Want to run more efficiently? Wear a comfortable pair of shoes

Running fads, be damned! A new study finds that running economy improves when you’re wearing shoes that feel comfortable on your feet

still life of different size shoes on floor at home

The dizzying array of running shoe options now available can make buying a pair an intimidating experience. Do you need one with a carbon plate? What about the model suggested by that influencer on Instagram? Or the shoe favoured by an athlete you admire?

A new study suggests there’s one simple way to test what will work for you: is it comfortable on your foot? The study, published in the European Journal of Sports Science, compared the running economy of participants while wearing what they deemed to be the most comfortable pair of shoes with that of the least comfortable.

The result? The comfier shoes were associated with a reduction in oxygen consumption, despite running at the same speed. ‘It can be concluded with moderate certainty that improved RE (running economy) in recreational athletes is associated with wearing more comfortable footwear compared to less comfortable footwear,’ the researchers said.

In simple terms, you’ll run more efficiently and therefore faster when you wear a shoe that’s comfortable. That’s important to bear in mind against a backdrop of ‘super shoes’, which are designed to propel you forward and put less strain on your body, but may not be so effective if they don’t feel right on your foot.

Ultimately, it’s your trainingnutrition and recovery wear the biggest gains will be made. So don’t get too caught up in all the noise about the latest and greatest shoes. Simply finding a pair that are comfortable is a fine place to start.

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