I had given almost no thought to the different types of shoes and always figured that running shoes were just that. Running shoes were all the same.
I am clearly not an expert, but I have, I think, figured out what I am in terms of a running shoes and so I don’t think that I’m an expert, but I am an expert for myself. With that being said, I have had to navigate the different types of shoes and I’m sharing what limited knowledge I have about running shoes.
There are basically 2 types of shoes: 1) neutral running shoes; and 2) stability running shoes.
A neutral running shoe means that you land squarely on the balls of your feet for the most part and if there is wear and tear on the heel, it is on the back and outside part of your heel. I only know what I am because I’ve run in shoes and looked at the bottom and found where I’m landing, where the shoe is getting worn, etc. I also really pay attention when I run about where and how my foot is landing with each step. It is something that I think about.
The other type of shoe is called a stability shoe, but it is not the SAS shoe that’s going through your brain. Since I’m not a stability shoe runner, I can’t exactly say, but from what I do know, that a stability shoe helps with over-pronation and under-pronation (also known as supination). Over-pronation is when you you tend to run inward or on the inside of your foot and you tend to have a flat arch. Under-pronation is where you tend to run on the outside of your sole and then your knees bend inside.
With an over-pronation gait, you tend to need what’s called a stability shoe. If you have an under-pronation gait, then you probably need a really cushioned shoe.
I also understand that if you have a neutral running shoe, you tend to have a pretty high arch. If you pronate, then your foot tends to be a bit flatter. If you under-pronate, then you probably need a really high arch, and if you have severe pronation, then you have a very flat foot.
When you shop for shoes, it’s difficult to know what to buy because everything looks the same. So, at Running Warehouse when you click on the type of run you want to go on (I’ve clicked on road running shoes, but you can do the same for trail shoes) you have the choice where Running Warehouse will filter for you the neutral and stability running shoes.
On the far left, with the filter, you can also filter out the type of running shoes you don’t need under “Pronation Control” so if you need a max stability running shoe, then that does it for you.
The other thing that is important is something called the “drop”, which is the difference between the heel and the forefoot. So if there’s a 10mm drop, that means that your heel is 10mm higher than your forefoot.
You probably need a higher drop, higher than 6mm if you hit your heel first when you run, which is maybe most of runners. You can have a 6mm or less drop if your forefoot or midfoot hits the ground first.
Now that you have the filter of the type of shoe you need, neutral or stability, then you can focus on the different drops for each shoe. On Running Warehouse, you’ll see the “Stack Height” and that’s the same thing as drop, you just take the difference between the two numbers, the heel and the forefoot, which gives you the drop. Also note that when you click on a particular shoe, it will tell you the Stack Height as well as the Arch Height, so you know whether or not you have a medium or high or low arch in that particular shoe.
With all of this being said, if you have a pair of running shoes and you have no pain and you’re able to run on them a ton, then that’s absolutely fantastic. Those are likely a great pair of running shoes for you. I typically run about 400 miles on a pair of shoes so if you’re tracking your mileage, that’s the typical lifespan of a pair of shoes, especially if you’re out pounding the pavement. Your mileage may vary depending on if you run on a treadmill or if you’re trail running.