Put your best foot forward for New Year fitness push
Bit baffled about which running shoes are best for you? Abi Jackson quizzes some experts
Does running feature in your 2016 fitness goals? As one of the most convenient and efficient forms of exercise out there, it's little wonder why more and more people are catching the jogging bug - but while the simplicity of running is no doubt a big part of the appeal, getting the kit right can be daunting for beginners, and one of the things you'll want to consider is your footwear.
If you're a newbie, you might not want to spend a fortune, but it's worth remembering that a lot of technology goes into developing running shoes and, ultimately, it's about avoiding injury, as well as enhancing performance and enjoyment.
So what should we be looking out for? Here, experts explain the key points.
"Every runner is different, and every run is different. A good running shoe should cater for exactly what you need," says Angus Wardlaw, director of FUTURE Running at Adidas.
The key design elements in any shoe, he notes, are the outsole, midsole, and upper, all of which serve a vital purpose in the overall function, stability and comfort of the shoe.
"The outsole, normally made of rubber, provides the grip for the runner. When running in mud or on trails, the outsole needs to have a deeper and more aggressive set of lugs that perform like a mountain bike tyre.
"The midsole is what provides the cushioning and gives you the comfort under your heel when running. The upper is what wraps your foot and is responsible for giving a running shoe its comfortable fit and support.
"Different combinations of upper, midsole and outsole are used to build running shoes that meet the needs of any athlete."
MADE WITH PURPOSE
What if you already have a decent enough pair of trainers, can't you just run in them? Lots of us are guilty of using the same footwear for all our fitness activities, whether it's a gym class, weights workout or jog, and that's not always a bad thing, as it is possible to get a decent all-rounder - but it can be.
Again, it depends on the shoe specifics and your needs, but if you are aiming to run frequently, investing in a shoe that's designed for running could make a big difference - and likewise, suitability should be considered for other activities too.
Franz Rott, director at FUTURE Sport Science at Adidas says: "A versatile training shoe will provide some stability to help with lifting, some cushioning to help with running and then some support for jumps and lateral movements. People who want to focus on specific aspects of training can pick more specialised shoes, for example; a shoe for aerobic training should be lightweight, have some shock absorption and a flexible forefoot, whereas a shoe for lifting weights should have a firm, flat sole with grip on the ground to support a secure stance. A shoe for gym classes, which includes jumping and side-to-side shuffling, needs lateral support, a good grip and some cushioning."
KNOW YOUR NEEDS
Considering your needs in terms of a shoe takes in the terrain you'll be running on, how often and how far you'll be running, plus additional factors, such as the shape of your foot, any problems you have with gait, pain or injuries and the way your foot touches down when you run.
Talking to a specialist stockist and having your gait analysed (Runners Need offer this service in various UK locations: www.runnersneed.com) can help identify any individual needs in this area. Some of these things can be addressed with the right shoe, but other options - such as specialist insoles - can be considered, too.