ask a runner: what kind of running shoes?

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I am just getting into running -- well, jogging. After not exercising for 5 years I thought it was about time. 
I have a problem: I cant find good shoes. I have tried on about a dozen pairs and none feel just right. 
Could you point me in the right direction and tell me some good pairs.? Thank you so much for answering these questions, it's great for us beginners! - Dee

What are the best shoes to wear during running? Wendy

I can’t seem to find a comfortable pair of shoes. I know everybody’s feet are different, but after several pairs I still haven’t found a good shoe for me. I’m 40, 5′7″, 118lbs. Currently, I get numbness in the toes of one foot. The bottoms of my feet feel bruised after workout. All the running shoes I have feel too wide in the toe box and often too loose in the heel area. After a long workout, my knees hurt behind my kneecaps. Can you recommend good brands of running shoes to correct any of these issues? Thanks for your advice! - Elizabeth

Can you recommend a good running sneaker? - LuluLuver

What are the best running shoes to wear? Kim H.

a runner responds

Dee, Wendy, Elizabeth, LuluLuver, & Kim,

Finding good shoes are like finding a good man – you just have to keep on looking and trying until you find that sweet shoe that works for YOU – and then stick with it forever! My favourite shoes to run in are the Mizuno Wave Creation (check out their site for local retailers). I’ve worn Mizunos for 8 years, and they never disappoint.

I would suggest that you try a specialty running store for your shoe hunt. They usually have a good return policy in case you give your runner’s a trial run indoors on a treadmill. They are an important investment, and a good fit is critical. A good shoe should feel great as soon as you have it on, and it should not give you blisters. I do not believe in a “break in” period for good runners. Some great running shoe brands to try are Asics, New Balance, Mizuno, Saucony, & Newton. But be sure to have a running shoe fit expert from a specialty run store look at your run gait and follow their advice.


Ainslie is the first run expert featured in our Ask a Runner series. Check out her Triple Threat Training website to get to know her better.

Upcoming run post from Ainslie:

- How to stay motivated – May 28

read more related posts:


After years of being a dedicated Asics girl, but never finding a pair of shoes that felt good for my whole body, I discovered barefooting. I now wear Vibram Five Fingers exclusively for running, and for most of my working out, etc as well. I haven’t had a reoccurance of my faciitis since I switched. If supported shoes don’t work for someone, they should give barefooting a try, it might work best for their body!

Comment by Becca — May 27, 2010 @ 7:48 am

Hey Runners!

The best pair of running shoes is a pair that not only feels great, but that corrects your foot in the best possible way. If you head to a specialty running store, you’ll find that their shoes are divided up by three categories: 1) Cushioning, 2) Stability, and 3)Motion Control. The first category, cushioning, (including the Mizuno Wave Creations mentioned by Ainslie) are for people who are blessed with no movement in the ankle while running.
The Stability and Motion Control categories are for people who need the extra stability through the construction of the shoe to get their foot into a more neutral position when they run.
Basically, your foot will either PRONATE (the ankle will drop, or roll inwards during a normal walking or running motion) or SUPINATE (the ankle will drop or roll outwards during a walking or running motion).
The best way to find a pair of shoes is to get yourself to a specialty store (like Running Room) so that they can watch you run and help you pick a category and level of support that’s best for your feet.

Good luck!

Comment by Megan — May 27, 2010 @ 7:49 am

A good running shoe is very stiff at the midsole and does not bend much at the arch of the shoe. it should also be stiff when you try to twist the shoe. Asics and Brooks are both great.

Comment by Claire — May 27, 2010 @ 7:52 am

I have had great luck with Asics Kayano!

Comment by Terri — May 27, 2010 @ 7:59 am

Can’t go wrong looking at the Brooks family of sneakers.

Comment by Scott — May 27, 2010 @ 8:44 am

Don’t buy into expensive motion control shoes… they’re a waste of money.

“First of all, it’s important to realise that modem running shoes, even the ones equipped with ‘anti-pronation’ features, actually cause pronation–-they don’t control it,” says Benno Nigg, PhD, a renowned University of Calgary researcher and author of the book, The Biomechanics of Running Shoes.

(from Chris McDougall’s blog:

Most running store reps still go by the “corrective footwear” standards first promoted by the running shoe industry (not podiatrists!) in the 70s. All you really need is a no bells and whistles shoe that feels good, has a fairly neutral heel, and has appropriate traction for the type of running you do (e.g. trails vs roads, wet vs dry).

So how do you control pronation? Technique! I took a Chi Running workshop, and was able to go from $90 “corrective” shoes with $400 prescription inserts to $75 trail running flats with no inserts, and my knees have never felt better.

Right now I’m running in New Balance WT100s. I’ve always like New Balance because they have a wide toe box. I ran for years in Asics and liked them, too. A lot of my runner friends love their Mizunos. The only shoes that I have had problems with have been Nikes, maybe because I have wide feet.

Comment by elaine! — May 27, 2010 @ 10:26 am

The best running shoes are those that are paired with your running style, not any particular brand or style. Get a professional fitting at a running-only store, by a staff member trained to analyze your strike and stride. The shoe should NOT correct anything with either, but instead should compliment it — you’re looking for protection from the elements (stones, glass, nails, etc), not some fancy space-age device to boost performance…that’s what your training is for.

Comment by Spamboy — May 27, 2010 @ 10:55 am

I LOVE Asics & Pumas!! I have narrow feet and high arches.

Comment by socallululover — May 27, 2010 @ 3:25 pm

I love Asics Gel Kayano!

Comment by Pamela — May 27, 2010 @ 4:59 pm

For those of you in WA – go to Sports Fever for running shoes, they offer the best service and help

Comment by Emmy — May 27, 2010 @ 5:55 pm

I agree with Becca. I have slowly worked my way from a shoe for pronation control to Vibram’s. No fasciitis or ankle problems since I switched.

Comment by Heather — May 27, 2010 @ 6:37 pm

SLOWLY being the key word if you’re going to switch to barefoot/minimalist. You can’t just start running barefoot all the time without a transition period, or you will get hurt. As for the shoes, what works for another person might not work for you at all. Everyone’s feet are unique.

Comment by Madeline — May 27, 2010 @ 7:19 pm

It doesn’t matter what brands other people wear, but the brand that the best for your particular running style, step, body type, etc. When you go to a running store, consider bringing your old running shoes, even though they weren’t the right fit so that they can look at the wear pattern. Wear clothes you can run in! I like Fleet Feet running stores, but there’s tons of great running specific stores.

Comment by Lisa — May 28, 2010 @ 10:59 am

I think the best advice for shoes is to find the one that feels perfect as soon as its on your foot. You should have to break in a shoe for it to feel good. It should feel right the moment you put it on. There is some interesting research that has been done to back up the idea that our shoes are actually creating more injuries by trying to control and correct all of our alignment problems. I have been making my way over to more minimalist support shoes for about a year and I do notice a difference in the number of injuries I get. Running barefoot or with vibrams (Aquasocks is a cheaper option, less fashionable) automatically makes your steps much lighter and reduces stress on the body.

Comment by Brian — May 28, 2010 @ 3:37 pm

I’ve been in the technical running shoe business now for over 10 years and I can’t count the amount of times that people have come in wanting a specific shoe because it has worked well for their friends. The true reality of the matter is everyone has different mechanics and will benefit from specific structural features in a shoe. The footwear available now that mimics barefoot running and higher levels of muscular activation in the legs and core has it’s place but even the sales reps from the companies that make those express that the biggest concerns surrounding them is that many of them are not designed for everyone and that they get mis-sold or sold without the appropriate education about how to use them properly. They are designed as training tools and depending on an individuals biomechanics how they need to be used varies.

Speaking directly to the questions beginning this discussion. Having your feet assessed properly and having someone guide you towards the correct features in a shoe is extremely important when selecting shoes. If you are running, then seeing someone that has the ability to assess your running gait through video analysis and break down the motions in your lower limb can be the biggest keys to finding the right mechanical properties in a shoe. People can have entirely different biomechanics when running vs. walking due to the increase in body force on the feet during running so this becomes a step that is often missed due to lack of assessment tools. During this process muscular function can also be assessed to make sure that you are able to begin running with less chance of injury. These steps will be the best way to get into the right product(s) for your body.

Specifically to Elizabeth. Numbness in the toes is usually caused by either nerve or blood vessel compression in either the fore foot or mid foot depending on where the sensation radiates to. This can be caused in a large variety of ways and is definitely something to see someone about that can assess your foot and shoe combination as well as lower leg muscular function as that can be a contributor to these issues as well. The pain you are experiencing in the knee sounds like patellofemoral pain syndrome and can be caused by mechanical issues in the feet or hips/pelvis, muscular misalignment and/or improper cushioning/structure in your footwear which is also something that can be assessed at the same time as your metatarsal issues.

It is very important to note, that shoes will not “correct” mechanical issues in the feet as that would make them a medical device and not something that could be sold off the shelf. Specifically, shoes are designed to accommodate different foot shapes and mechanics to help buffer ground impact forces and guide gait as well as prolong wear of a shoe. For example, a stability shoe does not correct over-pronation, it is specifically designed to slow the rate at which over-pronation occurs in order to reduce impact stresses caused by that type of mechanics as well as increase the wear properties of the medial side of the shoe so that a pronator isn’t wearing out the medial side of the shoe much more rapidly than the lateral.

I’d be happy to answer any questions about my above post.

Jay – BSc.Kin, C.Ped(C)

Comment by Jay — May 29, 2010 @ 5:40 pm

New Balance and Puma’s fit narrow feet well.

Comment by Keri — June 11, 2010 @ 2:27 pm

Newton Running SHoes have changed my running life for the past 3 years. I run 20-30 miles/week. I no longer wear my custom inserts. Watch their video on their website and learn more. I’ve referred these to so many of my running friends and they are coverts…

Comment by Mimi — September 4, 2010 @ 8:15 pm

If you want to increase your level of fitness, the only shoes worth spending money on are the Vibram Fivefingers. They have no support. No cushioning. They’re a piece of rubber fit to your foot. Or, just ditch the shoes. I do, on the regular. Why? Because feet work really well for running. ‘Running shoes’ are designed to hurt you, slow you down, and drain your wallet. I’d like to race that ‘doctor’ and then at the end of it when he comes to the finish line out of breath, I’d knock him unconscious for hurting people by recommending ‘running shoes.’ See you at lululemon laguna beach, sundays at 8am.

Comment by Gareth Field — October 2, 2010 @ 9:26 pm

You could also check out Spira. they are great especially for first time runners. Takes a lot of the pressure off of you knees and increases your endurance(just don’t use them in a race, they are considered a performance enhancer, not kidding)

Comment by Stephen the Cross Country Running Shoe Guy — January 22, 2011 @ 10:21 am

You might need to get a running shoe person to see what type of last you need- curved, straight, or semi-curved. The wrong fit would make shoes uncomfortable for sure. Starting with a very basic shoe can be a great idea, but it also has to coincide with gentle training for starters- Good Luck!

Comment by Running Shoe Guy — May 16, 2011 @ 3:35 pm

I have a pair of Vibram Fivefingers and they are probably the best shoes I have ever bought. I have had issues with my ankles for years just randomly twisting or rolling while running or doing sports. I rencently started doing more intense workouts and runs, and needed a new pair of running/cross training shoes. I went to the nearest sports store and bought a pair of asiacs and a pair of insoles that the guys suggested. They were terrible! I mean, I could not run in them for any length of time without being in pain, so I immediatly took the insoles out thinking that was the problem. The pain never went away. I started looking up barefoot running, and was amazed with how many people are doing it and it actually helping their ankle, knee, feet problems. So I figured I may as well give it a try. I ordered my fivefingers shoes online, and they were here in a week. Took about a month for my feet, calf muscle, and ankles to fully adjust, but now they are great, I have no more pain, no more rolled ankles. Humans are not meant to wear cushioned shoes, or shoes at all for that manner…. it evolution. Try it.

Comment by Caroline — June 10, 2011 @ 6:09 am


I heard about the new shoes of New Balance called: New Balance Minimus.
Do you know if they are really healthier and better for running?


Comment by Kika Stayerman — June 30, 2011 @ 7:28 am

The best running shoe is the shoe that fits YOU and YOUR needs. Go to a specialty running shoe. You will know if it is a worthy store if they do a number of things: 1) looks at the way you stand, 2) looks at wear patterns on your basic walking shoes, 3) wets your feet and looks at the foot print you produce, 4) ask you questions about aches or pains during running. These four basic things can help determine your needs, weaknesses, and strengths. Then, and only then, can a running show be recommend that meets YOUR needs because every brand of shoe offers something special. Some brands have a better track record in their product for specific needs, etc.

And as you know we are all different in our needs.

If the specialty store does not ask these basic questions, then they are not really a specialty store for runners or the sales person is untrained. Then I suggest you definitely move on or you may just end up wasting your money on a bad shoe for you.

Good luck in YOUR search.

Comment by Patricia — July 18, 2011 @ 8:06 pm

The best shoe is the one that fits! That said, have a professional at your local shop walk you through the fit process and try a bunch! My experience has shown that most people are in shoes that are over corrective for their bodies…over probation and over supination are not the rampant problems that shoe manufacturers would have you believe…

Hearing that the original poster is having issues with bruising and numbness makes me inclined to think she needs to look for cushioning and width, but not necessarily a lot of stability or structure…

Hoka OneOne provides a ton of cushioning in a plush ride, while being super light and minimalist in design…so your feet and legs are still doing the bulk of the work in strengthening all those little muscles…

They are expensive, but worth it…put ‘em on your list of brands to try…

Comment by Jay Curwen — August 23, 2011 @ 7:31 pm

Shoes can be a bit tricky. It really depends on what type of a runner you are and what you’re trying to achieve.

If you just enjoy a 5k every now and then and are not really interested in addressing your running form, then it’s probably best to go to a running shop that can assess your stride and put you in a shoe that fits well.

On the other hand, if your form is perfect and you want to run in a lighter shoe to get faster then typically you will have to gut the support in your shoe. This will mean that you will need to build up your foot strength to minimize the chances of getting injured (stress fractures most likely).

So the shoe spectrum goes from literally no shoe at all, all the way to a big clunky shoe with oodles of support like the Asics Kingsei. How you run and what you want to achieve in running will determine how much of a shoe you need for now. Then it comes down to what shoe feels comfortable.

Piece of cake!

Comment by Tom Cripps — December 8, 2011 @ 10:59 am

I am a jogger…Saucony!!

Comment by teenteen — December 9, 2011 @ 6:04 pm

I enjoyed running up until I developed “Heal Spurs” I have been in pain and unable to run for more than 8 months. I have done other things but have packed on some weight! Is it over for me running?

Comment by milli — September 19, 2012 @ 1:20 pm

Hey Milli,
Your doctor is the best person to talk about this with. I’d highly encourage you to chat with them and getting their advice on the best actions to take.


Comment by GEC Online — September 21, 2012 @ 12:53 pm

I used to get shin splints a lot because i wore bad shoes. I got a pair of cross trainers (under armour) and they have lasted me a while without any noticeable damage.

oh id also like to add that I have extremely bad knees from playing rugby so finding good shoes to protect my knees for high impact is really important.

and as a runner you are supposed to change your shoes every six months however i have been using the same ones for 2 years now and they’ve been pretty good to me.

Comment by Rebecca — November 26, 2012 @ 11:01 am

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