Running Shoe Terms

Running shoe terms can be a bit daunting to the beginner runner.

I'd love to be able to walk into a shop and say, "I want some blue running shoes please". And I'd love to see the sales assistant's face!

Nowadays when choosing running shoes,  it does help to embellish your running shoe desires with a few other running shoe terms and below is my list of most useful running shoe terminology.

running shoe termsCommon Running Shoe Terms

Common Running Shoe Terms

Heel to Toe Drop
This is the vertical distance between the height of your actual heel from the ground in relation to your forefoot.   Most shoes vary between 6 - 12mm and a zero drop means that the sole of the shoe is totally flat from heel to toe.

Shoe Weight
Running shoes are getting lighter and lighter which is good news for us women.  The given shoe weights are usually for one shoe and often they will say the size of the shoe that the weight relates to.

Upper
This is the fabric, usually mesh, that covers the top and sides of the shoe from toe to heel. Some uppers are more waterproof than others and some are for hot or cold weather running.

Heel Counter
This is the reinforcement around the heel to help lock your heel in place. It can be on the outside or inside of the shoe.

Heel Crash Pad
The part of the shoe under the heel that is  padded to provide a crash landing for your heel. You can also find a crash pad on the toe area as well.

Sole
This is the bottom part of the shoe and in running shoes it is divided into 3 parts:

  • Outsole:
    The outermost layer of the sole, i.e. the bit that touches the ground. Its relief comes in varying "patterns" for traction and grip.
  • Midsole:
    The middle part of the sole that is sandwiched between the outsole and the mesh. It  provides the padding and cushioning of the shoe.
  • Insole:
    The thin and usually removable liner that sits in the bottom of the shoe. Some are shaped to support the different foot arch types.

Sockliner
The padding around the inside of the heel and interior parts of the shoe. Its usually made of foam and fabric.

Toe Spring
The front tip of the shoe. It can be shaped upwards for a faster toe off.

Toe Box
The part of the shoe where your toes sit.

Tongue
The padded strip that sits on the top of your foot just under the laces.

Medial Post
You'll find this in running shoes that offer stability for feet that overpronate. It is found in the midsole but is a harder density than the normal midsole material. It is usually a different color than the rest of the sole and sits under the arch.

Cushioning
Running shoes have different types of cushioning in the sole for absorbing shock. The amount and type of cushioning is geared towards they type and length of running you'll be doing and the type of terrain.

If you are on the quest for the best running shoes then here's my advice for choosing running shoes.


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