If you’d rather browse and choose your shoes on your own, be our guest! We try to have each shoe tagged with a basic description and price, but we are always happy to answer any additional questions you might have. Below you can find some simple tips about buying running shoes.
The Right Running Shoe Fit
Getting the proper fit is the most important factor when buying new running shoes. Here, four prominent specialty running-shoe store owners–each of whom has fitted thousands of runners–share some of their secrets.
1. Line up the ball. “When you try your shoe on, the ball of your foot (the widest part) should line up exactly with the widest part of the shoe. If that fit is right, everything else should line up–from the toes to the heel. As for width, when you’re standing in the shoe, your foot should rest gently against the sides of the shoe, rather than jamming up against them or not touching at all. Also, be sure your toes aren’t being pinched from the side.” -Chris Schmidt, The Finish Line, Allentown, Pennsylvania
2. Stand on one foot. “I have people stand on one foot, which puts extra stress on the shoe and the foot, so you can better tell if it’s going to feel right. When standing, your foot should feel situated atop the midsole. That is, it shouldn’t feel like it’s moving around too much on top of the midsole, and it shouldn’t feel like it’s flopping over the sides of the midsole either. When you run in the shoe, don’t be too put off if it feels overly supportive, as most runners need more support (or motion control) as they age.” -Curt Munson, Playmakers, East Lansing, Michigan
3. Check for balance. “I have a runner stand in the shoes to see if he or she feels properly balanced. You should feel anchored; the shoes shouldn’t be making you lean in a certain direction. There should be plenty of toe space, and when you walk or run, your heel shouldn’t slide out of the shoe at all. I often have people run in the shoes down a slight hill next to the store. Downhill running exaggerates impact, so if the shoes feel okay, you should be fine in them.” -Chet James, Super Jock ‘n Jill, Seattle
4. Focus on the ride. “Once we determine the type of shoe you need–whether motion-control, stability, or another–we bring out shoes from three different manufacturers and have the customer try them all. Then you need to be sure there’s no pinching, or a seam that’s pressing against your foot. Finally, we have people run or walk in the shoe to really focus on the ride, or how the shoe feels from the point when the heel hits the ground to when the toe lifts off it.” -Don Lucas, Luke’s Locker, Dallas
To figure out what type of running shoes you should buy, you first need to know that kind of feet you have. A knowledgeable salesperson at a running specialty store can help you find the right running shoe for your foot type, but you can also figure out what type of foot you have on your own. One way is to just look at your foot and ankle structure. There are three different types of feet:
If you’re looking at your foot, you’ll know you have flat feet if you don’t see any arch. The bottom of your foot, from your toes to your heel, is completely flat. If you do the footprint test, your print will look like a foot-shaped blob. You won’t see an inward curve from your big toe to your heel.
If you’re flat-footed, you’re most likely an overpronator, which means that your feet roll inward when you run.
What to Buy: You will probably need a running shoe that maintains your stability. Look for the words “motion control” and “stability” on the box of running shoes you are considering. In addition to motion-control shoes, some flat-footed runners also need to wear orthotics (custom-made shoe inserts that correct foot issues).
You should be able to easily determine if you have high arches — you’ll notice a high and definite arch on your foot. If you do the footprint test, your print will curve inward, making the middle part of your foot look very skinny. When you push your hand against the bottom of your foot, your arch will stay rigid.
If you have high arches, you may supinate or underpronate, which means your feet roll outwards as you run. It’s very important that runners with high arches periodically re-measure their feet because running will cause their arches to gradually fall, making their feet longer.
What to Buy: You need to look for flexible running shoes with a soft midsole that absorbs shock. When buying running shoes, look for options with the words “flexible” or “cushioned” included in their descriptions.
Neutral or Normal Feet
If you’ve examined your foot or your footprint and it doesn’t look flat-footed or high-arched, you most likely have a neutral or normal foot. Your footprint will have a noticeable curve inward, but not by more than 3/4 of an inch.
As long as you pick a running shoe that doesn’t counteract your foot type, you shouldn’t encounter any problems. This is the most common type of foot, and it’s also the least susceptible to injury provided it’s outfitted with proper footwear.
What to Buy: If you have normal feet, you can choose from a wide variety of running shoes, including ones made for neutral runners or those with slightly flat-footed or high-arched feet. Don’t pick running shoes that have a lot of stability or motion control.