How to Pick the Right Shoe for Any Activity

shoes

The fitness industry has seen unprecedented growth during the past decade, and chances are good that running is no longer our only athletic activity. 

In fact, runners often walk, bike, hike, cross-train, lift weights or participate in boot camp, yoga, HITT, CrossFit or any other number of classes during a typical week. And though you may be tempted to streamline your closet by wearing the same pair of shoes for everything, choosing the right shoe for each activity will not only help you get more out of your workout, it can also prevent injury and extend the life of your footwear. 

Would you wear a pair of ballet shoes to play soccer? Of course not. Believe it or not, it makes no more sense to wear a pair of long distance daily trainers for a hardcore HIIT session.

The perfect shoe is specific to you and your chosen activity, but it can be tough to sort through the hundreds of shoe options out there. Luckily, there is an easy way to cut through all the noise.

Road Runner Sports offers both online and in-store fitting it calls ShoeDog. Taking into account your physiological profile, preferences and activity, the online tool will help "fetch" the perfect shoe for runners who prefer the convenience of shopping from the sofa. But, for those willing and able to visit one of Road Runner Sports’ 41 locations, a ShoeDog gait analysis can be performed in just 10 minutes, taking the individual analysis far more in-depth. 

Here are a few tips to help you choose the right type of shoe for whatever training session you have planned.  

Road Running Shoes

Size, gender, arch type, mileage and cushioning level are all part of Shoe Dog's algorithm for finding you the perfect running shoe. A good road running shoe will be supportive for your specific body type, with the ability to withstand the mileage you plan to run. Your perfect shoe will also take into account the type of road running you intend to do. Are you a marathoner or just shooting for your first 5K? If you rack up the miles, you'll want to select a shoe that will hold up over the long haul. Your personal preferences for cushion and responsiveness should be taken into account as well.  

A lighter shoe means that your body does less work on race day.

The profile (heel-to-toe drop) and weight of the shoe can also provide some guidance as to how responsive the shoe may be. Lighter, lower profile shoes may feel more responsive, while more cushioned shoes tend to be slightly heavier with a higher profile. You may even want to select two pairs—one heavily cushioned option for your recovery or long run days and one lighter option for your speed work or track sessions. 

Utilizing the descriptions and reviews of the shoes can help you make your final decision. And don't forget to order at least a half-size to a full-size up from what you normally wear, as your feet swell when you run.

Racing Shoes

There's nothing better than lacing up a pair of racing flats and knowing it's time to get it done. If you'll be racing quite a bit, you'll want to make sure you've got the perfect pair of shoes to propel you past the competition.

Racing flats are quite a bit (typically 3 to 4 ounces) lighter than regular trainers and usually feature less cushioning and a much lower profile. The general rule of thumb is that the shorter the race distance, the flatter, lighter shoe you can get away with—depending on how strong your legs and feet are and how often you've trained in minimal profile shoes. 

The race distance will make a difference in the level of cushioning you'll need as well. For a 5K, a racer may choose a more snug-fitting minimal flat, while a 10K or half marathon likely requires a roomier, more cushioned shoe.  

A lighter shoe means that your body does less work on race day, but it's crucial that you give yourself time to adjust slowly to wearing your flats, as they can stress your calves and feet. Practice wearing them for a few short, easy workouts and then gradually incorporate them into quality workouts as your body adjusts.

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