by Bob "Wish" Wischnia on July 21, 2011
What is the best brand of running shoes?
Understandably, we are a bit biased and believe strongly that Mizuno offers the best quality, best fitting, performing brand of running shoes. But the reality is there isn’t any single best brand that works for every runner. Not even Mizuno. All the leading manufacturers make high quality running shoes. Certainly, some are better than others but the shoe which works best for you might be an entirely different brand and model that your running buddy wears. So when shopping for a new pair of running shoes, don’t limit yourself to a certain brand or even model. (But we hope you’ll try on a pair of Mizunos.)
I don’t know anything about running shoes. How can I find the best shoe for me?
The best way is to go to a reputable store which specializes in running and only running. Once there, consult with a running-shoe expert to find the absolute best shoe for you. An expert will assist you in finding the shoe which fits your feet the best as well as suits your biomechanical and training needs. Even if you don’t know what those needs are, an expert can evaluate you and match you with the best shoe for you. If you don’t know of a good running store in you area, ask a local runner. Or go to “Find a store” on this website for a running store near you which sells Mizuno shoes.
How much should I expect to spend?
Most good quality running shoes cost between $100 and $150. Some are less expensive and a few are even more expensive than that, but you can expect to find a great shoe in the $100-120 sweet spot. The more expensive shoes but tend to offer the latest technologies and more protection and support than the less expensive shoes.
I’m just a beginner. Can I pay less for shoes?
Sure, you can. But beginning runners need just as good a shoe as a more experienced runner. Probably better. Beginners are generally slower and may be even heavier than serious runners so they often need the best cushioning and support which is usually found in the higher priced shoes. Again, expect to pay between $100 and $150.
That still sounds like a lot of money. Why are some shoes so much more expensive than others?
Very sophisticated midsoles, support technologies and lightweight breathable mesh uppers tend to drive the price of a shoe up. Synthetic uppers are also expensive. Also all the shoe companies have top-of-the-line-shoes packed with all of that brand’s latest technologies.
When I was a kid, I ran in sneakers and did fine. Do I really need a running shoe?
Not if you don’t mind getting injured. We all ran in sneakers when we were young, but we used to listen to 8 tracks and cassettes and wore bell bottoms. Running is a great sport, but unless you wear the proper the shoe—specific to running—an injury is lurking right around the corner. Even wearing the proper shoesis no guarantee you’ll never get injured, but it will minimize the risk.
When you run, your feet will strike the ground approximately 1700 times per each mile. That’s a lot of pounding. Especially for bigger runners. The feet need to be cushioned and supported throughout the running gait. A shoe which doesn’t do the job—or is improperly fitted or not suited to your biomechanics—will put you at risk of injury.
What do you mean by ‘biomechanics’?
Simply put, biomechanics describes how you move. Runners are built differently and have different foot types and thus, move differently. The most common biomechanical problem among runners is overpronation?
Overpronation. Pronation is the distinctive collapse of your arch upon foot strike. That’s normal. That collapse—pronation--absorbs shock. What is not a good thing is overpronation. What that means is when your heel contacts the ground, your arch collapses or rolls inward too much. This is very common with well over 50 percent of the running population. If the foot isn’t properly support, overpronation creates a great deal of torque up from the foot into the lower leg, knee and often the hip. If that overpronation isn’t corrected by the proper shoes, you will likely suffer an injury such as shin splints, knee or hip soreness.
What’s the proper shoe for that?
There are two types of running shoes that are designed to limit the degree to which you pronate. They are called either stability or support shoes (the terms are synonymous) or motion-control shoes. Motion-control shoes are heavier and more rigid, but offer the greatest degree of support to reduce (or control) overpronation. Mizuno offers two top quality motion-control shoes: The Wave Alchemy and the Wave Nirvana. Both are recommended for severe overpronators and also for bigger, heavier runners with wide, flat feet. Stability or support shoes also offer good support to reduce overpronation (these are, in fact, the most common type of running shoes), but they aren’t as rigid or heavy as motion-control shoes. Mizuno’s best stability shoes are the Wave Inspire, Wave Nexus and Wave Nirvana. Mizuno further describes its support shoes as performance support (Wave Elixir), moderate support (Inspire and Nexus), maximum support (Nirvana) and moderate control (Alchemy).
Suppose I’m not heavy and don’t have overpronation issues. What then?
Then, consider yourself fortunate if you have what is considered a biomechanically efficient gait without any excessive foot motion. If that’s you, you can wear just about any type of shoe. But the best type of shoe for you is called either neutral, neutral cushioned or simply cushioned. This doesn’t mean the shoe is any more cushioned than another type of shoe such as a supportive shoe. What it means is the shoe is less rigid and more flexible which is ideal for the runner who doesn’t need extra support. Mizuno’s family of neutral shoes are the best and most comfortable in running. Mizuno describes its neutral training shoes as performance neutral (Wave Precision), moderate neutral (Wave Rider) and maximum neutral (Wave Creation, Wave Enigma and Wave Prophecy).
OK but I’m only planning to run on the treadmill. Do I still need a good running shoe?
Definitely. Running’s running and your body still goes through the same stresses and weight-bearing no matter where you do it. Treadmill running is a little easier on the body than road running, but you still need a good pair of technical running shoes.
What’s the most important factor in choosing a good pair?
Fit. If the shoe doesn’t fir your feet properly, it won’t work effectively for you. A good fit is absolutely critical. If it doesn’t fit well in the store, it won’t fit better at home.
I’m planning to run my first marathon. I just want to finish it and feel good about myself. Should I also buy a pair of racing shoes?
No, you don’t need a pair. Racing shoes are only for the very few runners at the front of the pack. You’re in it to finish the race and enjoy the experience. Racing shoes won’t make you run any faster.
If I don’t need racing shoes, should I just wear my normal running shoes that I used to train in for the race?
Sure. That will be fine. The only exception is if you are running a half-marathon or full marathon you should buy a new pair of trainers at least two weeks before the race. That will give you enough time to break them in before the race. Wearing a relatively new pair of shoes versus an older, worn out pair will ensure you have adequate cushioning and support during the longer races—when you need it the most.
I’m just a walker. Should I buy running shoes or walking shoes?
Running shoes. Running shoes are more flexible, cooler and more supportive than walking shoes. Running shoes are also generally more comfortable. Most good running stores sell running shoes to walkers. The Mizuno Wave Creation has proved to be a very popular walking shoe.