Selecting the Correct Type of Running Shoe

Coach Paul Greer of the San Diego Track Club has been helping runners train for the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Marathon & 1/2 for 20 years running! In this series, we’ll feature tips, workouts and programs, courtesy of Coach, that will help you conquer your first or 100th marathon!

The human foot is comprised of some 28 bones, 20 muscles and tendons, 112 ligaments and 33 joints. The individual characteristics of each of these components and how they work together create an endless variety of feet and foot movement. I believe by understanding the characteristics of your feet and their motion through analysis at a specialty running store, by a podiatrist or through your own observations, you can take the initiative to make sure that you end up in a running shoe that best serves your needs.

First, I suggest you begin by determining your own foot strike and motion. When you run, do you land on your forefoot or your heel? If you land on your forefoot, you need a cushioned shoe. If you land on your heel, it’s determined by one of the following factors:

  1. Do you roll up the outside edge of your foot?
  2. Do you roll pretty evenly up the center area of the foot?
  3. Do you roll toward the inside edge of your forefoot to toe-off?

This can be difficult to determine, especially since wear patterns on your old shoes can be misleading. The ideal standard is biomechanical analysis of your gait. A less technical method is to stand on a flat surface with your knees bent and your feet flat. Ask a friend to look at your Achilles tendons. Do they curve or tilt noticeably inward from vertical or do they remain fairly straight up and down?

If you fall into the first category, you are probably part of the 65% of the general population who overpronates, which means you roll to the inside edge of the foot. Severe overpronators need a motion control shoe to help curb this extraneous motion. Milder overpronators need a stability shoe, which provides structure to guide your foot to a more neutral motion. If your Achilles remains relatively vertical, you are among the 30% who have neutral feet and simply need cushioned shoes.

Next, determine the shape of your foot by the following criteria:

  1. Approximately 35% of us have high arches and require curved shoes.
  2. 40% of us have medium arches and require semi-curved shoes.
  3. The remaining 25% of us have minimal to no arches and require semi-straight or straight lasted shoes.

Please feel free now to use this shoe information as a starting place to view many of the latest offerings from shoe companies. Good luck!

About Coach Paul Greer

Coach Paul Greer is Professor in Health and Exercise Science at San Diego City College and has a Master’s Degree in Exercise Science and 32 years coaching experience. Greer ran the mile in under four minutes (3:59.79) and was a 1992 U.S. Olympic Trials qualifier at 1500 meters with a 3:39.05. In addition to teaching at San Diego City, Greer also coaches for the San Diego Track Club; the largest running club in San Diego. He works with over 500 runners and is the Director for the Rockin N Runnin full and half marathon training program preparing athletes every year for San Diego’s Rock N Roll marathon/half marathon in June. Greer’s workouts cater for runners of all ages and abilities and he provides training schedules to his athletes on an individual basis.

Coach Paul Greer was featured in The Game Changer, the debut episode of Milestones, a video series that celebrates and commemorate the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series history.