Running shoe recommendation?
January 1, 2021 1:43 PM   Subscribe

Help recommend me some new running shoes?

During the pandemic, I've gone from total couch potato to running an average of 3 miles/day. In 2021, I hope to double that, but longer runs give me shin splints. I also have wide feet and a touch of plantar fasciitis. I wear men's 8.5, and most of my running is on pavement. What kinds of shoes should I be looking at?

And is there a good place to buy online that isn't owned by Amazon? I'd rather do brick-and-mortar, but with COVID spiking, this time it's going to be online.

I'm currently using a pair of worn out Nike's that aren't even really running shoes.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (30 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I've gone from couch potato to 3 miles a day too, and my shoe of choice is Brooks Adrenaline. Very comfortable, with good support.
posted by essexjan at 1:47 PM on January 1, 2021 [4 favorites]

Hoka are my go to running shoes.
posted by Sassyfras at 1:51 PM on January 1, 2021 [7 favorites]

My mom likes Brooks and she has wide feet. Different brands seem to tend towards wide or narrow feet, and there are also special sizes that will be wider/narrower. For example, when I was a kid I wore 10AA shoes because my feet were super narrow. I would order a few shoes from different brands in your size and return the ones you don't like as much. Other people will probably give you better advice about which brands to look at/how to feel out which shoes you like, but you should try a few esp because you can't go in person to get fitted.

If possible, there should be a running store in your area that can give you advice and have lots of specialized options. If not, my running grandparents always ordered online from Holabird.
posted by clarinet at 1:54 PM on January 1, 2021

My local place will do a virtual fitting and ship to you, if that's of interest:
posted by ambulanceambiance at 1:57 PM on January 1, 2021 [1 favorite]

I love my new brooks levitate 4s.
posted by umbú at 2:19 PM on January 1, 2021

Once you get to that kind of mileage (and before that, when possible), you’d really want to understand your feet and how they strike the ground (high/low arches, over/under pronation or neutral). I’d try to see if you could do a virtual fitting like described above.

I was in the wrong shoes for a year or two and it really messed up my hip and knees.
posted by Pax at 2:21 PM on January 1, 2021 [2 favorites]

Seconding Brooks Adrenaline, but you should probably try some on to make sure you get what fits you.

In terms of shopping, I can recommend Potomac River Running, a local family-owned DC shop that does a wonderful job outfitting beginner and professional runners alike. They ship free over $35, so that's also a bonus. It looks like they have a virtual fitting system, so that might work for you (although I have no direct experience with that).
posted by General Malaise at 2:26 PM on January 1, 2021

I usually wear either Brooks or New Balance. New Balance is well known for having shoes that fit wide feet, and you can go on their website and specify your size, where you'll be running, and anything you want your shoe to help with (stability, motion control, etc).

Runner's World has a very detailed guide to running shoes.
posted by mogget at 2:40 PM on January 1, 2021

Best answer: I just looked at your profile, and it looks like you have a Fleet Feet, and they do appointments. I’d recommend that!

Weird link, sorry:
posted by Pax at 2:45 PM on January 1, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Altra is an interesting, somewhat newish brand that has a very wide toebox in all of its shoes, but it's also zero-drop (the heel is not any higher than the toes), which may or may not work for you.

I bought online at Running Warehouse and had a good experience, but I didn't need help selecting anything and can't vouch for their skill there. They (and some other running stores online) will allow you to exchange shoes within 30 days if they don't work (*after* you've worn them for some runs), though, and that alone feels like a good reason to go with a running store instead of Amazon.
posted by needs more cowbell at 2:52 PM on January 1, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I have tried about eight brands/models. During the last decade they have been using high tech, lower weight materials increasingly. My feet need a lot of impact protection so I was going for the highest protection I could get without going above 200$ Canadian; each new pair felt like it provided me less protection. None of them lasted six months without me feeling a big difference in the stress on my feet as the shoe wore down. The lightest ones were bad enough that I ended up cutting back on my running.

I get that having light weight shoes can save you from fatigue and potentially allow you to run longer and faster. However at the three and five K distances I don't believe that the slight difference in weight makes a positive difference, while the lighter shoe does make a negative one for me.

My solution was to switch to hiking shoes. I am running and walking on very rough ground usually, so the hikers probably help prevent falls. I am not a serious or competitive runner, so don't take my advice as being mainstream. There are probably a lot of people who will disagree with it. I gather that the main objection to running in hiking shoes is that they wear out faster. It's not a safety issue nor suggested that wearing them will cause you damage. But the hiking shoes I am using now have lasted better than the running shoes I had previously. YMMV.
posted by Jane the Brown at 2:53 PM on January 1, 2021

Best answer: I run 2 miles every other day or so ( up from zero) and I went to fleet feet and god very cushy Hokas. I have lifelong back problems ( I’m not even supposed to run) and I find them great. I also bought fancy mohair running socks which feel awesome.
posted by freecellwizard at 2:53 PM on January 1, 2021 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Unfortunately, this is one of those 'other people can't tell you the answer to this' questions, unless you happen to already know what kind of gait you have (neutral, over-pronating, under-pronating).

Running shoes are designed differently to cater to different physical types, and what one person swears by, will cause shin splints in another person (or weird injuries in totally different parts of your body that you might think are unrelated but eventually will come back to incorrect shoes).

So if you can follow Pax's link and get a one-off appointment, that'd be ideal. Running shop staff will watch you run, assess your gait, and recommend the right shoes. Many do it indoors on a treadmill, but one of my local shops does it on the pavement outside the shop, you could ask if they'd do that to minimise covid risk.

If that's definitely impossible, I guess look out for shoes that are labelled 'neutral', that way you'll at least be in the middle of the possible spread and least likely to actually damage yourself.

(Pronation = the extent to which your foot rolls inward during the stride. We mostly tend to hit the ground with the outside of our foot, and as we go through the stride, our foot rolls towards the inside, until our glutes* ideally put the brake on, to stop our legs collapsing all the way inwards. It's a movement which involves not just the feet and ankles, but also the knees and hips and butt, which is why getting the wrong shoes can cause all manner of problems, even right up into your back, shoulders, neck. This article tells you more, and has some suggestions for working out your gait style by looking at your old shoes, if you're not able to be assessed.

*As I understand from a physio who treated me once, anyway. Ideally it's the glutes that do this job, but not many runners work on their glutes, so they tend to be weak and weedy and don't do the job adequately, so we either pull our glutes by overloading them, or something else by recruiting other muscles to do the job instead, working them in ways they're not supposed to work).
posted by penguin pie at 3:00 PM on January 1, 2021 [5 favorites]

Best answer: I have wide feet, high arches that are collapsing and plantar fasciitis. My go-tos are Saucony rides. They are neutral, which works for me.

That said, running shoes.. .you really do need to go to a brick and mortar shop and talk to someone. Feet are finicky. You need shoes that work for you.
posted by gaspode at 3:14 PM on January 1, 2021

I used to wear Saucony running shoes until I discovered that New Balance's cheap line fit me just as well and cost around half as much. But that's just my feet.

I'd definitely recommend going to a good running-apparel store and getting fitted, which ought to include the opportunity to run a little on a treadmill or at least in place.

Once you find out what you like, you can order online from any number of places and probably save some money, but for the initial fitting I'd go to a bricks-and-mortar store.
posted by Kadin2048 at 3:24 PM on January 1, 2021

I’m a runner and you should go to a running store for this kind of question. I run 15-20 miles/week and get the cheapest basic nike running shoes I can get, as often as possible. But I’ve been doing that for years with minimal problems and when I went to Fleet Feet they recommended the same ones. But half a size bigger!
posted by jeweled accumulation at 3:25 PM on January 1, 2021

Best answer: Nth-ing video gait analysis, plus also:

* Do other things than running to help with with shin splints and plantar fascitis. I would strongly recommend you attend to those instead of upping your running distance.
* Add some functional strength training and core/abdominal muscle exercises to make sure you're swinging your legs cleanly beneath you.
* Also massage your shin splints to break down the lactic acid crystals causing that pain, and include time to massage your leg muscles while lying on your back with your legs in the air to loosen and drain out muck from your leg muscles.
* Tightness in the plantar bundle can be helped by massaging the arch of each for while in this position.
* Flex your toes during the day to further help the muscles that engage your plantar bundle.

Unless you're young and recover quickly, the advice to grow your distance in small increments, max +10% each time, is a huge protection against acquiring and building up a long-term injury.

(I wear Mizuno and ran in 4 different pairs of light with stiff mid-foot Wave Aspire and moved to flatter -- heel to toe height difference -- and more flexible trail shoes in Wave Hayate over the past decade )
posted by k3ninho at 3:32 PM on January 1, 2021 [4 favorites]

With the huge caveat that, as others have said, you need to go get fitted for your individual feet/gait, I love love love love my Brooks Adrenalines. I have wide feet too (4E) and Brooks are the only shoes that fit me reliably and remain comfortable.
posted by pdb at 3:44 PM on January 1, 2021

Best answer: The key to avoiding shin splints is to increase your distance very very gradually.

I've had pretty bad plantar fasciitis and what changed it for me was a 2 part strategy of rotating three very different models of shoes (Hoka Bondi for plushness and rocker, Saucony Cohesion (my preferred shoe and they are super super cheap but fall apart really fast) and New Balance Beacons for something in between) and replacing the insoles with Spenco Polysorb Athletic insoles which have a little bump in arch that puts pressure on the part of my fascia and seems to work like a massage.

My wife has wide feet and has had plantar fasciitis and her shoe of choice is New Balance Beacons in part because they are the only shoes she can find that are wide enough for her little duck feet.

In terms of value I really like the Hokas and New Balance. I haven't actually worn out a pair of either brand - they just eventually lose their bounce around 600 miles. The Sauconys on the other hand start to fall apart at 200 miles and I stretch them to 400 by ignoring the rips.
posted by srboisvert at 5:14 PM on January 1, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: To add to the chorus of “what works for some doesn’t work for all”, I have wide feet and PF issues, and I have a horrible time running in Brooks shoes. I currently swap between Saucony Endorphin Pros (for the races I’m not running), Saucony Endorphin Shifts (for daily trainers), Saucony Kinvaras (when I want something different), and a pair of first-gen ASIC Dynaflytes that I refuse to give up despite the fact that they have no cushion left and are developing holes because they’re my favorite.

Insoles help, no matter what shoes you end up with. Calf and foot stretches can help the PF.
posted by okayokayigive at 5:36 PM on January 1, 2021

Best answer: I agree that fit and preference is hugely personal. I’m not sure most people really need a running analysis or something finely tuned to their gait, especially at your (and my!) level. I’ve done a few half marathons and shorter distances but I mostly just run for fun and fitness, 3-6 miles a day. I’ve cycled through a variety of shoes (for reasons, I don’t typically have access to a running store) and all of them have been totally fine and a big improvement over nonspecific “tennis shoes.” The biggest thing that has made a difference to me is going between the high cushion, heavier shoes, and lighter weight “faster” less cushioned shoes. Again, both types worked totally fine, but I definitely developed a distinct preference.

Studies show the most important thing is simply comfort. If you can, go to a store and try a few on and see which feel best. If you can’t, decide if you want something toward the minimalist or maximalist style and get something in your budget with a good reputation. Happy running!
posted by exutima at 5:56 PM on January 1, 2021

Came here to say what exutima did, so will just add the link:

"What we see is that there's really no high-level evidence that any running shoe design can prevent injuries,"....Experts choose comfort over design

If you don't know whether you want less or more cushioning and trying multiple pairs at a store isn't an option right now, just start with something in the middle.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 6:44 PM on January 1, 2021

Best answer: I have wide feet and weak calves (granted not the same as getting shin splints) and my go to shoe is the brooks launch. I size up half size to accommodate my wide toe box and also use superfeet insoles. Saucony are also good for wide feet. I tried Hokas but they didn’t provide enough ankle support for me. Obviously fit is a very individual thing so you may want to try a few from somewhere with a good return policy.
posted by piyushnz at 7:28 PM on January 1, 2021

Fleet Feet is great, but since you're in Seattle I'd just call or go to the Brooks Trailhead in Fremont. If you don't want to go in person, they're doing both free same-day delivery in Seattle and curbside pickup. They're where I got my latest running shoes, and they did a fantastic job of finding me shoes for my very difficult-to-satisfy feet. They also have a 90-day return policy so you can test drive them all you want and return them if they're not working for you.
posted by Special Agent Dale Cooper at 9:29 PM on January 1, 2021 [1 favorite]

I have high arches and I like Salomon and Saucony shoes. I have recently converted to Hoka shoes because they are so damn comfortable and I have no toe cartilage left.

In my opinion shoes make a difference for injury after 6 months of running a few miles a day my feet start hurting which is my cue to buy new shoes and then my feet stop hurting.

As others have said shin splints are a different injury that can't be addressed with shoes. If they are really shin splints then talk to a doctor who may tell you to stop running for a while and maybe do some heavy weights to build up your bone density.
posted by benzenedream at 10:49 PM on January 1, 2021

While there's controversy about shoe selection & injury prevention, I will say that realizing that my (consistent through my life) tendency to wear out the soles of my shoes on the outer edge more than the inner edge meant I actually lean toward supination rather than pronation was useful. For weird complicated reasons I'd always thought my ankles moved around too much and thought motion-control would be ideal, but when I started running in earnest this year, I learned that wasn't the case. Wearing neutral shoes that allowed more movement and paying attention to that (including the slight pronation that is supposed to happen during running to absorb some shock) felt much better.
posted by needs more cowbell at 5:26 AM on January 2, 2021

I pronate and my Brooks Adrenaline are probably the most comfortable shoes of any type I’ve ever owned. But I’d never have chosen them without someone at a running store watching me run and suggesting them to me (twice, at different places, over the years).
posted by fabius at 6:57 AM on January 2, 2021

Shoes are VERY personal choices. Not sure how you'll get a personal fitting in this environment.

I remember buying my first New Balance at their flagship store in San Francisco on Market St. That pair cost me over $200 USD, but it was personally fitted as I required 6E (XXW) (didn't know that before).

I like NB as they offer super-wide sizes and generally have very good arch support and stable heels.
posted by kschang at 9:56 AM on January 2, 2021

Response by poster: Lots of great answers, thanks so much, all!
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 9:33 PM on January 2, 2021

Very technical, and not at all useful, but for those interested in recent research:
There’s a New Way to Choose the Right Running Shoe

Conclusion: just pick what feels comfortable.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 1:54 PM on January 5, 2021

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