What Are Good Running Shoes?

good running shoes

In the crazy world of running, there is much talk about “the best running shoes”.

If you’ve ever walked into a store that sells running shoes and the different brands and designs have overwhelmed you, trust me, you are not the exception.

This might come as a surprise to you, but there is no such thing as “best running shoe”.

Every runner is different based on their running style and training programme.

Every brand of running shoe is different and each model of running shoe is different.

The challenge for you is to find the best running shoe for you. That means finding good quality shoes that are appropriate for your foot type and running style so you can run comfortably and reduce your exposure to common running injuries.

Having said that, be fully aware that there are crappy running shoes. The type that are great for a party, braai or a 5 minute treadmill session, but completely inappropriate for road running.

From the above it’s important to make the following distinction:

  • there are good and bad quality shoes
  • there are good quality shoes that are bad or inappropriate for you

So exactly what are good running shoes?

I will attempt to address this question by highlighting:

  • 3 Components of good running shoe
  • Functionality of those components

good running shoe


This is the treaded layer on the undersurface of the shoe, usually made from carbon rubber or similar material. It may also have a studded or waffle design to enhance traction on softer surfaces.


  • Durability
  • Traction


This is possibly the most important part of your running shoe. Commonly made from Ethylene Vinyl Acetate (EVA), Polyutherane (PU) or a combination of the two, it provides cushioning and stability between the upper part of your running shoe and the outsole.

Design often includes good heel high and a dual-density midsole that has a firmer material on the inner side.

Heel height is determined by taking the thickness of the sole at the ball of the foot from the thickness at the heel whilst The  designed to support athletes who pronate (roll inwards).

The midsole also consists of the following:

  • Arch fill: area under the arch designed to let the shoe flex with foot movement
  • Last: a layer of material stitched to the upper that governs the shape of the foot and gives it its feel
  • Stockliner (in-sole): first layer of soft foam which your foot rests on in the shoe
  • Air bags or gels: non foam technologies


  • Arch and calf support
  • Stability to prevent over-pronation
  • Cushioning for shock absorption
  • Comfort


This is the entire top of the shoe above the midsole.

In modern day shoes that are incredibly light, this part of the shoe is made from synthetic material to keep the shoes light and reduce the heat inside the shoe to ensure that your feet are able to breathe effectively.

Consists of:

  • Tongue: often padded
  • Toebox: area that covers the base of your toes to the end of your foot. There should be enough height and the material should be expandable so that toes don’t feel pressure from the vamp (top of the toe box)
  • Heel Counter: firm and inflexible cup built into upper
  • Heel Collar (heel cuff): top of the upper at the back of shoe


  • Light synthetic material: reduces heat inside to ensure breathability for feet
  • Tongue: padding prevents top of foot against the pressure of laces
  • Heel counter: surrounds the heel and controls motion of rear-foot
  • Heel collar: support heel and prevent rubbing and irritation against Achilles tendon
  • Heel collar: provide stability by preventing foot from slipping inside the shoes

Ultimately, all good running shoes should have the above 3 components.

However, the 3 types of running shoes – Neutral, Stability and Motion Control – will be manufactured with varying degrees of strength and enhancements depending on they type of foot and running style the shoe is designed for.

Confused? Ok, let’s have a look at the following diagram:

components of running shoe.4

As you can see from above:

  • A Stability running shoe will have all the components of a good running shoe but will have mild pronantion enhancements in the midsole because that’s the area that best controls your stability
  • A Motion Control also referred to as high stability shoes will have all the components of a good running shoe but will have enhancements in both the heel counter and misdole because to provide rear-foot motion support and extra support for archs for severe-pronators and slightly heavier runners
  • A Neutral running shoe will have all the components of a running shoe and will probably be designed with no particular enhancements in any one area

Ultimately, the technicalities of a running shoe are a “nice-to-know”. They can help you make better decisions.

Is it the end of the road if you don’t these technicalities? Absolutely not!

Much like buying a car, it helps to do a bit or research but the salesperson at the dealer will be the solution to a number of your problems.

I’d rather you focus your energies on buying the right running shoe for you than understanding what constitutes the best running shoes because really good quality shoes can be really bad for you if they are not appropriate for your foot type and running style.

God Bless!


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