Posted in Run
Man running by a wall and his shadow is visible in image

Running shoes explained

Running shoes are one of the core pieces of equipment in anyone's sports locker, be they athlete, runner, cyclist, gym rat or even country walker. No matter what you use them for, it's likely that you have one or more pairs. This versitility works both ways - whilst the right pair for you is out there, it can be a little difficult to find exactly what you need. This running shoe guide will help you to chose exactly what's best for you. We'll take you through the different types of run disciplines and runner profiles before looking at some of the running shoe types and the different qualities of the various materials used to construct them.

What is your foot type? 

A key part of finding the correct running shoe is to understand your foot anatomy. There are three basic foot types each based on the height of your arches, have a look at the Wiggle video below to find your foot type.

Run disciplines

Long distance running requires footwear that protects the runner from injury and also helps optimise the runner’s forward speed. A good road and general purpose running shoe is ideal for long distance running. These shoes have excellent shock absorption and support. It’s also essential that your chosen running shoe is durable and comfortable.

Marathon running is one of the most popular forms of racing for many intermediate and advanced runners. The race itself covers a distance of 26.2 miles and requires high levels of mental toughness, aerobic and muscular conditioning.

Recreational running can be described as running for fun or leisure, and this type of running is often favoured by beginners. It’s the perfect introduction to running, as literally anyone can take part in it regardless of age, fitness or ability level. Running for fun helps promote a healthy lifestyle and can also help shift excess body weight. It increases the amount of endorphins in the body and as a result reduces levels of stress and plays a major role in relaxing the mind and body.

Trail running involves running on outdoor trails, hills, and off road surfaces. It is a form of adventure running and running in natural terrain requires a specific trail running shoe. Trail running shoes need exceptional grip and durability to cope with the demands of running on trails that can consist of rocks, mud, roots and clay. A thick sole protects the trail runner from injury and also increases stability and power transfer when the foot strikes the ground.

Run profiles

Beginner runners

  • Many beginners are interested in running for the health benefits such as losing weight and improving their overall aerobic fitness.
  • If you’ve not been inactive for a long period it’s a good idea to visit your local GP before you start. The key to starting out is to build up your strength and stamina gradually. Sometimes beginners lose their enthusiasm for running by over exerting themselves early on.
  • Run training shoes (multi-purpose sports shoes) are perfectly suited for beginners as they provide cushioning, durability and support for a wide variety of run activities.

Intermediate runners

  • Intermediate runners have usually been running for several years and regularly run up to 30 miles per week.
  • Many intermediate level runners run for fitness but a significant amount are also interested in racing and the vast majority will have completed at least one Marathon race.
  • It’s quite common for runners at this level to follow a structured training program, which involves completing more training workouts at a higher volume and intensity than that of a beginner.

Advanced runners

  • Advanced runners usually have over three years experience and regularly run up to 40 miles per week.
  • They have significant experience of racing on a variety of different levels such as Marathons, Ultra-marathons and short races.
  • They train with greater volume and intensity than intermediates. There is more emphasis placed on the psychological aspect of running as well as speed work, strength conditioning, interval training to avoid plateaus.

Shoe Construction

Upper: This is the material that encases your foot and depending on the shoe style, helps promote a secure fit. Materials can differ greatly from light fabric to dense layered fabrics designed to repel water.

Midsole: This area of the shoe will most certainly be a foam material, namely EVA or Polyurethane foam. The midsole sits in-between the upper and outsole of the shoe. The purpose of the midsole is to provide protection from impact when running and encasing a manufacturer’s technologies. For example, Nike shoes have dynamic support technology to help improved cushioning on impact.

Outsole: This is the part of the shoe that makes contact with the ground surface. Depending on the shoe's purpose, the traction can differ greatly. If you are wearing an off road shoe, you'll notice the outsole is far wider and has larger groves to help support your running through uneven surfaces.

Run shoe categories

Cushion running shoes

These running shoes offer a good blend of cushioning, medial support (to limit excessive inward rolling of the foot, which can cause injury) and durability. They provide stability and often have a medial post or dual-density midsole - these are features that provide a firmer density under the inner edge of your foot. You should buy these if you’re a mid-weight runner who doesn't have any severe motion control problems and wants a shoe with some medial support and good durability.

Please select a price point thats's suitable for your budget.

Asics Gel-Kayano 19 Shoes stability running blue white yellow


Stability running shoes

These are ideal if you're an "overpronator" who needs control features and places a premium on durability or you wear orthoses (sculpted shoe inserts).Want a firm midsole and deep heel counter. You're a heavy runner who needs extra durability and stability.

Please select a price point thats's suitable for your budget.

Saucony Progrid Stabil CS 2 running Shoes  white silver royal blue


Racing shoes

These are ultra-lightweight, built on a curved last and stripped of the majority of cushioning and stability features found on most training shoes.

Generally, the lighter the shoe, the more minimal the design. You should choose these if you’re a fast, elite runner concerned predominantly with weight.

Please select a price point thats's suitable for your budget.

Adidas Adizero Adios 2 running racing Shoes yellow black


Training shoes

These running shoes are designed to offer great versatility across a wide variety of sports. They can be best described as a multi-purpose sports shoe. They meet the basic comfort, stability and cushioning requirements demanded by most sporting disciplines. Their durable design makes them heavier than standard running shoes. They don’t have the cushioning or support for use on a sustained run program.

Please select a price point thats's suitable for your budget.

Inov-8 F-Lite 262 training running Shoes red and black


Trail running shoes

These shoes offer increased outsole traction and uppers with toe bumpers and reinforced stitching for more durability. These shoes often have less cushioning than a road shoe because they're designed for softer surfaces.
You should choose Trail running shoes if you do a lot of off-road running and need shoes with extra traction, more durable uppers and extra protection from the terrain.

Please select a price point thats's suitable for your budget.

Salomon Ladies Speedcross 3 CS trail off-rode running Shoes  lime black pink