One of the best aspects of running is its simplicity: you just need to lace up your shoes and go. That said, the shoes you choose can make a lot of difference in your enjoyment of running. But by using these tricks for finding the best running sneaker, you can find your dream pair of shoes to last for miles of runs.
Choosing a new pair of shoes can be confusing because of the explosion of choices. Some runners swear by particular models and brands, whereas others are happy to run in whatever is one sale. Add to this the proliferation of zero-drop shoes, minimalist sandals, and hardcore trail-running shoes, and the number of decisions you have to make are dizzying.
Fortunately, picking out the right shoes can be as easy as putting one foot in front of the other. By relying on the expertise of your local running community and shop owners, you can find the right pair for your own running goals. That said, it's important to remember that there is no one perfect shoe for all runners, just the perfect shoe for you. The brand that gives your best friend raging blisters may fit your feet like a dream, so it's helpful to keep an open mind when trying out the many, many styles of shoes. Read on to learn the best way to find running shoes fit for you.
1. Go Local
Sure, some chain stores carry excellent running shoes. But nothing can match the expertise of your local running community, as they know your roads and running conditions like no one else. If at all possible, look for a local shoe store managed by longtime running people. Chances are, you'll get individualized attention and advice on shoes that cannot be beat.
2. Know Your Feet
Sure, you hear the phrase "talk to your doctor before starting any new exercise regime" all the time, but how many people actually follow this advice? Well, in the case of running, it's a great idea. A trip to your podiatrist can tell you whether you have potential foot issues such as high arches, bunions, or otherwise wonky feat. You may be advised to check out special types of shoes (such as those with stability control) to help work with your body.
3. Get Shoes For Running
Sure, at a large race you'll probably see a few people running in sandals, cheap sneaks, or no shoes at all. But in general it's a good idea to spring for dedicated running shoes, because they generally provide more protection for your feet and may help fix problems such as overpronation, as noted in the Houston Chronicle. Bonus: most of them look pretty cool.
4. Be Size Smart
After a couple hours of running in the heat, your size 8 feet can feel like 11s. When you're at the running shoe store, it may be a good call to get your feet measured and make sure you have about a half inch of room in the forefoot, as noted in Runner's World. This will help prevent your feet from feeling cramped midway through your run.
5. Choose Fit Over Style
For whatever reason, running shoe manufacturers have gravitated toward a neon color palette with bright, loud hues for the past few years. In fact, my all-time favorite pair of shoes fit like a second skin, but they were only available in a color best described as "melted popsicles." Despite their exterior, they worked much better than their more understated counterparts. So if the shoes that fit you best only come in electric screaming yellow, then it's probably worthwhile to sacrifice style for substance. Chances are, the style will grow on you over time (and hey, it probably increases your visibility out on the road, so there's that.)
6. Think About Orthotics
Remember: you can always rip out that sock liner (the stock insole) and put in your own one. So if you find a pair of shoes that are perfect in every way but need an insole with more arch support, for instance, you can always customize it. As explained in Runner's World, companies tend to make the sock liner thin on purpose to conform to your foot, so you can easily ditch it for a more contoured fitting orthotic foot bed if needed. This can give you many more options of shoes.
7. Try Before You Buy
My favorite local running store encourages customers to take a lap on the sidewalk out front before committing to a particular shoe. This is super helpful because it's difficult to gauge a running shoe's true performance while you're standing still. Of course, your ability to test-drive shoes may depend on your location and the stores available. And, although I am not advocating the practice, I do know of some runners who have jogged a little around big box stores before buying a particular shoe model.
8. Consider Your Terrain
Will you primarily be running on muddy trails, hot asphalt, or a treadmill? Are you training for a marathon or a mud run? Knowing what kind of running you're getting in to, and sharing this information with your friendly shoe store owners, can mean the difference between an OK pair of shoes and ones that work with your environment perfectly.
9. Sock Up
If you want to hear some nit-picky conversation, just ask a group of runners about their sock preferences. Seriously: most people are less passionate about their political ideals. That said, it's a good idea to bring in your socks of choice when you go to try out potential shoes. After all, bulky cotton socks may make your shoes have a much different fit when compared to your whisper-thin running socks. This is one case in which the little giveaway footies at the shoe store just won't cut it.
10. Know Your Running Style
Oh, pronation. Chances are you never gave two thoughts to your pronation before running, and now it's in the back of your mind pretty constantly. But as noted in Complex, there are plenty of running shoes specifically designed for overpronators, as well as many other common running issues. Your shoes can help you maintain stability.
11. Enjoy The Processs
Although running shoe shopping can make your head spin, there's nothing quite like the feeling of new gear. What adventures will you and your new shoes enjoy? Take a minute to savor the shopping process as you search for your new kicks, because running is all about having fun (well, more or less).