Running 101

Everyone runs for different reasons. Some start running with a certain race in mind. Others just want to have 30 minutes of mind-clearing solitude each day. Still others wish to lose weight or get in shape for something specific. There is no singular “right” reason to run, so long as it’s the right reason for you. What’s more important is that you know what that reason is, as your “why” will get you in a pair of running shoes and out the door each day.

This might be your first try at running, or a return visit, or an attempt to improve on what you already do. The less running you've done recently, the more you can expect to improve your distances and speeds in the next 10 weeks. On the other hand, the less you've run lately, the more likely you are to hurt yourself by doing too much running, too soon. That's why it's so important to set two related goals as you start or restart your running program: maximize improvements and minimize injuries. You win by improving. You lose by getting hurt.

They are the biggest equipment expense for runners, so it's important to get it right. Spend wisely by buying well-made shoes from a major brand. Search out a model that fits you properly, and is designed for the surface you'll run on most often-roads, tracks, or trails. If you're not sure which shoe will work best for you, shop at a running-specialty store staffed by veteran runners and shoe experts. After you buy your shoes, remember that even the best have a limited lifespan. Plan to replace them after about 350 to 500 miles of wear.

Click here to browse our recommended shoes for each type.

The two basic raw materials of a running routine are time and space. And the two main reasons given by those who don't run? "I don't have time for it," and "I don't have anywhere to do it." Let's dissect those excuses. You can run well and get in great shape with as little as a 30-minute session every other day. Think of it as the time you won't waste by watching a sitcom rerun. As for finding places to run: Anywhere that's safe for walking is also fine for running. Off-road routes (parks, bike paths, high school tracks) are better than high-traffic streets, and soft surfaces (grass, dirt) are better than paved ones, but any choice is better than staying home. Major suggestion: Map out the best courses in your immediate neighborhood. That saves time, solves the "place" issue, and makes it much more likely that you'll actually do your planned runs.


Cushioned shoes are typically recommended for runners with little to no pronation as they offer both shock absorption and protection with little to no extra support throughout the gait cycle.

These shoes are also called “neutral padded shoes”. These are designed to counteract supination.

Typically, cushioned shoes are recommended for runners with high arches—what’s known as supinator, or underpronators in the running circles.

Stability shoes are usually recommended for runners with a normal arch or neural feet. These athletes tend to require shoes with a good mix of midsole cushioning and good support.

There is nothing wrong with pronation—it’s, in fact, part and parcel of human movement. Pronation, simply put, refers to the inward rolling of the foot upon impact.

But too much pronation might be problematic.

Stability shoes can come in handy as they can help prevent, or at least reduce, excessive pronation, by offering more arch and ankle support throughout the gait cycle.

Trail runners have to maneuver across mud, dirt, rocks and other off-road obstacles, therefore, they require the best in support, stability, and protection.

Trail shoes, as the name implies, are built for trail running. These shoes are designed for running surfaces that are undulating and have a wide range of terrain, from mud to grass, road, and hard packed paths.

Think of trail shoes as a mix of running sneakers and hiking shoes. They offer enough protection around the ankle and the tongue to protect your feet against all the roots and rock found on rugged and rocky terrains.

Not ony that, these also provide superior grip for better traction and control on softer, often uneven, and slippery surfaces—typically achieved through aggressive soles and stickier rubbers.

Lightweight shoes are built with less foam and cushioning features under the foot, allowing for more natural and dynamic motion for the feet.

But there is a downside to the lightweight shoe.

In general, these do not offer the same degrees of cushioning and shock absorption as regular road shoes classified in the neutral or stability categories. That’s why they should not be used for general training.

If you are just starting out, the last thing you’d want to get is a racing flat. You don’t need them that early in your training program.