Training for a marathon is rigorous, both to your body and your running shoes. Choosing a pair of best shoes for running marathon is crucial to success in accomplishing your first marathon goals. Yet what’s the best for others does not mean the best for you. Every runner is different. So it’s good to know about the basics of choosing a pair of running shoes to be your partner in the training and your first marathon race.
First Understand Your Running Gait
Before choosing your shoes, it’s important to know about yourself and find the shoes that suit you, rather than adapting yourself to the shoes. Here are the key areas you need to know.
Running Gait – simply stated, it’s the style of movement when running. Your foot will naturally pronate, or roll inward, to distribute the impact when the heel strikes the ground. Neutral pronate is ideal for running. However, runners may experience some variation of too much or not enough pronation. Overpronate is when the feet roll inward too much. Underpronate, or supinate, is when the feet roll inward not enough. Depending on your pronation type, you need a right pair of shoes to compensate for it, so as to increase the stability and support to avoid injuries during running.
Some stores have free gait analysis and provide recommendation on the type of running shoes that is best for both your performance and avoiding injuries.
Foot Strike – people land with different area of the foot when striking on the ground, some hits the ground with the front, or forefoot, some with midfoot, while others land with rearfoot or heel. While there are opinions about landing with forefoot will increase speed of running, landing with midfoot is the natural style of human that induce less injury, and heel strike has higher chance of injury, there is actually no consensus about which is the best for running.
As for you first time marathon runner, my suggestion is keep your own natural running strike. There is no need to change radically for a style that you feel uncomfortable and distracted from your training in building strength and endurance.
Know What You Enjoy From Your Shoes
Like most of the commodities you are looking for, it’s better clear about what’s your benefits from getting the best shoes for you.
Protection – your shoes should give you adequate protection during running in 2 areas:
1. Cushioning – to absorb and reduce shock when your heel strike the ground
2. Stability – supports to avoid injuries to your feet, ankles, knees and even your hips, especially for overpronators.
Comfort – during running, heat and sweat from your feet will build up inside the shoes. A good pair of shoes help to dissipate the heat and allow moisture to escape, making you feel more comfortable. Most running shoes use mesh as upper material, some even have holes in soles with cooling system for ventilation.
Choose The Right Shoes
It is important to have the right kind of shoes for your training and the race, though it seems obvious, I’ve seen some runners use the wrong kind of shoes running in a marathon, such as shoes for badminton, or even sandals. If you are serious about finishing your first marathon, you must consider getting a proper running shoes for the training and the race.
Here are the basic considerations when choosing the right shoes for you:
Match Your Running Gait – if you are neutral pronate, you have a wide variety of running shoes to choose. Overpronator should aim for stability with shoes that provide support and structured cushioning. Underpronator should look for shoes with a lot of cushioning to absorb impacts during strike.
Sole Design – the insole is the piece in contact with your socks, usually made of foam covered with fabric. Midsole are usually made of foam materials of various hardness to provide cushioning, improve arch support and reduce stress on joints. Some brands use additional materials like gel, air, or other technologies in the midsole for extra protection, comfort and stability. Outsoles are normally made of rubber for reducing wearing and better grip.
Upper Material – the upper should be comfortable, breathable and allows moisture to escape. Good running shoes usually use mesh or special engineered materials for this purpose.
Size – getting the right size is crucial to your comfort and safety. Avoid buying in the morning as your feet are smaller, you should try for the right size in the afternoon. Remember to use the socks that you are using in the training when trying your shoes. As your feet expand during running, buy half to one size up to accommodate for it.
Durability – like most things wear out during normal use, running shoes have life span typically ranges from 300 to 500 miles, and it’s related to your weight, the surface you run and your running gait as well.
Price – price of a pair of running shoes ranges from a few tens to over two hundred US dollars. While more expensive shoes may use more advanced materials, it doesn’t mean they are best for you. Choose a pair of shoes that fit your budget. Some models upgrade a version yearly without major enhancement on the features or materials, you can save a lot by buying last year stocks.
Is Racing Flats Good For Me? Some first marathon runners are tempted to use racing flats to run faster in a marathon. Yes, most racing flats are designed for speed with lighter in weight and zero heel-toe height to help run faster. As a first time marathon runner, race flats are not recommended for you, as they have less cushioning which increases your chance for injuries to your feet and joints.
Furthermore, life span of racing flats typically ranges from 150 to 300 miles, that means you are likely to spend on 1 to 2 pairs more if you are aiming on racing flats for training.
Is waterproof needed? My honest answer is no. If there is heavy raining, your shoes will get wet anyway. The waterproof layer reduce the breathability and adds weights to your shoes, and they are usually more expensive.
Choosing the wrong type of shoes can be worse than a lower quality shoes. The most expensive shoes do not necessarily make you run better in your first marathon.
Look for the right kind of running shoes to suit your running gait is critical for avoiding injury and your success in running first marathon. Before buying the shoes, first understand your pronation type and choose the shoes with right balance between stability and cushioning to match your pronation, so you can run comfortably as well as avoiding injuries.
Try your shoes in the afternoon instead of in the morning, with the socks you are using for the training. Buy half to one size up to make room for the expansion of your feet during the run. Buy the best shoes within your budget and enjoy discount of last year version if no major enhancement exist in the new one.
A good pair of running shoes are crucial for your comfort, safety and performance. Choose wisely, treat them well, and cherish your time together. They are your best partner for the training and finishing your first marathon race.