Tanya Boyer, with Rocky Mountain Running & Triathlon Magazine, explains how to choose the right running shoe.
Let’s be honest ladies, how do you first judge a running shoe? By it’s looks, of course. If a shoe looks good, you will happily try it on. Choosing the wrong running shoe, however, is a sure way to injury. Shoes should not be selected based on just the color or style, rather purchase a shoe that will protect your feet, legs and body from the stress of running. Each time you take a stride and land, your body has to absorb two to three times your body weight. Every woman has a unique foot shape, individual biomechanics, and a varying amount of training and mileage. As such, the best running shoe for one woman may be much different than the best running shoe for her training partner. It takes experimentation with different brands and models to find a shoe that works for you.
The best advice we can give in choosing a running shoe is to head to a specialty running store where trained individuals can ask you questions, look at your foot, measure your foot, watch you run, and have you try on several different shoe options. They will determine, if you don’t know already, whether your foot overpronates (rolls inward) or supinates (rolls outward) and to what degree. And ultimately, they will assist in your final shoe selection.
Luckily, there are many options of stylish and functional running shoes to choose from. Thanks to BJ Christenson, a manager at Salt Lake Running Company, we found five great looking, functional, and relatively affordable running shoes for women.
STABILITY: Nike LunarGlide+
The Nike Lunar Glide+ is a little different than a traditional stability shoe which usually has a post on the inside part of the shoe to prevent over-pronation (an inward roll of the foot). This shoe is built on two different foams for a dynamic support system that responds to a runner’s changing stride, thus providing stability the entire length of the shoe without a post. As such, it can be worn by a runner looking for a stability or a neutral shoe. The LunarGlide is lightweight with both stability and cushion and is perfect for daily training runs or races. The shoe features a women’s specific bunion window that gives way for women needing TLC in the big toe area but doesn’t compromise the width of the shoe. The arch strap can also be adjusted to provide additional support. Runner’s World magazine named this shoe “Best Debut” in August 2009. MSRP: $100.
CUSHIONED SHOES: Mizuno Wave Creation
Cushioning is a measure of the length of time a shoe is able to provide shock absorption and cushioned shoes generally have the softest, or most cushioned, soles with maximum shock absorption. Generally, women who prefer cushioned shoes are those with high arches or those who weigh over 150 lbs. The downside to all the soft cushioning is a little extra weight in the shoe, and possibly a slower foot response because the foot gets “sunk” in the cushioning. The Mizuno Wave Creation was made with a lightweight and responsive midsole to eliminate that squishy, sunken foot and enhance take-off. The shoe is also made to be highly breathable and keep your feet cool via a complicated ventilation system, despite all the cushioning. All cushioned shoes will cost more than non-cushioned shoes. MSRP: $135
NEUTRAL SHOE: Asics Speed Star
Neutral running shoes are intended for a bio-mechanically efficient runner who does not need built-in stability. These shoes weigh less because there is no added post or extra cushioning. The Asics Speed Star, a shoe with a loyal fan club, is a neutral shoe but is also called a performance trainer and racer because it is lighter and more flexible for fast running. It can be worn for speed work, racing, or just daily training. The shoe is still comfortable and cushioned with a patented Solyte material, which is very lightweight and gives a good bounce-back. The asymmetrical lacing system follows the curve on the top of the foot to ensure a snug fit with less friction. MSRP: $89.
TRAIL SHOE: Brooks Cascadia
A trail shoe should be worn by runners who frequently run off-road. Trail shoes have great outsole traction and water-resistant qualities, and are slightly stiffer than a regular running shoe for better stability on uneven terrain. The Brooks Cascadia is one of the more popular trail shoes on the market. A special pivot posting system helps you maintain balance when standing and running on rough, rocky or steep trails. The patented Hydroflow cushioning works to reduce shock to the foot not matter the trail surface, and the rock shield system keeps rocks and debris out of your shoe. Even the tongue of this shoe was designed with that purpose in mind. The mesh upper in this shoe provides weather and water protection but remains breathable and comfortable. As bonus feature the Cascadia comes with a biodegradable midsole. MSRP: $100.
LOW PROFILE SHOE: Ecco Biom B
Barefoot running has generated a lot of hype lately, but can also be dangerous if not done correctly. Many shoe companies have introduced barefoot-type shoes to encourage the more natural, upright running mechanics. Ecco, probably not as well known as the other major shoe manufacturers, is a Danish company that launched a performance line eight years ago. The Biom was built to be consistent on the natural movement of the foot. The sole is made of polyurethane rather than the traditional foam materials. Polyurethane is a very durable, very lightweight and very flexible material. Runners must be cautious and start slow with this shoe, in fact, the company has recommended a six week break-in period. While this shoes costs more up-front, at nearly $200, it will last for 1200-1400 miles, depending on your weight and foot strike, whereas regular running shoes will only get you 300-500 miles. MSRP: $195.