Your Runner Foot Type and the Quest for the Perfect Running Shoe

It may take some searching but eventually we all fall in love with the perfect pair of running shoes. How’s that for living happily ever after? ;)
perfect nike shoe
A great thing about running is that you really don’t need that much: a pair of shoes and please some running clothes too. However, what those supplies lack in quantity numbers they make up exponentially when it comes to their needs in the quality factor. Reread that sentence a few times until it makes sense…haha.

Running shoes are of insane importance, many new runners (and even not so new runners) aren’t able to grasp just how crucial having the right kind of shoes for THEIR foot type is. The three major foot types are: pronators, supinators and neutral runners; the majority of runners are pronators. We all fall on different variances of the foot type spectrum, but if you don’t know your foot and it’s specific needs you really need to school up.

Prontators. These are the guys who’s arches ‘sink’ in and roll to the ground as they walk. If you were walking in sand you’d see a ‘fatter’ footprint. This is the majority of the public and it’s important to find shoes with support in the arches. If your REALLY cave in at the arch you need motion control shoes, a step below that would be stability shoes. Sometimes people need arch support inserts or orthotics in addition to their shoes, I run in Super Feet and those would be my top suggestion for over the counter shoe inserts.

Neutral Feet. These are the people you should love to hate because they have the biomechanically ‘perfect’ foot strike. If they walked in the sand they’d have that cutesy little foot print, not a wide, fat arch. They can get away with those lighter shoes because they don’t need a lot of arch support and the cushioning materials are usually lighter. [That's changing thanks to new materials and the whole minimalist shoe movement...all those Nike Lunar shoes are being made with some crazy light materials that can still offer.]

Supinators. These are what some people call ‘dancer’ feet, they tend to roll out and away from the arch so in the sand they have suuuper skinny prints. They are also more ‘delicate’ because typically the bone structures are very rigid and a bit fragile so these runners need to be hyper-conscious that their shoes have a lot of cushioning. Sorry guys, this usually means you’ve got to shell out for more expensive shoes with a ton of cushioning. But if you don’t you’ll wind up hurt…soooo, it’s worth it.

running shoes

Okay, let’s make it a little more equal opportunity for all brands. :)


Outside of being intimate with your foot type you’ve got to stay diligent on tracking how many miles are on your shoes and be sure to replace them regularly. The general rule of thumb is a shoe is ‘dead’ after 500 miles, but that’s the law of averages and I did a whole post on why you may need to replace your shoes more often.

Walking into Big 5 and just snagging a box of shoes marked ‘Run Shoes’, then figuring you’ll be set for a year is on the fast track to getting hurt. Even if the pains aren’t in your feet you’d be surprised what ailments can be tracked back to the wrong pair of shoes…it could be as far away as your neck, people.

If you’re still having trouble deciding which kind of foot type you are or what kind of shoe to get, go into a running specialty store and ask one of them to watch you walk. Any good, running specific store will have instructed their employees how to asses a runner’s foot type from their walk and then be able to offer assistance.

Okay, yes, I’m Nike biased but only because I dream of spooning with my Tempo shorts in the night; hence the first caption. [So if there is anyone Nike people reading this and wnat to give me a little what's what please don't hesitate to reach out! Hehe.] But, I’d be lying if I didn’t say that there are other awesome shoe brands out there too. :)

1) What kind of foot type are you? How or when did you find this out?

2) What kind of shoes are you running in now? How do you like them?

3) Do you have any kind of shoe inserts or orthotics?

4) Finish this sentence and make it sort of tied to running: “You have to kiss a lot of toads before you find the perfect…”

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17 thoughts on “Your Runner Foot Type and the Quest for the Perfect Running Shoe

  1. Cait, you’re going to kill me for this, but I usually only get one pair of running shoes per year. I literally have shoes that have about 5,000 miles on them. I wore one pair for 2+ years, so they probably had close to 10,000 on them. :)

    I don’t know why I don’t get injured more often, after putting so many miles on each pair and being the most flat-footed person on the planet. My feet are so flat they literally form to whatever i’m standing on, haha.

    I generally run in brooks or asics. I’m not picky at all, I think the most i’ve spent on a pair of shoes is $70, the generally around $50. I know, i’m an odd person. I have never actually tried nikes, so maybe you can point me towards a good pair for someone with no arch? ;)

  2. So important! Great post Cait.

    I started running in cross trainers – even though I used to run in spikes for sprints, it didn’t occur to me that cross trainers are not so great for distance running!

    1) I am neutral but my right arch collapses in a little – many experts have told me that! (By the way – you have to give us your answers too!)

    2) Brooks Ravenna – the running people always put me in Brooks. No complaints!

    3) I use hot moulds to support that sneaky little collapsible foot (and yes, we spell it with a ‘u’)

    4) ‘before you find the perfect gel flavour (uck)

  3. I am definitely a Supinator. I have really high arches…ugh. :) When I first started running, I wasn’t too worried about what type of shoes that I ran in. Or even what size! I was stuffing my foot into a 7 1/2 and when I finally went to get a good pair of shoes he had me in a 9!! Crazy!
    The shoes that I have are Brooks Ghost 4′s and I really like them a lot! While running, most of the pressure is in the balls of my feet, so I have to have inserts to relieve that. :)
    Great information Cait!!

  4. I have worn many brands, Saucony, Asics, Brooks, Nike. I fully believe a shoe has to give you goosebumps when you put them on. They have to give you warm fuzzies, to make your soul go warm like you are returning to the womb and feel one with the universe. (but spooning with them? hmmm. Let me try that tonight and get back to you.)

    In fact, like in Harry Potter where the wand chooses the wizard, I think the shoe needs to choose the wearer.

    I am currently running in Nike Pegasus 28, which I love, but I am transitioning to a minimalist Saucony Kirvana 3′s, which are like a sports car and demand to be ridden fast, yet take a lot of gas out of my tank. I may keep a 50/50 split.

    BTW, not sure if you noticed, by my most recent blog post was actually a ‘mock’ guest post, written by a fictional character from my novel. I rewrote it to make it more clear, but I think this point was lost on most readers. My bad for sure.

    20 miles in this week, with another 15 expected for the weekend.

    • can i seriously talk u into taking that first sentence and turing it into either a notecard, poster, or card??? but now the big question is, how did the spooning go??

      okay, can u PLEASE color me an idiot and i’m mortified that ur mock post went over my head! u musta read my comment and been like, “wtf, idiot!” but to be fair, i have become notorious with all my friends in being the most gullible person around. true fact.

      PS- awesome, thanks for the miles! got the 20 and the 15 will roll over to next week. :)

  5. I have neutral feetz and I am so psyched about it. I went to a running store to buy shoes and they put me on a treadmill and filmed my feet so that they could play it back in slow motion to really check out how I run. I have a pair of Mizuno Wave Precision 12s and I loooovveee them. They’re so light. Since I have neutral feet I don’t need any special inserts. (I was born with knock knees, though, so I spent a good part of my life having to actually teach myself how to stand and walk on my feet correctly. I attribute that to my good form!) You have to kiss a lot of toads before you find the perfect… snacks. I have some food intolerances that make me so very sad and it’s harder to find foods

    • you LUCKY girl!!! neutral is the winning little ticket…hehe. glad u got some sweet new shoes and the running store people were very helpful to you! yes, i kno how tricky dealing with food intolerances can be so i’m HAPPY u are able to find those perfect snacks when u do. :)

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