The pair of running shoes you choose can make or break your run. You ever slipped on a pair only to feel that red-hot feeling of an incoming blister a few kms into your first run? Or you take your shoes off after a long run to find a blackening toenail? Whatever your woeful running horror story is, one thing is for sure, you need a solid pair of takkies to help you hit the tar, treadmill or trails. And we’re here to help.
What To Consider When Looking For A New Pair Of Running Shoes
There are a few questions you’re going to want to ask yourself before you head out to your nearest Sportsmans Warehouse on the next available Saturday morning.
What will you mostly be using your shoes for?
How far do you want to run?
What kind of terrain are you going to be running on?
Do you want to use them for other kinds of training (like HIIT or strength training)?
READ MORE: We Tested The NEW Under Armour Iso-Chill Range With Running Late Club
What To Look For In A Shoe
Cushioning: This helps the ground feel softer and encourages ground-contact stability.
Weight: Lighter shoes usually have less cushioning; they’re designed for your speedy runs. Heavier shoes tend to have more cushioning and are better for your longer runs.
Drop: This is the difference in cushioning (or height) from the heel to the front of the foot. Basically, when you’re barefoot your heel and forefoot touch the ground so the drop is 0mm. Slip on a pair of particularly cushioned running shoes (or some serious heels) and the drop starts to increase. Drop tends to range from 0mm to 14mm, with 10mm being the most common heel drop.
Pronation: Many shoes will state the type of pronation they are suitable for (but every person is different). Make sure you choose a shoe that’s suitable for you after doing a gait analysis with an expert (hint: they’re usually free). Not sure what these words mean? Keep on reading!
Do You Need A Gait Analysis For Running?
Many running coaches, trainers and running brands recommend getting a gait analysis. But what does that actually mean? In simple terms, your gait describes the way in which you walk. So a gait analysis is an exam that gives you information about your walking and running style.
Everyone is different and knowing your gait is a huge part of knowing your running style. The more information you have, the more equipped you are to choose the right pair of shoes for you and ultimately prevent injury.
“Knowing your gait can help you grow as a runner and help prevent injuries in the future. Each runner has a specific gait, and not knowing yours could result in an injury,” according to Asics.
What Does Pronation Mean?
A large part of gait analysis focuses on determining your pronation. When it comes to running, pronation refers to how your foot naturally rolls inward after your heel strikes the ground. Ideal pronation would result in this motion (the natural inward roll) absorbing the shock from the force of your heel coming into contact with the ground.
Once your pronation has been determined, you want to try to match yourself to a running shoe that adjusts for your specific pronation. Wearing the correct running shoe will make you a more efficient runner and help you avoid those jog-ending injuries.
3 Types Of Pronation:
Neutral pronation: When your foot lands outside of your heel and then rolls naturally inward (about 15%), absorbing the shock and keeping your ankles aligned. If this is you, try the Under Armour FLOW Velociti Elite.
Overpronation: When your feet roll inward too much. This requires a more sturdy running shoe so that your foot can be kept in place. Try the PUMA NITRO or Asics Gel-Nimbus™ 25 if you’re an overpronater.
Supination or underpronation: When the feet don’t roll inward enough. This requires a shoe that has plenty of cushioning, like the Salomon Spectur.
READ MORE: These Strength And Cross-Training Workouts Will Improve Your Running
5 Places To Get A Gait Analysis In South Africa
Sportsmans Warehouse has RUN-id, an industry-leading advanced gait analysis technology developed by German engineer Jens Hellenbacher. It’s in selected stores around South Africa (Gauteng, Western Cape, Pretoria, KZN and Eastern Cape), is completely free and only takes a few minutes. Find out more here.
ASICS Mall Of Africa
If you’re a runner, you’ll be familiar with Asics. They have a huge range of shoes to suit any type of runner. So if you’ve got your heart set on your next pair being from the brand, why not head straight to the Asics store at Mall Of Africa for a gait analysis? The analysis is free of charge. Find out more here.
Total Sports is really changing the game when it comes to getting active. Their free gait analysis is available at Totalsports in Sandton, Mall of Africa, Canal Walk, Cavendish, Gateway and more.
The Athlete’s Foot
You can pre-order your running and gait analysis at the shop over here. They also give an in-depth breakdown of what they will be analysing and why it matters here.
The Sweat Shop
Head to The Sweat Shop Dunkeld in Johannesburg or The Sweat Shop Claremont in Cape Town for shoe fittings, gait analysis and premium advice.
Now that you know a little bit more about what to look for in your next pair of running shoes, you’re ready to shop. Whether you’re a newbie or an experienced runner, hit the ground running with these newly-released running shoes.
READ MORE: Beginners 5K Running Training Plan And How To Crush It In Just 6 Weeks
For Speed Runs
For speed work and short-distance runs, look for a shoe with a little drop – in a European Journal of Sports Science study, they found that minimalist shoes can help you run faster, and make your feet and calves stronger. These are our top 2024 running shoes for speedy runs.
Nike Vaporfly 3
This is a speed shoe, indeed. But gone are the days when a quick 5K fit the bill for what creates a speedy run. These shoes can take you from a fast 10K through to a pacy marathon, too. The grooves in the sole drive energy from the sole through to the forefoot, making for faster take-offs.
Under Armour Surge 3 Running Shoes
With just an 8mm drop, this lightweight and breathable shoe will have you flying. A cushioned EVA midsole gives you a responsive ride while strategically placed rubber pods on the outsole add durability while keeping things light.
adidas Adizero Boston 12
You’d be surprised that such a chunky shoe can create such speed. Get flexibility in the forefoot along with a locked-in midfoot through your run. Energyrods at the bottom of the shoe provide a more seamless transition as you push off from the ground.
PUMA Fast-R Nitro Elite
You’d be forgiven for thinking this is a moon boot, but it’s actually a speed runner. The shoe, broken into two parts, delivers speed in the front section and comfort at the back, while the forefoot is primed to react to your cadence. It’s also surprisingly stable. While it’s built for speed, you could even take this bad boy on marathons, says PUMA. Expect a new version to drop in February 2024 – this shoe will be lighter and even faster.
Asics Magic Speed
Get the energy you need to ace your next PB. It works for both tempo runs and races and a carbon TPU plate propels your foot forward upon landing, so you go further, faster. A cushioned midsole keeps your stride propulsive while maintaining a lightweight feel.
Hoka Mach X
For those who want to run even faster, this pace-pushing shoe is it. It’s also a lightweight shoe built to last: the Mach X is supercharged with a layer of PEBA foam that’s 34% more resilient than the Carbon X 3 foam, making this a good shoe for both distance and speedy sprints.
For Longer Distance Runs
For longer distances, look for a higher drop in the shoe (read: a higher heel) that supports and keeps you comfy when you’re going for many km.
On Running Cloudbloom Echo
Made to go the distance, these shoes, with the upward curve, push your foot further and faster. You’ll also find enhanced cushioning on the forefoot, making for a more comfortable journey.
Under Armour HOVR™ Machina 3
Perfect for hot rides, the shoe’s mesh upper allows for maximum airflow, while tons of springy cushioning keeps you pushing forward. Plus, the combination of carbon and blown rubber on the outsole allows for durability and a lightweight rebound.
adidas SOLARGLIDE 6
Go the distance with this nifty runner. BOOST tech delivers energy return with each stride, while LEP 2.0 technology guides your foot forward for an extra push when you toe-off during your run.
PUMA Magnify Nitro 2
There’s tons of rubber in this shoe, making for a longer, smoother ride. In the midsole, you’ll find nitrogen-infused NITRO™ foam, to keep you bouncing along in comfort. The outsole’s rubber is durable and is built for all-surface traction.
New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080
Per New Balance, this shoe is IT. The shoe they’d make if they only made one. A bold claim, but we’ve reviewed it and can testify to its bounciness and responsiveness. The midsole, with proprietary Fresh Foam, allows the landing to push off to go that much more smoothly while the super-soft upper material is breathable.
Nike Alphapfly 3
Made with the beloved Zoom upper but with a decked-out sole, this shoe for marathoners looking to pace up fits the bill. It’s helped runner Kelvin Kiptum break the Marathon World Record, so it’s got to be good. What’s new? A smoother heel-to-toe transition from the continuous bottom as well as a wider carbon fibre Flyplate for extra propulsion.
For Trail Runs
With trail running shoes, you’re looking for a grippier outsole that can withstand uneven footpaths and keep your foot secure as you traverse the unknown. These are worth your cash.
A bouncy, superior comfort shoe that tackles the trails while you walk on clouds. An Energy Foam midsole gives you smooth transitions, while an Energy Blade helps with propulsion to shift you forward.
Fast and grippy, this shoe makes the case for a trail run that’s both fast, epic and yes, totally doable, no matter the conditions. The Nike Ultrafly was designed with Vibram and contains its lightweight, agile outsole design and traction tech underneath.
Hoka SpeedGoat 5
Like Nike’s Ultrafly, this shoe features the Vibram® Megagrip with Traction Lug designed to provide more surface contact and traction. It’s lighter and roomier but no less stable, making for light work when tackling the trails.
adidas SOULSTRIDE FLOW GTX
A lightweight shoe that won’t bog you down on the hills. Shock-absorbing EVA provides comfort and the mesh upper takes you through mud, rain and sunshine. The Continental™ Rubber outsole also gives you a better grip on those trails.
Under Armour Charged Maven
For shock absorption, look for the UA Charged tech embedded in this shoe. The cushioning needs to be soft but rugged enough to take on rocks and gravel – and this shoe does the trick.
PUMA Voyage Nitro 3
The camo look is so subtle and beautiful, you’ll be wanting to wear this everywhere. But it’s destined for the trails: it sheds water so you’re never wet, while the outsole allows the shoe to move independently with the ground for better traction.
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