Footwear, aka. Running Shoes

As I have accumulated no less than seven pairs of running shoes in my repertoire and having spent a few months back in the shoe selling industry I thought I'd impart some wisdom your way. But first you're probably wondering how someone who only professes to run three (maybe four) days a week has seven pairs of shoes to pick from. So here's the breakdown.

New Balance WR10 - My first minimalist shoe. I used it on the treadmill for a few weeks and then raced my triathlon in it. I plan to use it when I'm coaching Personal Best in the upcoming weeks as I'll be doing short distances and drills only on those nights.


Orange Wave Precision 11- These have a pretty high number of kms on them but are no means dead so I've been wearing them on the treadmill (soft surface) on those blustery days or days I get too busy w/ the rest of life and I'm stuck doing a run at 9pm.

Blue Wave Precision 11 - These shoes have about 400 kms on them so it's time for them to be my speedwork shoe. They've got cushioning to do the long distances but moving them to a shorter distance now will preserve their life.

Pink Wave Precision 12 - New long run shoe. I just love love love the colour. I am owever not love love loving the fit. I'm going to give them a few more runs but this definitely isn't my favorite update. Rumours are that the Precision 13 out this fall fits much better.

Wave Ascend - Trail running shoes w/ lots of life left in them.

Wave Rider - I won these shoes at the Game of Life 5km and I'm not sure how they're going to fit into my running life as truthfully I don't love them. I'm thinking of keeping them in the car as an emergency pair.

Brooks Green Silence - You may recall that these shoes became the start of my knee problemd. I've decided they just aren't a great fit and my body doesn't love them. I bought them with few other options for my tiny ladies foot. At a 6 or 6.5 it's harder to find a wide selection of racing flats. So, they'll become a work shoe this winter.

Clockwise from top: Green Silence, Wave Rider, Orange Precision, Blue Precision, Pink Precision, Wave Ascend

Now, you'd think that'd be enough but... I'm in love with the New Balance 1400. So, I'm getting those too. They are going to be my racing shoes most definitely and I'm going to see how they hold up on the long runs weekly. With so few left before Edmonton I figure that even with having about 200km on them they'll still be good for racing.

My Dream Shoes

So... what's the difference and should you have seven (nearly eight) pairs of shoes in your closet? Probably not that many but I would say that most runners running four or more days a week should have two or three pairs of shoes to rotate through. This will help preserve the life of your shoe. All that foam (EVA) needs time rebound as close to original as possible so the longer you can give it the better.

When do you need new shoes? The ballpark is 500-700km but that is totally person specific. Someone who runs in their shoe 5 or 6 days a week might get 500km out of a shoe where as  person who runs 3-4 times might get 600km. But it also depends on how long each person is running. So if you're only doing 25-30 minutes on the treadmill 5 times a week your shoes will (theoretically) last you longer than someone running 60 minutes three times a week outside even though the weekly milage is roughly the same. And then it depends on your weight, running surface, etc. Oh, and the shoe itself. Lightweigh racing flats aren't designed to last as long as 'traditional' high cushioning shoes. So... how do you know? Sometimes a shoe can have a flat feeling and little bounce under you. Other times your knees or ankles ache a bit. Or maybe you have no clue until you try on a new pair and think, oh yes, this feels much better. Other signs - the tread on the bottom is nearly flat and has relatively low grip; The upper portion of the shoe is feeling loose and sloppy; A fun coloured update of your favorite shoe is available.

Overwhelming, right?
Inside of your shoes look like this? That's your cotton socks ruining your shoes - time to invest in a proper running sock.
So, ideally you'd go to your local independent running store where the staff are well educated and care about getting you in the right shoe (and if you're lucky the left one will be free). Save that you might go to a running specific chain store w/ high employee turnover and if you're desperate for the exact same make and model as what you're currently wearing you can go to some big box sporting apparel store or buy online. A recent study on said that 49% (the majority in this case) prefer to buy local (32% online, 11% large sport store). Yes, everyone wants the best deal but keep in mind when you shop local you're bound to hear about the latest and greatest trends in running, great races, find other people to run with, and have some friendly staff member hold you slightly accountable to your running goals. In fact just the other week, at work, I gave a gentleman a semi-custom running program for his 10km goal race, for free!

Barefoot, minimalist, two pairs, three pairs? Ok, so here's my thoughts. If you're running five or more times a week you should rotate between two pairs of shoes. They can be the same, or different. For example, use a cushier shoes for your longer runs and something more lightweight for speed work and tempo. Three pairs? Why not - match your outfit or your mood. Barefoot/minimalist. Hmm, maybe. That depends.

First, there's no perfect science to getting the right shoe but here are three things you can do to help you get the most out of your experience.
1. Bring in your old shoes - the wear pattern can tell a lot about your foot movement.
2. Keep an open mind - been wearing a specific brand for years - don't be afraid to switch it up.
3. Don't be afraid to try them on a treadmill if you're not sure.
4. Ask lots of questions.

When the sales associate brings you three to four pairs out, know that they are choosing those based on the shape of your foot, your arch height or lack there of, and what you've asked for in a shoe - cushioning, lightweight, etc. I see a lot of feet in my week and from that I've learned what shape of foot fits best in what shoe. My colleagues are similar. Sometimes it's a randomized guess but most often the shoe or shoes we're bringing you are because people of similar height/build/foot shape/running goals/etc like this shoe as well. So don't be surprised if you come shoe shopping with your mom and you end up walking out with the same pair of shoes if you happen to look a lot like her.

As an average running for fitness runner weight, drop, and all the fancy tech lingo shoe companies use to explain their product isn't going to make you a better runner. Training will. Training is a shoe you're comfortable in will only aid in your desire to slip them on and head out the door.

So then, here's my position on minimal shoes and the average runner. First, what kind of shoe do you wear currently? High stability - best not to leap into minimalism - try a high cushioning neutral shoe first. High cushioning neutral - try incorporating a light weight racing flat for a few months first. Been wearing racing flats for a while now? Minimalism could be something you want to explore - but why? What are your running goals? Moving into a minimalist/barefoot shoe requires not only foot strength and stability but stability through your core. Minimal alone won't make you faster or a better runner. Adhering to a program that challenges your body to be stronger from head to toe should be your first step. If you go minimal, know it's a gradual process and you need to pay attention to your strength in your back, your abdominals, and your glutes so you can maintain proper running form in your minimal shoes throughout the duration of the run. As a population who sits heavily we are often weak and don't have the endurance in our mid to upper bodies to support proper posture over long runs in a minimal shoe which requires a very upright posture. So what I'm saying is, minimal shoes can be a tool to help you become a stronger more efficient runner if you do some work beyond running in them alone.

Finally, here's an infographic I found, hich is mostly informative and slightly funny.

Running Shoes Infographic: How to Choose the Best Running Shoes


  1. Really good advice on the shoes. I thought any running shoes at a sports store is fine until a couple of friends mentioned about the local running stores. I gave it a shot and what a difference. The local running stores, even though costs a little more, is definitely worth it. They'll figure out your running style, your type of feet and can explain the technique while you're running on a treadmill.

    My current pair is a brooks adrenaline gts and I'm loving it. One good shoe for one person doesn't mean it'll be good for the next. I was able to take on the beastly precor treadmills on a good incline with these shoes that I could never had done with my old one.

    Good writeup Kourtney. I wish more people can read this post before heading out to a large chain and buying 'general' running shoes.

    1. Amy
      Sorry for not replying earlier (new baby in the house). Thanks for your comment and hopefully you can share your great experience with other and encourage them to shop local.