For many men, buying running shoes-also known as trainers-can be a frustrating, annoying, and sometimes expensive, experience. With all the options available, it can be difficult to determine what you need, particularly if it’s been a while since your last purchase of trainers.
The first thing to determine is what type of surface you plan to run the most on. If gnarly trails full of rocks, roots and other natural obstacles sound like your route of choice, then trail shoes are a must for you. The toughest trail shoes have rugged outsoles with gripping lugs and heavy-duty rock plates (which prevent pointy rocks from bruising your soles) along with a well-ventilated, easy-to-drain upper that keeps your feet dry. Stabilized uppers to aid in preventing twisted ankles are often found on these shoes. Pared-down versions of tough trail shoes are also available aplenty, and if you plan to run smoother trails, then these are perfect for you. These shoes are lighter and may feel less cumbersome, but may not provide adequate protection if you decide to go on a spur-of-the-moment mountain run.
The pared-down trail shoes can also be ideal for running on road surfaces (pavement and asphalt) during inclement weather. The increased gripping power of the outsole will prove handy if you find yourself running through rain or snow, or on the occasional grassy surface.
If you plan to only run paved surfaces, then road running shoes are the best choice for you.
Next, you need to determine if you want any sort of stability within the trainers. This can depend upon your foot type-those with flat arches may over-pronate, or roll the ankles inwards too much. Over-pronating can lead to injuries such as shin splints and calf pain. For this foot type, stability or motion-control shoes can stabilize the foot and ankle to offset the effects of over-pronation. High arches have the opposite problem-they under-pronate, which leads to stiffness and lack of flexibility in the ankle, of which a little bit is needed. To offset this, look for shoes with flexibility and cushioning. Neutral trainers are offered for those that are somewhere in the middle.
And speaking of cushioning-if you heel-strike when running, additional cushioning in the heel is very important. Those that land on the forefoot need more cushioning on the ball of the foot, and those that land mid-foot can get away with minimal cushioning all around.