‘Tis the season to welcome the great outdoors back into your life. Perhaps you’re preparing for outdoor workouts or for sprints around your local park. Before you head outdoors for the first time post-winter hibernation, experts recommend taking a look at your footwear. You need an athletic shoe that matches your shape, your stride, and your needs is essential. However, it’s also smart to consider the difference between indoor and outdoor running shoes. As Fitness Expert and Coach Kyle Kranz explains, “Different workouts come with different demands and needs. This is especially true when considering what connects our bodies to the running surface—our shoes.”
Here, experts share their insight on how to shop for shoes by terrain.
Opt for less cushion in indoor shoes.
Most of the time, when you’re logging miles inside, you’re either on a treadmill or on the padded floor of a gym. Neither of which are as hard as pavement or the ground outside. While still beneficial, this means that your indoor runs aren’t quite as dynamic, as say, trail running. Because of this, you don’t need as much support, according to Kranz. “You can likely get away with [a] less cushioned shoe for indoor running since you may run shorter distances indoors on a softer location, such as a treadmill or track,” he explains.
Shy away from large lugs for indoor runs.
Pick up your running shoes and turn ‘em over. The thick rubber sole with indentations on the bottom of your sneakers are designed to give you more balance and stability. And, as Kranz explains, the bigger the lug, the more durability you need—with hiking boots often boasting the largest. For indoor workouts, your shoes don’t need these, Kranz says. Additionally, more to the point, it’s not good for the shoes when used indoors. “The flat and untechnical indoor surfaces will quickly wear away any outstanding lugs your shoes may have on the sole. [They] are there for improved traction on dirt and trail. More lugged shoes tend to cost a bit more. If you wear them indoors and wear out the extra traction, it’s simply a waste of money,” he says.
Invest in better support for outdoor workouts.
Especially if you’re training for a half-marathon or a marathon, taking extra care of your feet will decrease your risk of injury and keep your performance optimal. Most people need the extra cushion to ensure that they don’t overpronate or practice bad form. However, Kranz says that it’s best to go to your local running store. Tell them about your goals, needs, ailments, and preferences. Even if you don’t go overboard on the cushion, make sure that you have at least some. “Selecting some slightly more cushioned outdoor shoes will leave your legs feeling fresher. [They will be] able to handle the harder demands and distances,” he shares.
Consider your climate for outdoor runs.
Though San Diego has nearly-perfect weather year-round, Seattle isn’t quite as welcoming. Kranz says that for those who live in a part of the country—or globe—that experiences fairly consistent rainfall, it’s important to have outdoor running shoes that won’t slip and slide. “You could purposefully seek out a shoe designed to keep the extra moisture out. Altra has their Neoshell and many footwear companies use Gore-Tex. While I would not recommend a fully waterproof shoe for running, which can mean decreased ventilation, having a shoe upper with a weather-resistant material that helps keep your feet a bit drier will keep your feet more comfortable,” he explains.
Make sure to replace your outdoor running shoes often.
Much like when you find that pair of jeans that fits or the ideal mascara that doesn’t clump, you want to use them until their last wear. You might be able to get away with a longer shelf life for certain products. However, outdoor running shoes need regular upgrades. Considering the rougher terrain, switching your shoes every 300 miles is a safe bet for protecting your shoes’ traction and your legs.
When you’re searching for a running shoe of any kind, be sure to get an expert opinion. Think realistically about how often you’ll be switching between outdoor running and indoor running. Then, talk to a specialist about your needs, the terrain you’re most likely to cover, and the weather in your area to get a shoe (or shoes!) that work for you.