How to Choose the Best
Running Shoes For You by Bob Wischnia
Runner's World Online
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This sixteen-step process guarantees you
will find the best running shoe for you
Choosing the proper running shoe for you
isn't quite as complicated as nuclear fission, but for a beginner it can be a
daunting task sorting through all the models and high-tech shoe systems. The
best place to start the shoe selection process is a running shoe store.
A running store should be a fun place to go and shop. But with all the
new, colorful models on the shoe wall and the slim, fit people gathered about,
it can also be an intimidating place for a newcomer. Still, a good running
store should cater to the needs of the beginner as well as the experienced. If
you don't feel the store's salespeople are receptive to your needs, talk over
your head or are condescending, go someplace else.
Here is the
step-by-step process to ensure you get the best running shoe for you:
- It's important to understand that if you
plan to run, you need to buy a shoe specific to running. Not a sneaker, tennis
shoe, cross-trainer, aerobic, basketball or walking shoe. But a running shoe
made for running and only running.
- The best way to get a high quality
running shoe that fits you properly is to go to a running store. There are
plenty of sporting goods chain stores that carry running shoes, but only
running shops carry a wide selection of brands and models and have running
experts who can put you in the best shoe for you. If you don't know of a
running store in you area, then you can check out the selection from
Road Runner Sports on the Internet.
- Once you've find a running store, commit
to spending at least 30 to 45 minutes there. Don't rush your shoe selection
process. Once there, check out the shoe wall. It will give you a good idea of
the latest models and prices. Another good hint is to pick up a Runner's World
Shoe Buyer's Guide, published in March, June, September and December each year.
In it, we evaluation and sort through all the newest models of training shoes.
- While checking out the shoe wall, a
salesperson will undoubtedly ask whether you need help. Make certain the
salesperson is a runner who understands your needs. If not, ask to see someone
- Bring the socks you most often use for
running. The wrong socks (either too thin or too thick) will alter the fit of
the shoes you're trying on. If you don't have running socks, buy a pair at the
store and wear them when trying on shoes.
- If you have been running, bring the shoes
with you to the store that you have been running in. They will help the
salesperson better determine the specific pair you need. If you wear orthotics,
bring them as well.
- Have both feet measured for width and
length-even if you think you know your size. Your feet tend to spread and
lengthen (from running and aging) so don't be surprised that your running shoes
may be a half or full size larger than what your accustomed to wearing.
- Discuss with the salesperson the
particulars of your running history. Such variables as how long you've been
running, miles per week you run, the predominant surface you run on, racing
background or races that loom in the future and other characteristics of your
running are all helpful to the salesperson pulling out the right shoe for you.
- If you have not been running much (or at
all), be honest. It can be intimidating talking to a shoe-savvy salesperson,
but a good one won't try to confuse you with techno-babble. If you don't
understand a term or technology, ask the salesperson to explain it.
- If you're running is in the beginning
stages, don't assume you need the least expensive shoe available. You won't
need the most expensive either, but you will need just as much cushioning and
durability as a more experienced runner will. Plan to spend between $75 and $90
for a high quality technical model running shoe. Bigger runners who need added
support and durability might have to pay a little more.
- Your primary need is for a pair of shoes
that fit well and feel comfortable. Fit and feel are certainly an individual
decision, but look for running shoes that fit snugly (without being tight) with
about a half inch (or slightly less) room between the longest toe and the end
of the shoe. Your toes should not feel cramped or squished. Your heel should
not slip in the rearfoot when walking or running. If one aspect of the fit is
not right, don't buy the shoe.
- If you like a certain shoe, but don't
feel it's wide enough (or it's too wide), ask the salesperson if it's available
in more than one width. Many models are. New Balance offers all of its best
running shoes in at least three widths for men and women. Some brands (but not
all) offer one or two widths in popular models.
- Try on a wide variety of styles and
brands. One brand isn't necessarily better than any other. Take your time. Put
your running socks on (and if you wear orthotics, place them in the shoes) and
walk around the store in the shoes. Jog around outside. If it doesn't feel or
fit right in the store, it won't feel better when you run (just the opposite).
- Make certain the salesperson watches you
run. There are some shoes that could be wrong for you-for example, not enough
support for big runners-and even if you can't tell, the salesperson should be
- Decide on two pairs and compare the two
on fit and comfort. Ask the salesperson what the technical differences are
between the two. Put one shoe from each pair on and jog around to see which
shoe feels better. Go with that shoe. If you can't discern a difference, ask
for the salesperson's recommendation.
- Ask about the store's return policy. Most
good running stores have a liberal policy which allows you to return shoes that
are clean and have not been worn a great deal. But check and always keep the