Do The Shoes You Wear For Running Actually Matter?

AD Whether you are looking to start 'couch to 5k’ or you are regularly going for a jog you might be wondering how important it is to have proper running trainers. The short answer is: your choice of trainers matter. Running shoes help protect your body, they feel more comfortable while running and they support you to give your best performance. Read on to find out what difference women’s running trainers make and what makes one pair of trainers better for running than another.

A pair of dirty, worn, running trainers
Do you need to have running trainers for running?

What Makes A Trainer Suitable For Running?

While the first rubber soled leisure shoes were developed in the 19th Century it was during the mid 20th Century that they started to become really popular. Originally designed for sports, trainers now range from high fashion masterpieces to scientifically designed essential kit for athletes. While fashion items just need to look great a good running trainer should have cushioning, grip and durability while providing support and stability. You might be fine in any shoe for a short distance, but for regular running it’s important to get the right sort of trainer.

There isn’t just one type of running shoe though and it’s equally important to choose the right style for where you plan to run:
  • If you want to run on trails eg dirt tracks, rocky terrain and other off road running then you should choose womens trail running shoes which have better grip and a more sturdy upper section. The deeper lugs (or tread) help grip muddy areas, stopping you slipping and the reinforced footwear tends to be more durable.
  • If you prefer to run on roads (or pavement) you will want to focus on cushioning and support to protect your joints and your feet as they repeatedly hit the hard surface.
  • If you prefer to run inside on a treadmill then the upper support and grip is less important as you are running on a level surface with some give. For the gym lightweight, breathable trainers will be ideal.
  • Track running shoes for sprinting are again very different and have grips (spikes) specifically designed for these surfaces.

While there is a lot of variation between running trainers depending on where you plan to run it is important they are designed for running and most importantly they fit your feet well.

Why Wear Running Trainers?

Support and Protection

When you love running it can be incredibly frustrating to get an injury as this means weeks (or longer) without being able to train. Injuries can happen from accidents (eg slipping) or repetitive motion, but running trainers can help prevent both of these. The cushioning in the shoes absorbs the shockwaves from hitting the floor repeatedly reducing the impact on joints, the support can keep your feet and ankles in a more comfortable position and the right sole for the running surface will help traction and running efficiency.

Comfort and Fit

It may seem like there are a million different styles of running shoes which can be a little overwhelming, but this is about more than appealing to fashion and style, it means that you can find the perfect fit for your feet. It’s not just the size of our feet that differs, but the width, position and size of arch and how we place our feet (pronation).

Don’t be afraid to try on different pairs to get the best fit for you. What might feel like a minor discomfort in the shop can lead to blisters or worse after running a few kilometres. Remember to try them on with the socks you are going to wear for running as this will affect their fit too.

Improved Performance

There is a big price range of running trainers even from the same brand and this reflects the level of design and the materials used to get the perfect shoe. This is not a time to be looking for a low price “dupe”. The higher end trainers normally offer better stability, traction and durability. For the occasional run you might not notice the difference, but if you are thinking of marathon training, regular runs or getting competitive the investment in better trainers can make a big difference.

Last The Distance

Well designed running trainers are designed to cover the distance. You might not be marathon training but even 5km twice a week is over 500km a year so it soon adds up. Good running trainers are built for durability, but you need to look after them properly to help them last.

Tips for Trainer Care

  • To keep running shoes in the best condition make sure they get a chance to dry out and air after a run, so no chucking them straight in your kit bag and leaving them for days. Undo the laces and leave them in shape ie not squashed.
  • If you run regularly you might want to rotate between a couple of pairs of trainers. Having two pairs can give them a chance to recover between runs. It is especially useful when there is wet weather as it gives one pair a chance to dry out fully before you next wear them.
  • It’s important to replace trainers when they get worn. If the grip gets too worn for instance you are more likely to slip and get hurt. As the cushioning gets old you may notice you get less support and develop some joint pain. How often your running trainers need replacing will depend on factors including: your weight, how far you run and the conditions you run in so check your trainers regularly and don’t leave it too long.
  • It can be appealing to wear a comfortable pair of running trainers all the time, but if you want them to last it’s worth keeping them just for running.

So having specific running trainers is just as important as choosing a good running bra if you plan to run regularly. Wearing trainers designed for running will make you more comfortable, help prevent injuries and can improve your performance so it’s worth investing in a pair.

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