running- good form and good shoes

I recently started running as part of a fitness program, and have a few technical questions.

First of all, what is that correct form for running? I’ve checked some running websites and read a few articles, and so far all I can find is don’t take overly long strides and don’t lift your feet too high off the ground. Now, a friend of mine who used to be an avid runner says that when going for distance rather than speed (as most recreational runners do), you should land on the balls of your feet to lessen the shock to your joints. A quick stroll around the house on the balls of my feet shows that this provides for a much softer landing, but I find running like this awkward and tiring, and can go farther with less effort when I run heel-first, like I’ve always done. So, which is the correct form? I’d like to save my joints. I used to dislike running because it seemed silly to put so much unnecessary stress on my knees.

Also, how important is it to have the correct shoes? I only run a mile twice a week, so I’m not training for a marathon here. At the moment I have New Balance running shoes, can’t tell you more about them. But I’d like to buy new shoes, preferably ones I can wear out as well. I hate running shoes that look like this because they’re so bulky and often have hideous color combinations. Shoes like this or this are more my style, less bulky and more streamlined. So, do I need to get special running shoes, or will crosstrainers work? Can I get trail running shoes even though I’m running on pavement?

And any aditional advice would be greatly appreciated.

I have this odd feeling you can do more damage trying to forcibly correct your form than the bad form would do in the first place.

Essentially, running shoes could mean the difference between you getting hurt and not getting hurt. You need to forget the appearance of the shoe and get the proper shoe for YOUR foot.

Best advice is to go to a running specialty store and get fitted properly. New Balance has many of these stores. You can also find one near you on

The shoe that you described as more streamlined is more of a racing shoe, and does not last long. (less than a few months) The grey shoe is a trail running shoe, and is not efficient if you are only running streets, sidewalks. (weight issue)

Forget the colors. Forget the appearance. The most important factor is that the shoe fits your needs and your feet.

I suggest you join a running club or get some specific in-person training, because the internet can only do so much. And it’s full of people, like your friend, with their own opinions that may or may not be backed up by research :wink:

That being said, you absolutely need to buy a specific pair of shoes dedicated to running. The impact stress on your feet differs whether you’re playing tennis, speed-walking, or running. And not everyone’s feet rotate the same way, so you really want to have proper shoes in order to avoid injury. Go to a sports shoe store and get good advice. (If they don’t let you run around the block in 'em, you’re not getting good advice.) Forget about wearing them with jeans just to go out.

As for your stride, do whatever’s comfortable. I look pretty damn lazy when I run, since me feet barely come off the ground, but if my wife tries that, she trips. And don’t worry about the balls of your feet absorbing the impact-- that’s what your brand new expensive shoes are for :smiley:

Don’t run in cross trainers. They are not running shoes. While the short distances you are running now probably wouldn’t be a problem, if you increase your distance, they will be. They’re too still and have too little padding for running shoes.

On the other hand, Reebok black “Classic Leather” cross trainers are far more comfortable than dress shoes, but look enough like dress shoes that you can wear them to the office.

Generally speaking, if you’re not overstriding and landing directly on your heels, you’ll be okay. I can’t remember where, but I read that your foot should be landing about underneath your nose, or maybe a little ahead. If you want to speed up just take more steps per second instead of longer steps.

I tend to land more flat footed now, maybe a little on the balls of my feet (I have strong calves so I tend to use them to take up slack on long runs when I start getting tired). I started doing this after I learned about overstriding the hard way–wound up on the couch for a couple of weeks, healing up my ankles. Not fun.

Basically, at this stage, just keep in mind that you’re running for fitness and not trying to win a race or anything like that. Just pick a nice easy pace that you can breathe comfortably at and you should be fine.


If possible, find a store owned and operated by a local runner. I’ll never forget the day I first let the owner of such a store convince me to buy a pair of shoes I had not originally considered, from a brand I had never worn, in a size that wasn’t my usual, and which I wasn’t totally convinced would work for me. She said “Give 'em a week. If you don’t like them, bring 'em back.” It only took a 15 minute jog to see that the shoes were perfect for me. YMMV, of course, but you’ve got to have a little faith in the experience of others. Don’t forget to take your old shoes to the store with you; an experienced shoe salesperson can tell a lot about you by examining how your shoes have worn down.

Shoes: You want those “training” shoes. Racing shoes are built to be light, and to be raced in. They are not built for support or cushioning. Off road shoes are going to be heavier, and probably less stable on pavement than a training shoe.

Look here.

The 1st are 4th shoe are your basic, cushioned running shoe. That’s like what I wear. My wife wears something like the second one. It’s big and bulky, but she’s flat-footed and needs a lot of support. It doesn’t allow her foot to roll over which stresses the ankle, knees, and probably hips.

As for a shoe-store fitting or something, I’ve never done that. I think you can over-analyze a bit, and not really know if the shoe is good or bad for you until you put 30+ miles on it. But, they should be able to point you in the right direction.

Stride: I think that I have a very comfortable, low impact, efficient stride. I plant my heel first almost directly under me, and just roll over my foot. It looks like the stride of someone on a treadmill. It’s a very short stride, and I look a little more like I’m rolling over the road than running on it. I trained for and ran a marathon with this stride with a bad knee. It’s not the fastest way to run, though. For that, you’d want to be more up on your toes.

But like someone else said, you might do more damage trying to mess with your natural stride too much. I know some excellent runners with some poor looking strides.

Yea. And you absolutely need to use 99.999% pure, oxygen-free copper speakers wires in your stereo system. :rolleyes:

I’ve been jogging 5 days a week for over 10 years, so I guess I know a little about it.

If you’re new to jogging and your legs or feet hurt, “snoggers” (snobby joggers) will sanctimoniously tell you that you need “better shoes.” They will tell you brand X or Y running shoes, which are “designed” for running and happen to cost $150 a pair, should fix the problem.

So you go out and buy the $150 shoes. And lo-and-behold the muscle pains go away! But was it really due to the shoes? Keep in mind that, if you’re new to jogging, your leg muscles will hurt a little for the first week or two. Buying new shoes during the first week or two will make it appear the shoes “fixed” the problem, when in reality the pains would have subsided anyway after your muscles got stretched & worked.

So IMO, the biggest lie in jogging is that you must spend $150 (or whatever) on a pair of specialized “running shoes.” Most people who believe this lie would be surprised to learn that $14 Wal-Mart shoes usually work fine. That’s what I’ve worn for the last 10 years, and I haven’t had any problems…

I don’t think that’s what he meant Crafter Man.

He meant don’t buy cross-trainers, or shoes for step aerobics, or basketball shoes, or court shoes. He meant “buy shoes for running.” He didn’t say “buy $150 shoes”.

And maybe he also meant, “don’t use these shoes for other things.”

My wife has real problems with her legs if she gets a wrong pair of shoes. I could probably run barefoot and it wouldn’t bother me, but some people have specific needs. I don’t think you need to spend $150 to meet those needs, but I also don’t think som $14.95 wal*mart special is meeting them either.

I’m kind of with Crafter_Man on this one. I wouldn’t run out and spend your wad on some expensive running shoes right away. Frankly, if you’re only running two miles a week, you could do it barefoot on your tippy toes and it really wouldn’t make much difference. Cross trainers, trail running shoes, friggin Keds, whatever. Like someone else said earlier, they won’t be efficient, but who cares! You’re not running to win a race. I have been training in trail running shoes for the last few months because I found the particular pair I bought to be a lot more comfortable and have a lot more spring than any of the other shoes I tried.

That said, if you start picking up your miles, look into <i>some</i> sort of decent running shoe. The most important part is that it’s comfortable and provides the support/cushioning you need.