe based on their longevity, quality, brand trust, and other factors?

  • What else should I need to know that is not included here?

Edit: If it matters to you, here are my personal goals:

  • To run distances up to 10 miles, I currently run 3 miles.
  • To have the shoe reflect support during runs, whether long or short.
  • I would prefer them not to be barefoot, and to be on the lighter side vs the heavy side (although feel free to slap my hand show me why).
  • I am 6'4" if that matters, I am in my target BMI and I have no medical issues/orthopedic necessities.
  • I plan to run at most 3 times a week (both long and short runs).
  • I will run on flat, solid terrain. I do wonder if trail shoes are superior to shoes for flat surfaces, and whether or not they will work on flat surfaces too.
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    I'll just point out that there's fast runners using vastly different types of shoes and I'm sure there's some barefoot folks that are pretty quick. You should also note what kind of mileage and terrain you'll be doing. 5K's, 50 miles, on road, off road, etc. – Eric Jul 19 '17 at 16:01
  • I admit that it's not as simple as pointing it out, but if I physically go to a shoe store, or see them online I am immediately overwhelmed. I just need some pointers based on the above. I will edit with my goals (I omitted them originally to keep the question unbiased). – AGE Jul 19 '17 at 16:59
  • For sure, but the evaluation criteria for piles o' miles on road is different than something you can smash around on rocks and trails. Those updates help a lot. And just to be clear, you're running on roads right? Not a lot of trails / rocks etc? – Eric Jul 19 '17 at 17:05
  • @EricKaufman I updated my personal preferences: yes I will be running on flat surfaces. The idea of going on a trail and twisting my ankle freaks me out... BUT I would love to learn more about trail shoes too, after all the question itself covers everything – AGE Jul 19 '17 at 17:07
  • @EricKaufman forgot to mention: even though sidewalks are mostly even flat surfaces, I do find in my neighborhood a lot of unevenness... I wonder if it matters in the shoe choice – AGE Jul 19 '17 at 17:08
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According to a leading expert in the field, Daniel Ramskov, you should choose the shoes, which makes you feel most comfortable, when you run. This means the most objective criteria for choosing the right shoes is your subjective experience of the shoes. Do they feel good, then they are good for the purpose.

This advice is valid for avoiding injuries as well as for selecting the shoes for the best performance. (Run faster, better endurance)

Science can't prove any other correlations and expensive analyses are usually waste of time and money.

Take a look at his (and his colleagues) work.

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    I'm not really into this answer because barring trying every shoe on and going for a run, he can't evaluate them. – Eric Jul 20 '17 at 20:28
  • If you feel unsure how you feel in different types of shoes, I suggest you to visit a shop with a threadmill and supervision on the difference between the shoes. – Gyrfalcon Jul 20 '17 at 21:19
  • @EricKaufman unfortunately it is that way. The analysis vid can show what you need to correct for, if anything, but comfort is very much individual. What makes it annoying is every few years companies change designs, so I have to go through it all again. Ran in nothing but saucony in college x-country, now they don't fit right at all. – JohnP Jul 21 '17 at 21:21
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I would suggest you to get to a shop, where the worker is a runner by him/herself.

I got my current running shoes ("saucony") from such a shop. You normally pay a little more, but the experience of a long distance runner, who has run him/herself is priceless.

For example (in my case) he investigated my old running shoes and said "oh yeah, you need shoes that prevent you from running on the outer foot". This is something I would not have known, and he knew only by looking at my old shoes.

A little hint: The more solid the ground you run on, the softer your shoe sole should be. A trail running shoe is most likely for soft forest ground, so keep away from them, they are far too hard.

I would highly recommend to get a proper guidance by a professional runner.

EDIT:

JohnP pointed out some great articles about the shock absorption of shoes, regardless of price and brand, etc. However, I still think, that a professional runner can get you a shoe that (at least partly) corrects your feet posture an running style (which I would not want to miss anymore). Thanks John!

  • Unless you are specifically only on grass or soft dirt trail, you will not notice a difference. A single person cannot generate enough force to notice the different deflections in paved surfaces. Any perceived difference between concrete, macadam, asphalt, etc. us just that, personal perception. – JohnP Jul 22 '17 at 0:15
  • @JohnP That may be, but I think that there is a reason for so many different kinds of shoes, so better get a professional take on the issue – Do Re Jul 24 '17 at 6:12
  • The reason for so many types of shoes is marketing hype. Find a comfortable shoe for either road or off road, and possibly correct for pronation/supination. The rest is just marketing, seriously. – JohnP Jul 24 '17 at 21:27
  • @JohnP Well, this is mostly what I am saying as well... Anyway, do you have any evidence for your claims? I would like to read a serious article, maybe an academic paper about the issue? – Do Re Jul 25 '17 at 6:09
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    bjsm.bmj.com/content/43/3/… and journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/036354658501300406. The 2nd talks specifically abt shock absorbtion, and notes no difference in brand or model. – JohnP Jul 26 '17 at 20:46

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