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All About the Sneakies!

Let's talk about every runner's favorite.....SNEAKERS!

It may be one of our favorite things to go shopping for but it is certainly not the easiest. There are so many factors that go into finding the perfect running shoe. My first advice to runners is to go to your local running store and get properly fitted! That is your best starting point, I can't stress that enough. You may have lived your whole life running in a size 7 but may learn that you are in fact not truly a size 7! This article will go over several factors, such as fit, stack, heel drop, etc., that should be considered when choosing the right sneaker for you!


Let us start with fit! Possibly one of the most important aspects of finding the right shoe for you. There should be a full thumbs width between your longest toe and the tip of the shoe. Yes, notice I said longest toe...this may not necessarily be your big toe. For many, the second toe is the longest, so pay attention to this! Leaving your toes enough room in the toe box will help prevent runner's toe.

Everything should feel comfortable. If something doesn't feel right or something is nabbing at you, move on! 'Breaking in' sneakers is not a real thing. The way sneakers feel at the start is exactly how they will feel in a few weeks. There is no 'breaking in' period. Yes, you should gradually rotate a new pair of shoes into your running but you should not be 'breaking in' sneakers so they become more comfortable. It doesn't matter how pretty they may be, if they are not comfortable then kick 'em to the curb.


Another factor to consider is the type of shoe you are looking at, is it a stability or neutral shoe? Stability shoes help counteract excessive pronation. Pronation is the rolling inward of the foot. It is natural to pronate a little but excessive pronation can cause many common overuse injuries in runners. If you have flat arches or tend to pronate, a stability shoe will help stabilize your foot during impact. Neutral shoes have no stabilizing features and allows the foot to do its natural motion.

It is important to note that if you wear any sort of orthotic or shoe insert, it is most appropriate to wear a neutral shoe. This might sound counterintuitive, but the insert you are wearing is already working to stabilize your foot. So, wearing an insert to stabilize your foot, along with a stability shoe is overkill on the stability. At this point you are just overcorrecting. Also, don't just use a shoe insert if a shoe store associate suggests it. Yes, it may help, but it is best to go to a podiatrist or an orthopedist to get an assessment.


Heel drop is the the difference in height between the heel and the toe in the shoe. Running sneakers range from approximately 0mm-14mm. The higher the drop, the higher the distance between the heel and toe. Heel drop effects how forces are loaded on the foot and subsequently on the rest of your body. For this reason, it is thought that heel drop can contribute to common overuse injuries or alternatively can be used to combat injuries. A lower heel drop loads more heavily on the ankles and calves, while a higher heel drop loads more heavily on the knees. For example, if you are prone to knee injuries theoretically you should wear a lower drop shoe. Experts debate the validity of this correlation between heel drop and injuries but it is something to keep in mind.

When shoe shopping be aware of the heel drop you are currently running in and the heel drop of the shoe you are looking at. It is perfectly fine to change heel drop, as long as your body tolerates it, but it is important to transition to a new drop gradually to avoid injury.


The stack height of a shoe is the total height of the midsole of the shoe, from the ground to the insole surface. As you would imagine, stack height has an impact on how your foot contacts the surface. Stack height can vary from 1mm- 30mm. Higher stack heights provide more cushion and shock absorption. On the other hand, a lower stack height provides less cushioning and more contact with the ground. Stack height can vary between the heel and toe or it could remain the same throughout. This is reflective of heel drop, which we just discussed.

Higher stack heights provide more cushion and shock absorption. This can help lower the impact, which can be important for injury prone runners. However, the extra cushioning can reduce ground feel and stability. Lower stack heights have less cushioning but provides more contact with the ground which increases stability.

Other factors to consider when choosing stack height is your foot strike and the type of runs you will use this sneaker for. If you are a heel striker, it would be beneficial to have a higher stack height to reduce impact on the heel. If you are a forefoot striker, a higher stack is less necessary. Higher stack heights are more appropriate for recovery runs and easy pace long runs to provide more cushioning. Lower stack heights are better suited for speed workouts so the runner has more contact with the ground and more stability. There are pros and cons to each and it really comes down to the runner's preference.


Buying based on looks may be one of the biggest sneaker selection mistakes. Yes, some sneakers look so pretty but that does not mean they are comfortable! I can't tell you how many times I've tried on an awesome looking pair of sneakers and wanted to love them so bad because of how they looked but wanted to cry within the first two steps of trying them on. It sucks! But when it comes to running shoes don't buy for looks. Pain is not beauty in this case!

Shopping at the wrong time of day is also a common mistake. No, I don't mean hitting the store during peak hours! Many people shop in the morning, but your feet swell throughout the day and then by 4pm the sneakers feel too small. It's better to go in the afternoon to factor this into your sizing and comfortability in the shoe because let's not forget that our feet swell when we run!

Assuming your size is another big mistake. All my life I have worn a size 7 and now I am wearing a size 8. I was always wearing too small shoes and I think this is true for many runners. Many assume their size based on their everyday shoes and just stick with it rather than getting properly fitted. We often need to size up in running shoes compared to our everyday shoes, for reasons such as swelling and avoiding runner's toe. We should also get fitted often because as we get older our feet change and you may need to adjust your size. This all ties into another common mistake...not going to a running shop! Take the time and make the trip there, you won't regret it!

If you've been told that running is a cheap hobby, you have been lied to my friend! Running is expensive but it is worth the investment. QUALITY running sneakers can range anywhere from the low hundreds to close to three hundred dollars. The cost hurts sometimes but sneakers are one of the most essential parts of running. So invest in you and in a good shoe!

So what sneakers are you running in? Leave a comment below to connect! Follow HIT YOUR PACE on facebook and instagram for more running tips. Visit to explore 1:1 coaching and training plan options!

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