Introduction

Whether you’re pounding the pavement outdoors, running trails in the woods or plodding along on the treadmill at the gym, it’s important that you wear the right running shoes.

However, we know that finding ones that fit both you and your style of running is easier said than done. The plethora of models and colours on offer from various footwear manufacturers can be overwhelming.

Yet never fear, today we’re going to help simplify this process by outlining the different types of running shoes available, the benefits of each and our pick from the current market…

Motion Control/Stability

These could be considered two separate categories but they share many similar characteristics. Motion control running shoes are generally recommended for heavy runners or those with flat feet, while stability shoes are suitable for runners with normal or medium arches.

Both have firm midsoles, a large landing base and are generally stiffer, often with a heel counter that acts to reduce pronation (the inward rolling of the foot).

Our Pick: Saucony Stabil CS3

Saucony Stabil CS3 Trainers

An upgrade to the previous Stabil CS2, the CS3 is the most advanced motion control runner released by Saucony to date.

The brand has combined their signature Powerfoam and GRID technologies to create the new PowerGrid platform, which distributes the user’s foot strike over a larger area in the midsole, providing firm support and cushioning.

ComfortLite and Sauc-fit work together to ensure a glove-like fit, keeping your foot locked down and the shoe true to size. A breathable mesh covers the entire upper while an interior HydraMAX liner wicks away moisture, which can cause irritation.

For more information and to pick up a pair head on over to their official website. UK readers can purchase from stockists including Wiggle and Fast Feet Sports.

Neutral/Cushioned

Runners with normal or high arches should consider these shoes while those suffering from pronation should avoid them as they could aggravate this condition.

These shoes provide midsole cushioning for those who experience supination (outward rolling of the foot) and are also considered good choices for mid and forefoot strikers.

Our Pick: Adidas Energy Boost

Adidas Energy Boost Trainers

Adidas’ new line of running shoes, Energy Boost, utilises their new Boost technology.

But what is Boost exactly? Boost is a thermoplastic polyurethane material used in the midsole, one that replaces the industry standard EVA foam. This new material is more springy, offering greater cushioning and a higher energy return over conventional EVA.

Boost is also less affected by external temperature fluctuations, maintaining its integrity in both hotter and colder weather – EVA, on the other hand, seems to get harder in cold temperatures and softer in warmer temperatures.

The end result? Less joint fatigue and greater running capacity. To check out their current offerings head on over to their online store.

Minimalist/Barefoot

These shoes have grown in popularity over the past few years and, as the name suggests, offer a minimalist design and an almost ‘barefoot’ experience.

They have no padding or extra support in any areas of the shoe. There is merely a thin layer of material between your skin and the ground, which simply serves to protect your foot from abrasive surfaces and debris.

Barefoot shoes have what is called a ‘zero drop’ from the heel to the toe, meaning that the foot lays on a flat plane as opposed to being slightly elevated like in traditional shoes. Zero drop encourages a mid or forefoot strike as opposed to a heel strike.

Our Pick: Nike Free Flyknit

Nike Free Flyknit Trainers

By far, Nike’s ‘Free’ range of footwear is the most popular choice among minimalist runners. The Flyknit is no exception to this and utilises a one-piece upper knit design composed completely of polyester yarn – providing a second skin-like fit, high breathability and stretch.

A common feature of all shoes in the Free line-up are large, deep grooves that allow maximum flexibility and promote a more natural stride. Runners are encouraged to transition and work their way through the line-up, gradually reducing their dependence on cushioning and support while strengthening the muscles of the foot.

Check them out at Nike standalone stores or online at Nike.com.

Trail Specific

As you may have guessed, these shoes are designed with trail running in mind. Trail shoes fit into any of the above categories, offering the same sort of support and features, but are more rugged.

They feature harder-wearing materials, an aggressive tread for traction on uneven surfaces, may feature rock plates in the soles to prevent punctures and a higher ankle rise to prevent rolling and abrasion from undergrowth.

Our Pick: Mizuno Wave Ascend 8

Mizuno Wave Ascend 8 Trainers

As its title suggests, the Ascend 8 utilises eight of the company’s proprietary technologies in its construction.

Mizuno Wave and AP+ are Mizuno’s answer to the midsole, which helps to dissipate impact forces throughout the shoe and away from the foot for a more cushioned feel with every step. Their Dynamotion fit creates an upper that moves with your foot, eliminating the stress hi-top trail shoes are renowned for putting on the wearer’s ankle.

Finally, Ascend’s Smooth Ride, Wet Traction and X10 technology helps create a smooth transition from the heel to the toe while long lasting and durable carbon rubber provides grip in both wet and dry conditions.

Check them out on Mizuno’s website.

Road Specific

Again these shoes fit into one of the categories above, but they are designed specifically for road running. Like trail shoes their main difference lies in the outsole, where you will find a sharper tread that helps to grip the sometimes slippery and slick surfaces of the road.

They are also more flexible than their trail running counterparts.

Our Pick: New Balance 880V3

New Balance 880V3 Trainers

While it doesn’t offer the most creative of names, the 880V3 is an all-round road runner. It boasts some of New Balance’s newest and most innovative footwear features to date.

Abzorb cushioning is used in the mid-foot and is composed of a Dupont Engage Isoprene rubber and other proprietary materials for exceptional shock absorption. An Acteva Lite midsole resists compression and is up to 24 per cent lighter than conventional EVA foam.

The outsole utilises an Ndurance rubber compound for longer wear and a T-Beam thermoplastic polyurethane shank increases torsional stability and arch support.

You can pick a pair up online at the New Balance website.

Final Word

As you can see, there is no need to be overwhelmed when it comes to picking your perfect runner. Each brand has their own catchy names for their own innovative footwear features but, despite this, they should all provide a shoe with the same key features outlined above within their respective categories.

Wearing footwear designed for your unique style of running will encourage you to run more, experience less fatigue while exercising and prevent injury in the long term.

Why don’t you let us know your recommended running shoe model in the comments section below…