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Whether you’re a complete beginner or a seasoned marathon champ, there’s a good chance you do much of your running on concrete and tarmac. While we’re used to seeing these materials everywhere in the modern world, it’s important to remember they’re man-made – we never evolved to run on such hard surfaces. And that’s why the best road running shoes give you a range of critical features to reduce the road’s impact on your feet, bones and joints.
Road running trainers are probably the most commonly used footwear for running and they include various features to match the specific movements of placing one foot in front of the other over and again.
So, what exactly makes a road running shoe different to other kinds of footwear, and what features should you look for?
Why the best road running shoes differ from other trainers
There’s plenty of evidence which confirms the importance of wearing appropriate footwear for specific types of exercise, and this is especially true when it comes to running. The three key things which distinguish road running trainers from other kinds of footwear are:
- Highly cushioned: A key fact to remember here is that when you run, the force pounding down onto your feet is up to three times the weight of your body – significantly more so than when you are walking. The best road running shoes are designed to alleviate this pressure through the use of impact-cushioning gels, foam soles and various other weight distribution features.
- Uni-directional design: Think about the motion involved in road running – unlike other sports which might see you moving from side to side (and therefore needing grip to deal with this), the soles and shape of road running shoes are designed to make moving forward as easy as possible.
- Lightweight: When running long distances, the last thing you want is to feel like you have a pair of bricks strapped to your feet. Road running trainers are built using exceptionally lightweight materials which are intended to make your run as smooth as possible.
Of course, the best road running shoes will offer you far more than these essential features. You should also expect:
- Breathable materials: As you run further, your feet get hotter. It’s therefore smart to choose shoes designed to dissipate that heat by using breathable materials.
- Water-resistance: No one wants to run in damp socks – so during the wetter months it’s a good idea to choose shoes which offer at least some water resistance, if not complete GoreTex protection.
- Durability: A road running shoe is an investment – you don’t want this footwear to fall apart after 100 miles. Read reviews and choose a trusted manufacturer whose shoes are preferred by professionals as well as serious runners.
How to find road running trainers
If you know your running style, your next step is to browse trainers. Because there are plenty of options out there, using a shoe finder guide can be a good step in narrowing down your choices.
Your shoes are definitely the most important investment you can make into your running, but as you progress, it’s certainly worth considering other running gear, such as socks and hats, which will make your exercise that much more comfortable.