Men's Running Shoes Tips

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Don't Risk Knee Injuries in Old Running Shoes

Not to be too hard on the guys out there, but if you run in shoes that are so worn out that the treads are smooth and the padding inside the heel is worn through, you may be at increased risk for knee injuries. And if you do get hurt, it may be more serious for you than for your female counterparts. Reseach presented at the annual meeting of the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine suggests that men with ACL injuries have more cartilage lesions than women, which can increase the risk for osteoarthritis later in life.

While you can't guarantee injury freedom by replacing your shoes, you can make your joints happier by replacing your running shoes after 350-500 miles. Can't bear to part with them? Save a pair for yard work, and donate others to a good cause, such as Soles for Souls.

Your joints will thank you, and so will the good cause!

Do you have tips on a more comfortable running shoe fit?

Air, Gel, and Other Cushioning Tricks

Many running shoe manufacturers use proprietary cushioning devices. These include various configurations of air bladders, gel or liquid pads, as well as wedges, layers and compressed capsules of foam (typically EVA or polyurethane).

Every cushioning system has its fans, but all are designed to do the same thing: reduce the shock that's transferred to your body on impact. While the air, gel and liquid systems may retain their cushioning ability longer than foam, virtually all of them are contained within foam, so the extended life of these shoes is arguable.

Your best bet is to find a shoe that fits you well and suits how you run (overpronate, neutral, etc.). If it feels good when you run in it, don't worry about the air, gel, or other add-ins. If you need more cushioning than your shoe offers, most of them accommodate after-market insoles. Simply remove the shoe's original insole, and replace it with one of these cushioned gel or foam inserts.


Shoes for "Clydesdales"

Heavier men (180 pounds and above) really punish their knees when they run. These “Clydesdales,” as they're sometimes called, usually require extra cushioning in their running shoes. Many heavier runners also find they benefit from a shoe offering additional stability. Heavy runners generally shouldn't train in lightweight shoes, as these shoes offer less cushioning.


A Lacing Trick for High Insteps

Some runners with high insteps find the pressure from shoelaces uncomfortable. This little trick relieves pressure on your high instep, but still provides a secure fit.

Lace your running shoes with a normal criss-cross to just below the halfway point. Then put the laces straight up through the next two sets of eyelets – no crossing over the tongue. Finally, criss-cross the laces through the remaining eyelets normally. This results in “gap” in the center, which puts less pressure on your instep.


A Lacing Trick for Loose Heels

Loose heels - in a running shoe that otherwise fits perfectly - is a common complaint amongst runners. While you don't want to run in a shoe if the heels are sloppy, here's a way to get around a minor fit issue: “lock lacing.”

Lace your shoes normally until there are only two eyelets open. Bring your laces up through each of the lower eyelets, and then down through the eyelet immediately above. Your laces should now form a series of X's topped by a pair of I's.

Next, pass each lace under the I on the opposite side. Now, when you tighten and tie the shoe, it will naturally tighten up the heel slightly. This system also stays tightly tied better than traditional lacing.

The only downside is that you'll find lock lacing is harder to loosen, too.


Accomodating Wide Feet

Moving to a larger size shoe to accommodate wide feet can create problems, since the toe box and arch will no longer be in the appropriate relative positions. Men with wide feet simply need wide running shoes.

The good news is that some shoe manufacturers offer running shoes in multiple widths. (While most manufacturers offer no more than two widths, New Balance offers most of their better shoes in three or more widths.)


Know When to Replace Your Shoes

Running shoes wear out – but it's not obvious when they do. By the time most running shoes' soles show significant wear, it's long past the time to replace them. Here's why: The midsole – the shock absorbing layer of a shoe – of most running shoes is made either partly or entirely of a dense foam called EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate). Each time your foot lands, it compresses the EVA - which absorbs much of the shock - and then the EVA re-expands when you take your weight off the shoe. You know how Homer Simpson's couch has a depression where he sits? Well, that's what happens to EVA over time: It loses the ability to bounce back. You don't notice it, because it happens very gradually. But every footfall reduces the foam's effectiveness. By the time you've used a pair of shoes for 300 – 500 miles, the foam has lost enough “bounce” that the shoes should be replaced. Typically, lightweight runners can go closer to the 500 mile mark, while heavy runners will have to replace their running shoes at closer to 300 miles. Also, if you run outdoors in all weather vs. indoors on a treadmill, your shoes will wear out more quickly.


A Quick Lesson in Shoe Anatomy

Today, men's running shoes are pretty technical. But they also have a lot in common with most others. Here's a quick-and-dirty tour of the major pats of a men's running shoe:

• The Upper. This is the fabric or leather portion of the shoe that encloses the top and sides of your foot from heel to toe.

• Inner Sole. The inner sole is the (usually) removable padded liner that cradles your foot.

• Mid-sole. This is the shoe's workhorse, and contains the cushioning layers and devices (if any).

• Outer sole. This is where the rubber meets the road – literally. It's the bottom surface of your shoe.

• Heel counter. This is a stiff (usually fiberboard or plastic) insert that cups the heel.

• Toe Box. The forward portion of the shoe that encloses your toes.

• Last. The “frame” on which the shoe was built. It's also used to describe the way the shoe was constructed – either with a board, fabric (slip), or a combination of both beneath the innersole.


Find a Shoe Built for Your Foot

Running shoes not only have different shapes, they have different internal structures. Most running shoes are built in one of three ways: board-lasted, slip-lasted and combination-lasted. To see which type of build a shoe has, simply pull out the inner sole. If you find a stiff cardboard-like material running the length of the shoe, it's board-lasted. This design is best for runners who need maximum stability. If there is merely fabric stitched together up the length of the shoe, it's slip-lasted. This design provides maximum flexibility, and is best for neutral runners. Combination-lasted shoes are a compromise. They have the “board” in the rear portion of the shoe, while the front is slip-lasted. These shoes offer more stability than a slip-lasted shoe, but less than one with a board last.


Find a Shoe Shaped for Your Foot

Running shoes are built on a “last,” which determines the shape of the sole. There are basically three shapes of last: straight, semi-curved and curved.

The greater the curve of the last, the more flexible the shoe is likely to be. Conversely, straight-lasted shoes tend to be less flexible. So, a runner who needs motion control in his shoe usually does better with one built on a straight last.


Off-Road Shoes

If you run on rough trails, chances are you need a “multisport” running shoe. These shoes are designed to provide support and grip on a variety of surfaces, and are built to withstand more lateral motion than a regular running shoe.

Multi sport running shoes are available both from some major running shoe companies – and from several companies that make hiking and climbing boots. The multisport running shoes from these hiking boot manufacturers are often rugged enough to use for serious hiking – something the average shoe isn't designed to do.


Choose a Shoe to Match Your Foot Type

There are three basic types of footfall: overpronation, neutral, and underpronation/supination.

Overpronators – those whose feet roll excessively inwards – usually need over-pronator shoes with devices to prevent the excessive roll when running.

Underpronators/supinators - whose feet either roll inward too little or roll outwards slightly – often require additional cushioning, and may benefit from a shoe with greater stability.

Runners with a neutral gait generally need little or no motion control.

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