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A short guide to how to pick the right training shoes for your fitness journey!

When did trainers become such a fashion statement? Its less about what suits my activity but which laces match my jumper? and NEVER mix brands. The world of stilettos has been taken over by a universe obsessed by lace-ups and trainers are now a wardrobe must-have for the majority of the population.... In fact, it is several pairs of trainers in the wardrobe that make up our day-to-day stylings and having the newest and shiniest pair is current pinnacle of retail therapy. 

I remember a time when trainers were strictly for exercising and PE at school, and then suddenly we have entered into a time where we seem to have a pair of trainers for every occasion possible! Trainers for the gym, trainers for outside the gym, trainers for weightlifting, trainers for the dog walk, running trainers, fashion trainers, night out trainers, walk-to-work trainers, trainers we don't mind getting ruined, trainers we ABSOLUTELY mind getting ruined.... Trainers are officially the shoe of our fitness-centric lives and for this reason, it is more than vital to make the right choice! In fact, the College of Wisconsin took a study on footwear that revealed stress fractures are often a result of poor shoe choice. So look after your feet!

I have size 3 feet. Yes, this is a huge win for tax-free footwear, and I often could be found perusing the isles of JD kids to save serious £££s on trainers. However, the importance of actually having a pair of kicks that protect and support your feet through every workout and daily pressure you put them through- is very much priceless. 

It unfortunately isn't as simple as- they look good, they are pretty pricey, and everyone trusts a good well-known brand. 

Take a moment to think of how much stress you put your feet through on a day-to-day basis. The numerous surfaces you walk on, the impact of daily tasks as well as intense exercising. It's something that takes a little bit of research and time to make a good shoe decision. But don't be fooled and/or swayed by your best mate's choice, the biomechanics and movement of your feet will no doubt be completely different to that of all of your friends. So find what suits YOU and I don't mean which colour best compliments your skin tone (but that helps too!). 

So you commit some time to the big trainer shop. When you go into any good store, they should be asking you what sort of exercise you do, what injuries you might have, how often you'll be using the trainers, all questions to get a good gage of which direction to go for the right shoe.

Once these questions are answered we can get some trainers in the mix for try-on. Don't let 'hmm they feel a bit tight but maybe I need to break them in' become a mantra for this field! If they fit they will feel right! Trainers are not meant to be broken in, they should feel exactly as you wish from the moment you try them on. And yes, do believe in the old tale of 'a thumbs width from the end of the shoe'- that one we can stick by! Giving yourself some movement in the shoe is crucial. 

Everyone's feet will be different shapes, with different arches, different widths etc. However, Nike have developed research-based studies that females have broader forefeet, a narrower heel, longer toes and higher arches than men, so as a result, they female range has shoes designed specifically with these biomechanic elements also catering for a female's lower body weight and better flexibility. But that's not to say that as a male, you can't branch into this land of female trainers; if they look right for you, then try it- when you are half way through your interval training at the gym, there is a guarantee that no one will comment on your trainers selected from the women's range! And likewise if as a woman, you feel a male trainer would suit you better and feels good! 

Be sensible about the choice you make: if you are a runner and like doing long stints of cardio blasting, then look for neutral trainers, with medium support, a moderate cushion will give good relief for this moderate impact. In fact- if you are doing anything more than basic walking or gymming- you will need greater cushioning and surrounded foot support. Yes, lacing your trainers in specific ways can aid in the support you receive but a little more stability from the shoe itself is a good base! 

Don't feel embarrassed!! If you are clueless about which shoe is right for you then ask, and try some different options. 

Most people will want to buy a solid pair of trainers that they can proudly say they tried and tested before purchasing. But often it seems these treadmills and foot scanners in shoe shops go unused and gather dust whilst prospective customers by-pass it to twirl in the mirror to see their feet from 6 different angles. It doesn't hurt to ask to put the trainers to the test. Get on the treadmills in these shops and try them out! That is what they are there for and guaranteed there will be people in the queue with their brand new trainers thinking- gosh I wish I'd tried these out on the treadmill too! 

Where to go!

I personally have experienced the Nike Town foot assessment. This was so easy and so worth the time. I didn't book an appointment, I just simply asked a member of staff to help me find some trainers. He got me running on the treadmill and filmed my feet from behind. Within minutes he had a genius analysis of my running and movement style. Nike's system then managed to pick out 3 shoes best for me. I tried all 2 (I eliminated the 3rd for aesthetic reasons!) and found a trainer I LOVED. Not because it looked cool or stylish but so comfortable and genuinely I would say perfect for my feet. And the best part of this experience was that it's a free service! Nike want you to have the best in-store journey and this really is worth the time! 

Sweatshop also have a gait analysis service hat works similarly to the Nike experience. Also free! 

If you're a little more a high tech foot fiend and want to take this analysis to a new level, Pro Feet will take you on a journey of foot scrutiny where they watch your movements, landing, give you specific exercises to perform as well as a foot scan to get the most suitable trainers for you. Whilst this is a £40 service, they highly knowledgeable team make it worth while- but if you're simply looking for the best running shoe and are less serious about the examination, they also provide a free gait analysis service. 

Asics- like the others- do the gait treadmill analysis with an additional 3D scan of our feet to get a full picture of your foot shape and structure. This is specific to their Oxford Street flagship.

Other shops also provide this service including Runner's Needs, London City Runner and Crosstown Running. And most are free so try these out and see how you feel first before committing to the purchase! 

And lastly, don't be hesitant to splash out- if you find the perfect pair for you and you know they are brilliant for your feet and training style then why not but 2 pairs. The shoes will wear quickly and the EVO foam that lines the base of the interior sole of the shoe will compress and wear down. 2 pairs alternated will lengthen out the life of the shoe and give you better grounding for your best possible training!

Most recently I bought a pair of performance trainers from Nike. They are Pegasus 33 Trainers (image 4 at the top of the blog!) and I can honestly say one of the best £100 purchases I have ever made; not because they match my leggings but because they are a solid sturdy trainer, very light and airy, they have a good amount of suspension to aid in high impact cardio activities and i feel protected in them. Whilst I would highly recommend these I urge you to take the time- like I did picking these- to select the correct shoe for your feet and your fitness. I promise you will notice the difference and you will not regret it! Good luck!