Shopping for Kicks – How to Choose the Best Running Shoe for You

One of my favorite things about the sport of running is simply that you can Shoe on Grasslace up your shoes and run out the door. You don’t need large machines that take up a third of your living room (along with other various forms of fitness equipment) or even a gym membership. You just put one foot in front of the other.

So, let’s talk shoes and how to pick the right shoes for you.

 

Tips for Buying Running Shoes

Although stereotypical, women do love shoes! We like colors and wearing shoes that are unique. Running shoes are no exception to being fashionable and shoe designs never cease to get me excited about dropping some cash. However, my number one tip when choosing the best pair of running shoes is to go for how they fit you over how they look on you.

Shoe Colors

In addition, always buy a half size to a full size bigger than your foot measures. I learned this the hard way when looking down at a black toe nail on my right big toe after completing my second marathon. That’s when I learned about “runner’s toe” and the consequences of poorly fitted shoes.

This may sound strange, but something to keep in mind is that trying shoes on at the store at different times of day could make a difference in how they feel to you. So, I recommend that you only try on a potential pair of new kicks at the store in the evening to account for the natural way your feet swell after a typical day of activities. You want a shoe that fits you well no matter what time of day.

Discover Your Style

The more informed you are about the actual shoe design, the better you will be at purchasing running shoes you will love to wear. I will explain the basic anatomy of a running shoe and how to pay attention to the foot-shoe relationship when choosing the right shoes for you.

Framework of Shoes

Upper—The part of the shoe that covers the entire foot and encompasses the shoe waist which curves along the foot. Red ShoePick a shoe that is the same shape as your foot and a waist that feels smooth on all sides where your foot meets the material.

Collar—This is the circle opening for your foot to slip into the shoe. The material used differs between brands and styles. Some are soft and fuzzy, and others may be silky and smooth. There are three points of contact to consider where your ankle meets the ankle collar.

 

  1. The heel should not slip at all when you walk.
  2. The sides should fit comfortably and cushion your ankle bones.
  3. The curve up the back of the ankle should not irritate your Achilles tendon.

Counter—The back part of the shoe that surrounds the heel to center your foot for support when you land. It is best if the material feels comfortable and be the same shape as your foot. Women do tend to have narrower heels than men and many women’s shoes account for this; therefore, if the heel counter feels tight or loose, you should try another shoe style rather than go up or down in size or try the equivalent men’s shoe size.

Overlays—The top of the shoe around the foot arch that surrounds the lace cage and tongue. The material is often reinforced in this area but should not irritate your foot at all. The overlays should feel secure and provide the right amount of space for your foot arch.

Toe Box—The reinforced end of the shoe that houses the toes and protects from stubbing. The toe box should allow for your toes to spread naturally as you move and of course be long enough that your toes do not touch the end of the shoe.

Outsole—The bottom of the shoe where the rubber meets the road, essentially. Like the fabric parts of the shoe, you want a sole that matches your foot shape. There are many foam and rubber designs on the shoe outsoles to choose from that provide grip, stability, and mobility. The outsole should feel balanced.

Midsole—The foam between the outsole and upper parts of the shoe. Its purpose is to cushion the foot from impact. Midsole thicknesses vary as does runner preference. Choose a shoe with a midsole that is not too stiff and does not add extra weight to the shoe.

Women Running ShoeSock Liner—The removeable pad inside the shoe that cushions your foot. This should move dynamically with the geometry of your foot and support your foot arch.

Heel—The cushioning section just under the heel. Look for a good balance between cushion, stability, and if your heel rolls right for you.

Heel toe drop—The difference in height between the heel and toe when standing. The heel toe drop can alter your stride, so I recommend taking a few laps around the store specifically for this element. The shoe needs to feel natural through your stride from touch down to push off.

Forefoot—The cushioning section under the toe box. You want a shoe that provides cushion and stability for the push off.

Flex Grooves—The grooves on the midsole under the toe box to allow spring during foot motion. Choose shoes that allow your feet to move naturally.

Let Your Feet Do the Talking

WalkingAllow yourself time an hour or so to try on several pairs of shoes. The associate helping you should ask you your running goals and bring you at least 5 different brands of shoes based on your answers. With every pair that feels comfortable, jog a few laps around the store.

Even if you have an immediate connection with a great shoe, go through your mental checklist that you feel comfortable in every part of the shoe. After you choose the best running shoes for you, take them for a run!

Benefits of Running for Women – For Your Body, Mind, and Soul

We’ve all heard the phrase, “Running is bad for the knees.” I experienced knee injuries in high school from Morning Runyears of dance training and used this phrase as an excuse, yes, an excuse, to avoid running.

The truth is that this statement has never been scientifically proven! In fact, there are so many reasons to run and benefits of running that we should all get moving more often. Let me outline some main benefits I have found to be quite amazing.

Body – Physical Benefits of Running

The leading causes of death in the world are cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks and strokes. Running is quite arguably one of the best ways to exercise your cardiovascular system and promote a healthy heart. This does not mean you need to hit the pavement or treadmill for hours to strengthen your heart or that you need to be the fastest runner. Just ten minutes of low impact jogging per day will positively impact your long-term health.

Beach Running

It is a myth that running is bad for your knees (or hips or ankles or elbows)! It is a fact that running will strengthen your bones and muscles; in addition, running will also strengthen your cartilage that cushions your joints and increase flexibility in your ligaments to prevent injury.

Now, let me emphasize some physical benefits that are greatly enticing for us women.

Healthy-looking skin!! Running increases blood circulation which can alleviate those ugly varicose veins. And, it tightens the skin so we say goodbye to cottage cheese thighs! Also, a good sweat unclogs pores and detoxifies the body providing us with the healthy “glow.”

Sleep! Some may argue that runners sleep better simply because they have exhausted their muscles and burned hundreds of calories. Woman SleepingTo be fair to this argument, I know that I have experienced those days myself. However, women are multi-taskers and to be so, our minds are constantly stimulated which means some of us just have a hard time settling our mind down for the night. A good run promotes mindfulness similar to meditation so we can cognitively bookmark our to do lists and enjoy a restful sleep.

Oh yeah, eating chocolate is recommended! I once had a coach tell me that I should drink chocolate milk after a long run; milk, for the protein and calcium…chocolate, for the taste. Come to find out much later that chocolate has great muscle recovery benefits and antioxidants that reduce stress. Sounds like a win-win scenario!!

Mind – Mental Benefits of Running

I went through a few very tough years in my adulthood. I left behind a faith I had practiced all my life and soon after went through a divorce while also raising a toddler. Needless to say, there were several moments of anger, confusion, desperation, Mountain Stretchfear, sadness, loneliness, and a broken heart. The only thing that would give me clarity and balance was going for a run and escape.

It’s nearly impossible to run and cry or feel sorry for yourself at the same time, and it’s no wonder runners often say that they go for a run to clear their head. Neuroscientists have proven that vigorous aerobic activity, such as running, sends extra oxygen and blood flow to the part of the brain that manages concentration, creativity, and decision-making. A mental benefit of running is essentially, a brain boost!

Most runners don’t run for health reasons. They run because they find it enjoyable and they want the “runner’s high” that makes them feel so good. For me, the dream to lose weight from running died a long time ago. It is just a bonus when I lose a few pounds in the process. When I feel the runner’s high, I feel accomplished and focused and sometimes I feel invincible!

Soul – Emotional Benefits of Running

Runners of all shapes, colors and sizes are a community! I could be running around my neighborhood or along the bike trail and I always pass other runners who wave or smile or give a friendly nod. A little human contact and positive energy is great for your soul.

On race day, most runners are not there to be competitive with each other, they are there for the social experience and the accomplishment (a.k.a. the t-shirt and medal). Running alongside hundreds to thousands of runners is so much fun! High fives and thumbs up signals from complete strangers are quite Woman Stretchingfrankly some reasons I keep signing up for races. I want to be around the people that truly “get” me.

Running builds character and confidence. It’s one of the few sports where your competition is yourself. Runners are always tracking their times, distance, and pace and aiming for their PR (personal record). During the process, we are reminded to be patient because it takes time and effort and commitment to build muscle and endurance or recover from an injury. We are constantly reminded to be humble as we watch other runners run faster or longer than we can. As we progress in our running and attaining our goals, we create our best selves within our souls.

Motivation – Get Inspired

You are obviously interested in running if not already a runner or you wouldn’t be reading this entire article. However, it is very important that you determine your WHY; your purpose to do what you are doing and to keep doing it.

One of my favorite quotes is “It doesn’t get easier, you just get better”. BalanceRunning will test your limits physically, mentally, and emotionally but that is how we grow. Limitations only exist if you allow them.

No matter your pace or strength, those 5-, 10-, or 20-mile training runs physically break you down and challenge you mentally. Running can be monotonous and boring as you repeat the same motion one step after another until you reach your finish.

Whether you run for 10 minutes a day or a couple hours each week, find your motivation, and I promise that you will reap the many benefits of running in your body, mind, and soul.

About Carrie

Hi there! Welcome to Marathon Running!

Running has been a passion of mine for 10 years. Over the years, I have sought out as much information as I could to become a better runner from advice on apparel, tech gear, training schedules, cross training, nutrition, and even body science.

My friends and colleagues often ask me about running, which I love talking about, so I decided it was time to share my passion with a larger audience.

MY STARTING LINE

I have been athletic my entire life. Growing up in the 80’s, I got around like everyone else did via bicycles, scooters, rollerblading and running! I’ll be honest though, running was my least favorite because I just was not very good at it. I played soccer and softball, danced, water skied and snowboarded but no running outside of gym class.

It wasn’t until college that the spark of interest occurred when I watched my roommate train for her first Ironman Triathlon. She followed her training schedule and nutrition to a tee while also going to classes, studying, and working part-time. She was the epitome of inspiration.

Eventually, I joined a gym so that I could run on a treadmill, but I soon realized I was getting myself into more than just running.

 

MY RUNNING LIFE

I became serious about running after my daughter was born. I wanted to lose the baby weight as most new mothers do. By the time I reached my weight goal, I was getting hooked on the running euphoria and I needed another goal. So, I signed up for a local 5K. That 5K was amazing! I wasn’t the fastest by any means but being immersed in the culture and endorphins of such positive and happy people truly ignited my passion.

Since then, I have completed numerous 5K’s and 10K’s, 2 Spartan trifectas, 3 half marathons, and 2 full marathons.

MY RACE

Being a runner is a lifestyle and you become part of a community. You will have more running shoes than you know what to do with and you will get upset if your GPS watch pauses during a run. It just means that you are a runner too!

Please look around my website and if you have anything to add to the content or questions, I would love to hear it.

To progress every day!

Carrie

carrie@marathonwomen.com