Steps to entry level runners

With summer around the corner, it’s a wonderful time to get your fitness on, but to do so you’ll need to invest in a good pair of runner shoes. With the help of experts, Moneybags writer, Alina Hardcastle, breaks down the key properties one should look out for when purchasing a pair of entry-level trainers.

Intended Use

When entering a store, it can be incredibly daunting browsing through all the different ranges of shoes. To make life easier, determine you running surface. The ASICS South Africa team says: “You can exclude a vast number of models straightaway by focusing on what exactly you’re going to be doing with them.”

So ask yourself, will you be road running, running on a purpose-built track or perhaps on a forest trail? As each of these surfaces require a different kind of shoe. The ASICS team also highlight that there is a basic distinction between racing and running shoes.

Pronation Type

It’s very important to know your pronation type when purchasing any kind of sport shoe. “This kind of knowledge, if adhered to, could prevent bleeding blisters and the like”, says ASICS.

So what does pronation mean? The term pronation is used to explain the way your foot rolls when you walk and run. Damon Mostert, Adidas South Africa’s sport marketing assistant elaborates: “It is part of the natural movement that helps the lower leg deal with shock. Some people pronate more (over-pronation) or less (under-pronation) than others. If this is you then you will need a special shoe that offers you the support you need while running.”

In order to determine what kind of runner you are, it’s important that beginner runners receive a foot scan. The ASICS team suggests visiting a running specialist store like, Sweatshop, RUN store and Athletes foot, so that experts can assess your feet and advise the best fit for them.

Other properties to consider

Beginner runners should also take the following properties into account when fitting on a pair of running shoes:

  • Size (length): A good running shoe should also have a bit of extra room in your shoe for slight movement when running. The ASIC team says: “Generally, you need to be able to measure a finger’s width of space between your big toe and the tip of the shoe.”
  • Size (width): Keep in mind that width is as equally important as the length of the shoe. ASICS says: “People are not always built in perfect proportion and often have wider or narrower feet than the ‘norm’.” Those who have problems with the width of a shoe, will generally experience friction between their foot and the shoe and are at risk of getting blisters. A wide or narrow shoe last is recommended for those who experience these problems.
  • Weight: The lighter the shoe, the better. Mostert says: “When running, it helps if your shoes are light as this means less weight when you run and can help you run faster and longer distances with less issues.”
  • The grip: A running shoes grip is probably one of the most important aspects of the shoe. Mostert says: “The more grip you have the less little slips you have with every stride [which] means you do not lose ground when running.”
  • Socks: Socks also play an important role when purchasing running shoes. ASICS says: “Shoes and socks together create the ultimate fit, and provide a healthy environment for your foot, minimising heat, friction and moisture – which can only improve your comfort and, by extension, your performance.”

The questions you should be asking

When looking to purchase a pair of running shoes from a retail store, Mostert suggests putting forward the following questions:

  • What type of millage can you get out of the shoe?
  • Is there a warranty or guarantee on the shoes?
  • Is there a weight limit for the shoes?
  • Does the retailer have shoes for people who pronate, are neutral or natural?
  • Is the upper of the shoes durable?
  • What are the limitations of the shoe? I.e. can I train in it and run in it or is does it only have one purpose.
  • What does the shoe weigh?

On other hand, John Andrew, product line manager at New Balance South Africa says: “The consumer should not be asking, he should be telling the sales person the specifics of what he wants to do in the running shoe and then the salesman will show him the selection suited to his requirements.”

Denver Fortuin, head of the running footwear department at Sportsmans Warehouse Sea Point, highlights that it’s important that consumers inform salesmen of any previous injuries that have been endured. He also suggests consumers communicate their brand preference.

Recommended pairs of running shoes

On average entry level running shoes can range from anything between R800 and R1500. When enquiring about shoe recommendations, the experts suggested the following:

  • New Balances shoe called 390 which retails for R1000 ( Andrews’ suggestion)
  • Adidas Durama retailing at R1000 ( Fortuin’s suggestion)
  • Nike winflo retailing at R1300 ( Fortuin’s suggestion)
  • Asics ContenD retailing at R900 ( Fortuin’s suggestion)
  • Adidas response boost running shoe retailing for R1600 (Mostert’s suggestion)
  • Asics fuzeX Lyte women’s running shoe retailing at R1300 ( Mundy’ suggestion)

Mostert also suggests that beginner’s visit Solereview, this site rates all the shoes aound the world and gives in-depth reviews.

Taking care of your running shoes

Running shoes aren’t necessarily cheap, so it’s important to look after them. Fortuin suggests the follow:

  • Don’t put them in a washing machine or dryer.
  • Dry shoes away from direct heat, remebering to stuff them with crumpled paper.
  • Always loosen the laces when putting on or taking them off.

Final recommendation

It’s necessary to do your research when buying a pair of running shoes as this can not only improve your run but prevent unnecessary injuries.

Mostert concludes: “Consumers often look at the price of a running shoe and say that it is too expensive. However, you need to look at it as an investment, you are investing in a product that will keep you comfortable, prevent injuries and potentially last you over a year, depending on how often you run. Buying a good running shoe is to invest in your health, fitness and your sport.”