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Gear Up With Running Shoes

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NIKE Running shoes

Today our topic: “Gear Up With Running Shoes” Finding the best-fitting shoe among the numerous choices at your local running store isn’t always easy. To ensure you walk out a happy customer, you need to make sure the shoe fits properly from heel to toe and that it feels comfortable with your regular running stride. The same goes for shopping online. Most retailers will offer a risk-free trial period so you can still lace up your shoes and head out for a test run like you would at the store. (Just double-check the return policy, and always keep the box in case you do need to send them back or swap sizes.) Whether you’re buying your first pair or your fiftieth, browsing online or in-person, we’re here to help. Hope you will be benefited from Gear Up With Running Shoe content.

Gear Up With Running Shoes


Before you even put your foot in a new pair of running shoes, it’s helpful to know all the little details of the shoes that will be with you over the next several hundred miles, along with what to expect during the shoe-buying process. Finally, take a look at our favourite shoes right now in your favourite categories, from most cushioned to the best for the trails.

What Need To See In Running Shoes?


Everything above the sole. Traditionally made with layers of fabrics and mesh sewn and glued together, modern models increasingly use knitting and 3D printing to create one-piece uppers that stretch and support inappropriate places.

What to look for: An upper that is shaped like your foot and smooth wherever it touches, not binding or chafing anywhere.

Ankle Collar

The wrap at the top of the shoe opening holds the heel down in place. Some shoes use thick padding while others rely more on the shape.

What to look for: Pay attention to whether your heel slips, how the padding interacts with the bones on the side of your ankles, and whether the curve on the back irritates your Achilles tendon.

Heel Counter

A semi-rigid cup layered inside the rearfoot that cradles and supports your heel. Some shoes have an external heel wrap that serves a similar function while minimalist shoes have eliminated the heel counter to allow full freedom of movement.

NIKE Running shoes


Research has shown that heel counters do not provide motion control, but they do centre the heel for stable landings and support.

What to look for: A heel that allows a comfortable ankle motion.


The reinforced area around the instep—the arch of a person’s foot between the ball and the ankle—interacts with the laces to hold the shoe securely on the foot. Designers have developed a variety of overlays, eyelets, and lacing systems to mould the saddle closely to any foot shape.

What to look for: Pay attention to how the saddle fits and holds your foot, providing a secure feeling with no slippage while allowing for the natural doming of the arch during your stride.


All of the upper from the front of the eyelets to the end of the shoe. Often capped with a reinforced toe bumper that holds the fabric off your toes and protects from stubbing, particularly in trail shoes.

What to look for: A toebox that stays out of the way, allowing your foot to flex and spread out naturally in both width and length without binding or rubbing your toes.


Where the rubber meets the road. Often made of a variety of rubber or foam compounds placed in strategic areas to increase wear life or enhance bounce or flexibility.

What to look for: Materials that provide traction and durability without adding excess weight or stiffness, and for a footprint shape that matches yours and gives you the desired level of stability underfoot.

Flex Grooves and Toe Spring

To make the shoe bend like your foot bends, many shoes use grooves under the ball of the foot. Turning the toe up, called toe spring, or cutting away the midsole into a rocker pattern also allows the foot to roll through the stride. Small differences in location or angle can alter the mechanics and feel, and what degree of flex works best for your stride as it changes with speed.

What to look for: A shoe that flexes or rolls the way your foot wants to move—at the pace for which you’ll be using the shoes.


The foam material between the outsole and the upper, designed to cushion the runner from impact forces and guide the foot through the stride.

NIKE Running shoes


What to look for: A midsole thickness and material that feels right at running speeds, neither too soft nor too firm and without excess weight.

Heel Cushioning

Midsole material designed to minimize the impact shock of a heel strike. Besides using a variety of cushioning materials, some shoes feature a softer “crash pad” area on the outer edge of the foot or a rounded outer heel to smooth the landing. Research has shown that the body provides the majority of cushioning for your joints and that you land harder in a more cushioned shoe, so heel cushioning is largely a matter of perceived comfort.

What to look for: A balance between cushioning, stability, and ground feel, and note whether the shoe touches down where you expect it to and rolls into the stride a way that feels right.

Forefoot Cushioning

The midsole material is designed to reduce the impact of the largest forces of the stride that occur at forefoot loading and push off. While body mechanics largely provide cushioning to everything above the ankle, forefoot shoe cushioning protects the structures of the foot. The promise of new “energy-return” materials and designs is that they can both protect and propel your foot.

What to look for: Pay attention to the shoe’s responsiveness, looking for a balance between cushioning comfort and a firm push-off platform.

Heel-Toe Drop

The difference in height between your heel and the ball of your foot when standing in the shoe. Experts disagree on the importance of drop related to injuries but agree that changing drop distributes forces differently to the foot and leg, and can alter your stride.

What to look for: A shoe that feels right throughout the stride, from touchdown to toe-off, and reduces stress on any weak parts of your foot.

Stabilizing Features

Designers use a variety of technologies (such as medial posts, dual-density foams, varus wedges, guide rails, and wider shoe geometries) to try to keep the foot from excessive motion, primarily over-pronation or rolling inward. Scientists agree that most people do not need pronation correction, but control and stability devices appear to help some runners maintain their preferred movement path.


What to look for: A shoe that allows your foot to move comfortably and naturally through the stride, with the shoe providing stability as support, not correction.


The removable pad of foam inside the shoe cushions the contours of the bottom of your foot. The sock liner, along with shoe geometry, provides most of what people refer to as “arch support” and gives the shoe its initial step-in comfort.

What to look for: Pay attention to how the shoe feels on the run, where softer is not always better and the foot works dynamically to provide its own support and cushioning.

Avoid Common Shoe-Buying Mistakes

Speciality running store staffers see runners making the same mistakes again and again when they come in to buy shoes. But not you, not anymore, thanks to this advice from five prominent store owners and managers.

Mistake #1: Buying for looks. “Some runners are too concerned with fashion, and we try and steer people away from that. Often, when they get a shoe that looks cool, they end up coming back in a few months and saying, ‘This shoe hurts me. I had a problem with it.’ When you buy, think feel and fit, not fashion.”—Bryan Mahon, Philadelphia Runner (Philadelphia, PA)


Mistake #2: Not asking for deals. “When you’re ready to pay, ask if there are any discounts available for running club members. Most specialty stores offer discounts from 10 to 20 percent; we offer 10 percent to our local track club. It costs $20 to join it, so if you buy two pairs of shoes, your track membership is paid for.”—Tim Rhodes, Run For Your Life (Charlotte, NC)


Mistake #3: Buying shoes that are too small. “Tight-fitting shoes lead to blisters and black toenails and that kind of thing. Women in particular are used to wearing their shoes close-fitting, as they’re often more self-conscious about the size of their feet. We like to say, ‘Play the piano with your toes,’ meaning the fit should be roomy enough in the forefoot—about half an inch—but not sloppy.”—Mike Johnson, Road Runner Sports (San Diego, CA)


Mistake #4: Shopping at the wrong time of day. “A lot of times people come in the morning and say, ‘This is the shoe I need.’ Then they’ll come back the next day and say, ‘I wore them at 5 p.m. and they were too small.’ Your feet start swelling in the morning and they don’t stop until about 4 p.m. That’s as big as they’re going to get, so always buy your shoes in the evening.”—Tish Borgen, Running Room (Minneapolis, MN)


Mistake #5: Assuming your size. “People assume that a size is a size—that an 8 in a Nike will be the same as an 8 in a New Balance. But sizes differ because of different lasts (foot forms), the different shape of the upper, and the way the shoe is stitched together. Have your feet measured every time you buy, and always try the shoes on for fit.”—Johnny Halberstadt, cofounder of the Boulder Running Company (Boulder, CO)


Types of Shoes

Running Shoes

The selections below are all of our Editors’ Choice selections from our most recent shoe guides. We chose the following top models based on extensive feedback from runners as well as test results from the RW Shoe Lab. (Find more of our favourite shoes for any type of run here.)

Cushioned Shoes

The shoes shown here undeniably popped in the cushy department, more so than any other category, in both our lab and the wear tests. (Find more cushioned running shoes.)


These road and trail shoes floated to the top of our lab data charts for weight as the lightest shoes in the bunch.


Our wear-testers raved about how effortless the miles felt in these picks, and they loved the sensation of not being weighed down. (Find more lightweight running shoes.)

Stability Shoes

A stable experience feels as though the shoe perfectly braces your foot while guarding against the extra motion that can cause injury. These stability running shoes are rock-solid picks for feeling secure. (Find more stability running shoes.)

Trail Shoes

When you’re going off-road, it’s important to have shoes designed with extra traction and durability. The following shoes have been named our top picks after rigorous testing on our own trails. (Check out more of our favourite trail shoes.)

Some Final Tips:

Gear Up With Running Shoes: 

  • It’s best to go to a speciality running shop (not a big-box or department store) where a salesperson can watch you run and help you select a pair of shoes that offer your feet the support they need.
  • You may think you know your size, but it’s best to get your feet measured each time you buy new shoes. Your feet change over time, and one model’s fit can be drastically different from another’s.
  • When you go shopping, take along the shoes, socks, and any inserts that you’ve been using. That way you can make a realistic evaluation of how well the new shoe will fit your feet.
  • Shoes should be replaced every 300 to 500 miles. Keep track of the date that you bought them in your training log.


In conclusion, Gear Up With Running Shoes. Now that you know what you’re looking for in a running shoe, it’s time to get out there and buy a pair. We review hundreds of shoes every year here at Runner’s World, so we’ve compiled the best shoes for all types of runners and preferences. 

Hope you have got much valuable information from the Gear Up With Running Shoe content.

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