Trainers are trainers right? Hardly. When it comes to getting fit you need to tread more carefully, because not all kicks are created equal. And we’re not talking on-trend colourways. Whichever way you to choose to get sweaty - be that HIIT, tennis or a marathon - you can now lace up your hard-working trotters in shoes that meet the specific demands of that workout and allow you to smash your PB once and for all.
But while trainers are now more techy than ever, it’s wise to steer clear of the marketing buzz as you make your choice. “The most important thing to consider when buying a new pair is whether they are comfortable for you,” says Alex Ross, podiatrist at Pure Sports Medicine. “While it may seem basic, research has linked this factor to reduction in injury.”
He adds that choosing kicks based on “pronation” and the “height of your arch” - aka your foot shape - is futile since what matters is how it moves as you workout. “It can often be a case of trial and error to find something that really works for you,” he concedes. “However getting a podiatrist to assess your gait and guide your choice can help.”
Still feeling a little overwhelmed? Alex says trying on two to three pairs at a shop with an in-store treadmill before you purchase is essential, and he also recommends sticking to brands and styles you know you gel with. Interestingly, an easy way to tell you’ve hit the jackpot is when you hardly make any surface noise as you clock up those running miles.
He also advises having a minimum of two pairs of trainers in your fit kit ‘drobe - one for gym-based workouts and interval training, and another for longer runs. But if you want to boost your fitness further, read on…
Buy: New Balance Fresh Foam Crush, £85, newbalance.co.uk
For short, sharp workouts the mid-foot and fore-foot need extra reinforcement, so that when you switch between box jumps and burpees your ankle remains stable. This pair from New Balance are made with a soft support created from a single piece of foam that is protective but allows natural movement. Best get warming up…
Workout: Running under 5k
Buy: Under Armour Hovr Phantom, £115, underarmour.co.uk
“For short-distance runs, including sprint or interval training, it can be a good idea to use a lighter shoe to aid running economy, meaning the efficiency at converting oxygen into forward motion,” says Alex. At just 248g, this pair from Under Armour are seriously lightweight, and come with bouncy ‘zero gravity’ technology that looks after your joints by reducing impact.
Workout: Running over 5k
Buy: Saucony Liberty ISO, £150, saucony.com
“First time marathon runners need to protect their mid-sole,” warns Alex. These Saucony kicks - specially built for hefty distances - carry your feet in floating cases that provides constant cushioning but also allows them to move freely.
Workout: Weight training
Buy: Reebok Guresu, £59.95, reebok.co.uk
Lifting in the gym requires some concrete ankle support as well as a foundation that isn’t too cushiony so you can spread your weight evenly. This Reebok pair tick all the sturdy and supportive boxes - and prove that shoes for the weights area can still look pretty.
Workout: Trail running
Buy: North Face Ultra Vertical Shoe, £120, thenorthface.co.uk
An activity that takes you through all weathers and trainers needs footwear that’s more hardcore. North Face, who specialise in trail running, have come up with this super-grippy pair made with a breathable, fast-drying material that keeps your feet protected from stones and debris. Because you never know.
Workout: Outdoor sports
Buy: Nike Air Zoom Vapor x Clay, £119.95, nike.com
You know those days when you get out and bed feeling like the third Williams sister? Well, it’s always best to be prepared. This Nike pair are made for tennis court - and are ideal for other sports too - thanks to the control its insanely grippy sole provides, as well as cushioning for that mid-serve jump.
Buy: Adidas SolarBOOST, £139.95, adidas.co.uk
For a multitasking trainer you want only the best. Lucky then that Adidas turned to NASA for inspiration when coming up with this ultimate all-rounder. Find stitched-in reinforcement to keep your mid-foot secure for short distances, sports and demanding HIIT, and a flexible outer sole to allow your Achilles to move freely on longer runs. On your marks, get set…
Main Image: Unsplash