One of the main benefits of running as a form of exercise, and why so many people take it up when starting to get fit, is that it is relatively inexpensive. You can make great progress with your running without spending a great deal of money on expensive equipment or clothing especially when you’re just looking for running shoes for beginners.
This article will help answer why choosing the right running shoes is important and provide some recommendations for our favourite beginner running shoes.
Why do I need to invest in a good pair of running shoes?
It’s all about tailoring your footwear choice to the specific needs of your chosen sport.
You would probably invest in a decent pair of football boots if you were serious about taking up football. Or a reasonable pair of golf shoes if you were visiting the golf course every week. The same goes for running.
Everyday sports footwear with minimal support (e.g. fashion trainers or Converse) are great for activities where you need to keep your feet flat – you’d have no problem wearing them for strength training for example.
But fashion trainers or Converse don’t have the support or breathability to be a sensible choice for consistent ongoing running activity.
We’d recommend that a good pair of running shoes are essential if you’re serious get into running, as they provide the necessary support and cushioning for your feet, which can help prevent injuries.
But the good news is that a good pair of running shoes for a beginner runner shouldn’t cost the earth. We absolutely wouldn’t encourage you to pay over the odds for premium running shoes with all the bells and whistles at this point in your running journey.
That said, choosing the right first running shoes for your running style and running preferences is important.
Some running shoes are designed for people who primarily run on roads, and others for those who prefer to run on trails. And the type of running shoe you need can also be dependent on your gait.
Which size should I buy?
To go back to the advice from Lee Trouts, as a beginner runner, it’s important that you feel comfortable in your shoes, so we would recommend trying on a few different sizes to see which fits best.
However, generally speaking, it is recommended to go for a size up in your running shoes, as your feet tend to swell when you run – so a little bigger is better than too tight.
Some suggestions for budget running shoes for beginners
We have found 3 great options for beginner running shoes that we think you will love to go running in.
Why we rate it… If you don’t want to spend a fortune and you have a neutral running style, these are some of the best beginner running shoes we have found. This budget running shoe is light weight and is designed for runners that run up to 10km per week.
Great for… An excellent running shoe for neutral runners on a budget.
How much do they cost? From £14.99
Feeling Keen? Here are some Reviews…
I love all the Kalenji running shoes and have tried most of them. Whether buying the more expensive or cheaper ones, they are all good value for money.Michael
I now have 2 pairs of these trainers. I bought them specifically for walking and they are so comfortable and lightweight. They look good too and they are an amazing priceJane
Why we rate it… It’s made with a lightweight mesh upper and is cushioned to provide good shock absorption, making it ideal for long runs or everyday use. The sole is durable and provides good traction on a variety of surfaces.
Great for… The Asics Gel-Zirrus 4 is a neutral running shoe designed for beginners.
How much do they cost? From £69.99
Feeling Keen? Here are some Reviews…
Very comfortable shoes, well built and I bought them at a great priceDavid
I have bad knees and these shoes are the most comfortable I have found.Jen
Why we rate it…The TR is almost a hybrid running shoe – designed to have better traction for trail running, but also ideal for running on short stretches of road.
Great for… If your running routes take you both on light trails and the road, these affordable trail shoes could be the best running shoe for you.
How much do they cost? From £34.99
Feeling Keen? Here are some Reviews…
Comparable to a well known brand costing more than twice the price.Pat
Great shoes for the price range. Perfect for those of us who want to enjoy a sport on a budget. Really comfortable and with good grip, helped a lot on muddy runsAnna
How to find out your arch type
It’s very easy to find out your arch type by simply doing the ‘wet foot test’. To perform the test you’ll need a basin of water and a square of cardboard or paper big enough to fit your foot on. To perform the test simply lay down the card on the floor and dip your foot in the water ensuring the entire bottom of your foot gets wet.
Now lift your foot out of the water and shake off any excess water and then place it lightly onto the card for a few seconds. Now remove your foot and look at the print you have made. The print should show you your heel, the ball of your foot, and joining the two your arch. That is the important bit – look at your arch and compare it to the chart below to know what arch you have:
Once you know your arch you can then start to look towards getting trainers or shoes that are made for your type of pronation. A lot of specialist shops will sell trainers designed for certain types of pronation and you should hopefully find that getting the right trainer helps with your overall performance and reduces the chance of pain whilst running.
How running shoes should fit
Most runners will tell you that they normally go up a size or even a size and a half to get running shoes that fit and are comfortable. Your feet can swell when running, so your shoes need to be supportive mile after mile.
Some brands like Nike and Brooks, offer a certain amount of miles/days you can run in the shoes and still return if they are not comfortable. Not every brand does this though, so please make sure you check their terms and conditions before you buy.
Using our handy guide to check how you pronate, you can look for the type of shoes you need. Running shoes are often labeled as neutral, support, or stability and these will ensure that your shoes give you the ultimate comfort, protection, and support needed.
Another pro tip is to look at how to lace up your shoes. There are different ways depending on whether you have a wide toe box, wide feet in general, small ankles, to stop you from getting numb feet, and many more. There will be a way that works for you, and it may take a few different ways before you find the right style.
Which running shoes should you buy?
Most trainers are very similar – they’re lightweight whilst at the same time provide cushioning for your feet and generally will curve upwards at the toes to help the rolling motion of running feet. But is there more to it? Why do some cost £100’s whilst others will cost you £20? Well, it’s mostly about brand and style. For the most part, there is very little difference in the materials or construction of the trainers you buy, so spending a lot more on some that look a bit better could be a waste of your money.
There are so many brands of running shoes, that even for a seasoned runner, it can be a bit overwhelming with regards to what running shoes you should buy. The best thing to do is to go into a shop and try some on when you get your gait analysed but if that is not possible, do your research, and also ask your fellow runners.
Everyone has a preference but some do fit better than others and there are a wide range of running shoes within a brand, all with varying price tags. Check for offers, some of the previous season’s shoes will be cheaper, especially if a new model is due to be released.
The main brands that are recommended most are Nike, Brooks, Asics, Saucony, Hoka, Adidas, ON, New Balance, and Mizuno. There are lots more brands though so there will be a perfect running shoe for you out there. You do not have to buy the prettiest shoes or the brightest, you do have to make sure they fit right and work for you.
You should always try trainers on before committing to them. Go to a local store and try on all the pairs you like, get a feel for them, and be sure they’ll do the job before buying as you don’t want to be a few weeks into your training suffering from sore feet or blisters from ill-fitting shoes.
What is gait analysis and why is it important?
Assuming you’ve been on Google or Reddit as part of your research for starting running, you might have come across an ongoing debate about the value of gait analysis for experienced runners, and whether or not it makes a valuable difference.
We’d advise you not to let this debate for experienced runners affect your judgement as someone who is just beginning to run – it can be a really important exercise to help you avoid injuries.
We spoke to Lee Trouts from Ramsbottom Running Club who advised:
The single most important thing for beginner runners is to get their gait analysed. Take advice from the staff about which shoes suit your needs the best, and then try on a variety of options. At the beginning stage of running, it’s all about finding what is most comfortable.
We would agree with Lee, and recommend visiting an independent running shop in your local area, which will often be able to provide gait analysis free of charge. Alternatively, your local branch of Up and Running or Runners Need will be able to accommodate.
Your gait will be unique to you, and it’s best to get expert advice, but you are likely to fall into one of four categories:
When you severely overpronate, the heel strikes the ground first, then rolls in excessively. This is most common in runners with flat feet, and you are likely to be recommended a motion control shoe for support and control.
This occurs when the heel strikes the ground first and then rolls in slightly, and is commonly seen in runners with a low arch. You’re most likely to be advised to use a stability shoe, which provides a good balance between support and cushioning.
This is the case for most runners – where you don’t tend to overpronate or under pronate, and is typically seen in runners with a medium arch. The best type of shoe for a neutral runner is a neutral cushioning shoe which makes up approximately 85% of the running shoe market.
Underpronation / Supination
This is typically seen in runners with high arches when the heel hits the ground first and then stays on the outside of your foot as you continue to run. You’re most likely to be advised to wear a high cushioning shoe.
Why do you need gait analysis?
Gait analysis is ideal to have done before you begin training or upping your mileage – having the right shoes for your run will mean fewer injuries, and your feet won’t ache or get sore throughout the run as your shoes have the right support depending on your stride.
Having a full gait analysis done will also provide you the opportunity to see how you run and check what you’re doing, some people never see how they run, but being able to check it can help runners to work on their stride, heel strike and footfall.
It can help with checking out some common issues such as slow cadence or lack of core strength. Getting to the bottom of these issues before you begin training will mean you reduce the risk of injury and can get advice on how to mix core work or yoga into your plan.
It’s also good for those who may have been wearing a neutral or stability-style shoe, but actually need a support shoe for example. By getting checked, you can work out which shoes are best and get to try them out in store and check your gait on the treadmill.
What is your running gait?
Before we look into why getting your gait analysed is essential, it’s best to look at what your running gait actually is and what it means.
There are five phases to each stride you run – and how you place your foot on the ground and lift it back up during each stride, is called your gait.
The five phases are:
- Stance – When your foot hits the ground
- Loading – Your heel hitting the ground before your forefoot also touches the ground
- Mid-stance – The point at which your heel lifts and flexes your forefoot
- Toe-off – When your foot leaves the ground
- Swing – The time taken between your foot leaving the ground and hitting it again.
When you walk, jog or run your foot has its own rolling movement called pronation and injuries can happen when these are over or under pronounced.
Your ankle and foot will roll evenly with normal pronation – this is often known as neutral running.
If your foot rolls under or over then you are under-pronating or over-pronating and having shoes that support that type of stride will ensure your feet and ankles stay as stable as possible.