How to select the right running shoes?

This is not a trivial question, as I learned at my expenses: when I had to run my first half marathon in Berlin, I ignored a lot of things about training and running. One of the memories of the post-run celebration night, drinking Bavarian beer in a biergarden, is it was that I could barely walk as I had excruciating pain, especially on the external side of my left knee.

One of the natural consequences was to go and buy a new pair of shoes to a shop for runners. In Copenhagen we are lucky as there are many good alternatives. In the shop I was asked to put a pair of running shoes and hit the treadmill. It was then, that I learn new words like pronation and supination.

The gait test

This is something you should do when you aim to run regularly. The test consists in putting some “neutral” running shoes, and run for 15-30 seconds at your normal pace. A camera will record your feet movement, in particular how you are landing, and if there are misalignments within the ankles or knees. This can help determining if you tend to pronate, supinate or overpronate.

Pronation and supination

Pronation and supination aren’t intrinsically bad. They are parts of the act of running, shifting the weight load of the body and allowing the movement itself. However, an excess of these styles, often physiologic and connected with the feet’s arch, can cause discomfort and even injuries.

I am not a specialist, and I will not go into details;  you will find many well-written articles on the web regarding this important matter. I will mention that flat feet (low archs) are usually connected with pronation, while high archs with supination.  In some cases, excess in these movements (e.g. overpronation) can be an issue to be addressed. Technology can help: all qualified shoemakers offer models of supportive shoes to help overpronators to achieve their goals without injuring their joints, ankles, hips or knees. If you are an overpronator, you can find some inspiration here.


The bottom line in how to select the right pair of running shoes: if you like to run, you should prioritize the choice the right pair of shoes, matching your running style. Specialized shops offer the gait test helping this decision making step. This is extremely important and, together with a balanced training schedule and a healthy lifestyle, should be in your checklist of things to do.

One more little piece of advise: some running shops will ask a contribution (10-20 €) for the execution of the test, in case it is not followed by a purchase. Better to check the shop policy beforehand!


Picture from Josiah Mackenzie under license CC BY 2.0


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