Running Shoe FAQs for Newbies

By the Mizuno Shoe Guy


Buying a new pair of running shoes can be a challenge for a new runner as there are so many urban myths and misinformation about shoes. That can certainly be a problem for a runner seeking out the best possible shoes, but if you don’t know where to start your search, allow me to be blunt:  The best, most reliable way to determine which running shoe is the perfect one for you is to go to a reputable store which specializes in running–and only running.


There is no substitute. If you don’t know a lot about shoes and/or are just starting out, to ensure you get the best possible pair of shoes, seek out a good running store. Once there, consult with one of the running-shoe experts who will assist you in finding the shoe which fits your feet the best as well as suits your biomechanical, training and racing needs.


If you are a newbie and have no idea what those needs are, a good running store sales associate can ask you the right questions, evaluate your needs (possibly by having you run on a treadmill) and match you with the best shoe for you. Almost all running stores have the widest possible selection of all the best shoes from all the major manufacturers. At least one of those shoes will fit your needs.


The importance of going to a good running store can’t be overemphasized. If you don’t know of one 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

Here, we ask answer (and answer) the most common running shoe questions from new runners:


What is the best brand of running shoes?


Understandably, we are a bit biased and strongly believe that Mizuno offers the best quality, best fitting, performance running shoes on the market. But the reality is there isn’t any single brand that works best for every runner. Not even Mizuno. All the leading manufacturers make high quality running shoes. Certainly, some shoes are better than others, but the one which works best for you might be an entirely different brand and model that your running friends wear. So when shopping for a new pair of running shoes, don’t limit yourself to a certain popular brand or even model. (But we hope you’ll try on a pair of Mizunos.)


I don’t know the first thing about running shoes. How can I find the right shoe for me?


Again, go to a running store and place your trust in the store staff to evaluate your running gait, form and needs and fit you in the proper shoe. Buying shoes online is fine for experienced runners who know the exact model and size they need, but not for newbies who simply don’t have the background to make an informed purchasing decision.T


How much should I expect to spend?


Running shoes are not inexpensive. Most good quality running shoes cost between $120 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 $120-$150 sweet spot. The more expensive shoes tend to offer the latest technologies and more cushioning 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 to protect against common running injuries.  Again, expect to pay between $120 and $150.


That still sounds like a lot of money. Why are some shoes so much more expensive than others?


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 state-of-the-art shoes packed with all of that brand’s latest technologies such as the Mizuno Wave Prophecy.


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 or whether you run on roads, dirt trails or a treadmill. Treadmill running is a little easier on the body than road running, but you still need a good pair of technical running shoes.


When I was a kid, I ran in sneakers and did just 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 vinyl records, used dial telephones 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 shoes is 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 (your individual biomechanics). A shoe, such as a basketball sneaker, won’t do the job and 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 gaits and thus, move differently. The most common biomechanical problem among runners is called overpronation.




Overpronation. Pronation is the distinctive collapse of your arch upon foot strike. That’s normal. That collapse—pronation–absorbs shock. Some pronation is fine. What is not good is too much pronation–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.


That sounds awful. What’s the proper type of shoe for that?


There is a specific types of running shoe that is designed to limit the degree to which you pronate. These shoes are called either stability or support shoes (the terms are synonymous). Mizuno offers two top excellent support shoes: The Wave Inspire 11 and the Wave Paradox. Both are recommended for overpronators. Severe overpronators and also bigger, heavier runners with wide, flat feet should try the Wave Paradox. The Inspire is also supportive, but it’s not as supportive as the Paradox. The Inspire is also lighter and more flexible than the Paradox.


Suppose I’m not heavy and don’t have overpronation issues. What then?


Consider yourself fortunate. Many runners have what is considered a biomechanically efficient gait without any excessive foot motion (no overpronation issues). 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 does mean is this type of 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: the Wave Rider, Wave Sayonara and three maximum cushioned gems, the Wave Creation, Wave Prophecy and Wave Enigma.



What’s the most important factor in choosing a good pair of running shoes?


Fit. If the shoe doesn’t fit your feet properly, it won’t work effectively. A good fit is absolutely critical. If the shoe doesn’t fit well in the store, it won’t fit better at home.


I’d like 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. Lightweight 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. Get the same exact model you have used for training. But give yourself enough time before the big race to break them in. Wearing a relatively new pair of shoes versus an older, worn out pair will ensure you have adequate cushioning and support during the latter stages of longer races—when you need it the most.


I’ve heard a lot about the advantages of wearing minimal shoes. Won’t these lighter shoes make me run faster and reduced the risk of injury?


Sorry, no. So-called minimal shoes are OK for a small segment of the experienced running population, but because these shoes are so light and have only a small amount of cushioning, I wouldn’t recommend a beginner start off in a pair. Beginners are much more likely to incur a running injury in this type of shoe due to lack of cushioning and support, rather than a conventional shoe which is designed to reduce the risk of injury.


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 or whether you run on roads, dirt trails or a treadmill. Treadmill running is a little easier on the body than road running, but you still need a good pair of technical running shoes.


I’m just a walker. Should I buy running shoes or walking shoes?


Running shoes. Running shoes are more flexible, comfortable and much more supportive than walking shoes. Running shoes are also generally cooler in warmer weather than walking shoes made with leather. Most good running stores sell running shoes to walkers. The Mizuno Wave Creation has proved to be a very popular walking shoe.



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