The Best Shoes for Running

One question I get all the time is: What are the best shoes for running?

There isn’t one.

The best running shoe is the one that you find most comfortable.

All the technology in the world rolled into one shoe won’t do for you what good running form will do.

My opinion on this is unlikely to change. And here’s why:

Just like squats, deadlifts, swimming, throwing, there is good form in running and there is bad form in running.

Some coaches might argue that there is no form, and whichever way an individual runs is the form that’s best for them.

But what happens when we repeatedly do things in bad form?

We get injured.

When HALF THE RUNNING POPULATION gets injured every year, you know something is running amuck … no pun intended.

One of the biggest contributing factors is that runners are thinking about everything but what they’re doing. They are NOT thinking about their form, their stride, their strides per minute, their posture, their forward propulsion, how their feet hit the ground.

When you aren’t being mindful of your body, it tends to do whatever the hell it wants to do and most likely that’s not what it should be doing.

The first most obvious point is that the average runner is a heel striker. If we look at the anatomy of the foot, paired with the achilles tendon, we can understand that our feet are literally designed to absorb shock. Moving further up the body we see the opposing angles of the ankles, knees, and hips create a spring that allows the muscles of the body to absorb shock.

If you’re landing on your heel, you’re missing out on all of that natural shock absorbing goodness.

Another feature of good running form is minimal vertical displacement. Most runners tend to bounce, usually to create space between themselves and the ground for their leg to swing through its stride. Good running form stays lower to the ground than standing and uses knee and hip flexion to bring the leg forward.

Good running form also lands underneath or even slightly behind the body. This eliminates 2 steps in your stride. Landing in front of the body, or reaching with the foot, forces you to brake, transfer your weight over your foot, and then propel to the next stride. When you land underneath your body, you eliminate the braking (a large contributor to shock) and the weight transfer completely, so the only energy you're spending on each stride is on propulsion. Efficient.

I also see a lot of runners arching their backs, an indication that their core is not engaged. Ever get pain in your low back from a run? This is why.

One of the most surprising points is the ideal number of strides per minute. This number doesn’t change from one speed to another. MOST runners will keep a relatively consistent stride length, but change their SPM to adjust speed. This is NOT good running.

Optimal stride speed is 3 strides per second, at any speed. That’s pretty dang fast. How many songs to do you that have a 180 bpm?  

Change in speed is achieved by adjusting the force made by every step, thus the length of the stride gets longer the faster you go. Find a metronome, and get cracking.

All in all, when running is done well, people have described the feeling of falling forward or floating over the ground. It takes effort to keep all of these points in line, and happening in concert with each other, but doing so makes running feel effortless.

So, no, there is no magic shoe. But there is absolutely a magic stride.

Elizabeth Romsloe