So, you want to start running? Welcome to the club, you will love it here. The first step to becoming a runner is finding the best running shoes for beginners because this is what will move you from walking to running, fast.
Any runner who has racked up a few miles will tell you that plenty of times, what makes the difference between a fantastic and an awful run is usually a pair of running shoes. That is why you must learn how to buy running shoes first, before spending money on expensive shoes.
When you weigh the cost of going to the gym versus that of running outside, you can almost say that running is free, save for the races when you seriously get into it.
Whether you are running for weight loss or pure pleasure, the most you’ll probably be spending is on running shoes. That is why you have to get it right the first time, or you’ll be burning money looking for the best running shoes time and again.
This article will walk you through two important points: how to buy running shoes, and the best running shoes for beginners, guided by an expert.
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How to buy running shoes for the first time
Apart from price, there are lots of important factors to consider before buying running shoes, which Dawid Visser, a running expert sheds light on.
1. Consider the surface you will be running on
As a beginner runner, you should give thought to the type of surface you mostly you will be running on. This matters a lot because most running shoes are designed for different surfaces such as concrete, grass trail or treadmill.
2. Have a running gait analysis done
Running expert Dawid Visser, recommends going to your local running shoe store to have a running gait analysis done.
A gait analysis will provide you with information about your running style, which, at the end of the day, will determine the right type of running shoes for you. Gait analysis focuses on pronation which in layman’s terms, describes the way your foot rolls when you walk and run.
3. Buy half a size up from your everyday shoes
Running in shoes that are either too small or too big might cause blisters, or foot problems after a while.
“Always remember that your running shoe size will be bigger than your normal shoe size as you need to be aware that your foot will need to move in the shoe,” Dawid points out.
The recommendation is that you should go half a size up from your day to day shoes depending on the fit. I feel this should not be a one size fits all method to gauge to go by because feet are shaped differently, so are running shoes.
The most accurate way of finding running shoes that properly fit is to start by measuring the size of your foot with a tape measure.
Do this with your foot resting on a flat surface, while wearing the socks that you would usually be running in.
If you are unable to measure your feet, you can wing it by making sure that there’s always be room to wiggle your toe inside the shoe, or at least enough space for a thumb.
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4. Measure your feet or go shopping for running shoes in the afternoon
Naturally, feet expand the longer you are on your toes. This means that towards the end of the day, would be the best time to go shoe shopping or measure your feet if you are buying the running shoes online.
“The best practice for buying running shoes is to shop for shoes in the middle of the day when your feet are most swollen due to heat. This is common as there is slight variation in the size of the feet in the morning and in the evening,” Dawid adds.
5. Always buy running shoes based on fit & feel & not how pretty it is
When I just started running, I would base my purchase decision for running shoes on the colour or how pretty and fashionable the shoes were.
And mine is not an isolated case. Lots of other female runners and gym-goers have admitted to buying workout shoes because they looked amazing, and not that they were functional.
Others make similar mistakes such as sticking by trendy brand names or going for expensive running shoes because they falsely believe that expensive means better quality.
Dawid Visser advises against this kind of thinking when it comes to buying running shoes.
“Always choose running shoes on fit and feel and not on how they look. You want to be comfortable while running. Besides, your shoes will get dirty in any case no matter how cute they look. The best-looking shoe is not always the shoe that will work for you,” Dawid advises.
*This post may include affiliate links. You can read my full disclosure here.
Best running shoes for beginners
Now that we know how to buy the perfect running shoes, let’s get to the meat of the matter. These are the best running shoes for beginners that will help you run like the wind from the start to the finish line.
1. Best budget running shoes
Like I said earlier, expensive doesn’t really mean better quality. There are affordable running shoes that will give you great miles without leaving a hole in your pocket.
My budget for running shoes has always been tight because I have a lot of other commitments, thus, only splurge once in a very long time. You will usually find me pounding the pavement in quality running shoes that cost a fraction of the average price.
One of the best budget running shoes is this sturdy and comfortable ASICS Gel-Venture 6 shoe, which will feel like they were specially made for your feet. I have owned 3 pairs of this shoe so far, and nothing in this price range beats Asics Venture 6.
This shoe has one of the best arch support and is the kind that you can spend the whole day walking in, especially if your job involves long hours of standing.
If you have wide feet, however, this shoe might not for you.
2. Best running shoes for heavy runners and bad knees
If you are an overweight runner, you should ensure that you are wearing the right running shoes that fully support your weight. Running in poorly cushioned shoes may cause problems for your knees.
What you need to look for is a well-cushioned pair of running shoes that is lightweight and designed to absorb shock and support your joints.
The shoe that is both durable and perfect for plus size runners, is the HOKA ONE ONE Bondi 6, which appears heavy but turns out to be very light and breathable.
You must check out this running plan for beginners to lose weight.
3. Best cushioned walking shoes
Yes, this post is about the best running shoes for beginners, but one thing I know is that not all of us start running from day one. We walk first before we run- I know I did.
I want you to know that it’s okay to start walking first. It doesn’t matter that you will be walking for the first few weeks or month, take it at a pace you are comfortable with and improve from there.
As you walk towards running, make sure you are power or brisk walking so that you elevate your heart rate and burn as many calories as possible.
The best shoe for walking, hands down is the Brooks Ghost 12. Ghost 12 has been given the thumbs up by lots of people, such as those who have moved from walking to running, as well as medical professionals who spend hours on their feet. Its predecessor, Brooks Ghost 11, is equally breathable and comfy as the 12.
4. Best running shoes for long-distance
The shoes we have covered so far, are for short to medium distance running, except for Brooks Ghost 12, which works quite well for long-distance running for beginners.
If you have set your sight on the bigger picture, and are considering running long distances, then you must invest in shoes that are designed to give you a smooth ride beyond that 10k.
Less is more when it comes to marathon running shoes. Do not make the mistake of buying long-distance running shoes that have excessive cushioning, that may hurt your running form, instead of giving you proper support.
The best running shoes for long-distance is the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 20, without a doubt. It has a balanced soft cushioning without the excessive bulk that might slow you down.
5. Best road running shoes
Road running includes running on smooth surfaces like the pavement or tarmac. If you’ll be gliding on the road, your running shoes need to be lighter and flexible.
An excellent shoe that got great tread for road running is this Brooks Glycerin 17 Road Running shoe.
6. Best trail running shoes for beginners
Trail running involves running on off-road routes. The terrain is usually rough, and the surface uneven. Trail running shoes need to have extra traction and tread as well as a whole lot more cushioning to lessen the impact.
If you will be spending your time off-road, running and not hiking, then HOKA ONE ONE Clifton 6 is your best bet.
How often should you replace running shoes?
Right now that we know how to buy running shoes and the best running shoes for beginners, we have to answer one last question. How often should you replace running shoes?
Asics suggests replacing your running shoes after 450 to 550 miles (about 725 to 885km). Most runners keep a mileage log to help them with this, but I log mine using a running app.
There are a plethora of running apps that you can choose from, and my current favourite is Endomondo.
If you are old school, or simply prefer a pen and paper, you can use a notebook to help you keep track of your miles.
I am currently trying out the Asics Gel Pulse 9, which is the ninth generation of the Asics Gel-Pulse. The Pulse 9 is an entry-level running shoe, ideal for beginners and is classified as the start of the performance range of the ASICS neutral road running range.
You can read my review here: Asics Gel Pulse 9 Running Shoes Review
Are you a seasoned runner? How do you buy your running shoes? Share your tips in the comments below.
Susan Chanda is a professional content writer/journalist with over 20 years’ experience. She holds a bachelor’s degree in marketing management from University of South Africa and a diploma in Journalism and Public relations.
Susan has been writing evidence based fitness and health articles since 2016 for Fitness Chat, and is a certified fitness trainer, and diet and nutrition coach.
Fitness Chat is one of the several other websites that Susan owns, or co-owns with her children.
You can read more about Susan here.