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Running shoes buying guide

running-shoes

When it comes to buying new running shoes, it doesn’t really matter how cool they look or how sweet a bargain they were. If the shoes don’t fit properly, you won’t be running much of anywhere — except maybe back to the store.

Picking the right shoes for road- or trail-running is tough stuff. So for some handy tips and tricks we tapped former Boy Scout and ex-running store employee Alan Webb, who also just so happens to be one of the fastest distance runners on Earth.

Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned runner, read on and we guarantee you’ll learn something from Webb that will make your next trip to the shoe store better than ever.

SHOP FOR THE STORE, NOT THE SHOE

“The best thing to do is try to find a good running specialty store,” Webb says. “Sure, you’ll pay $10 or $15 more than at some big-box shoe store, but you’re getting service and you’re getting the right shoe.” Salespeople at specialty stores will take the time to help you find a shoe that properly fits your type of foot.

KNOW YOUR FOOT

Everybody runs differently, but we all do something called pronating when we run.

Basically, every time your shoe hits the ground your foot rolls from the outer edge to the inner edge. Guys whose feet roll excessively inward are called over-pronators. Those whose feet don’t roll in much at all are called under-pronators.

Most running shoes are designed for one type of foot or the other (and most say so in the printed product details on the tag or box).

A salesperson at a running store can tell you right away what kind of a foot you have. Or try this: Put your old pair of shoes side-by-side on a table, toes pointing away from you, and look at how the cushion has worn down. If the shoes tilt outward you are an under-pronator; if they tilt inward, then you are an over-pronator. If they do neither, you have a neutral gait.

“Figure out what kind of runner you are, then find a shoe that matches your foot,” Webb says. Over-pronators need a shoe with added stability and motion control. Neutral runners and under-pronators are usually best off with a shoe with cushioning that minimizes impact without directing the foot in a specific direction.

ROAD OR TRAIL?

Once you know your foot type, think about where you’ll be running most often. Regular running shoes are best for streets or well-maintained jogging paths, but if you plan on heading off-road on rough or undeveloped trails, go for a trail-runner. Trail-runners are usually heavier but have sturdy knobby soles and additional foot support.

WEATHER OR NOT

Is it hot where you run? If so, look for a lightweight shoe with lots of mesh. Cold and rainy? Then pick a pair made with fabrics such as Gore-Tex that will protect you from cold while keeping your feet dry.

IF THE SHOE FITS….

Some guys, like Webb, prefer their shoes to be tight.

“I wear my shoes at least a half size smaller than most people do,” he says. “I jam my foot inside my shoe, so I’ve grown to like that tight feel.”

But for most, a thumbnail’s width of space past your longest toe and the end of the shoe is fine. Also, make sure you have enough room to wiggle your toes freely. Be careful about buying shoes bigger so you’ll have room to grow into into them, because a loose shoe can cause blisters and foot problems if you’re running often.

TEST DRIVE

Always try on the the shoes before you buy. The best time of day to shop for shoes is the evening, Webb says, because your feet swell throughout the day and are largest late in the day. Try on shoes while wearing the same kind of socks you’ll be wearing when running. Finally, don’t be shy: Run around inside the shop. Do your best to simulate the bouncing and bounding you’ll do while actually running.

108 Comments on Running shoes buying guide

  1. vibram 5 fingers sprint is awesome. I have some and they rock. they are a real treat. if you buy them you will be very pleased

  2. Always Walking Wherever I travel 835 // August 27, 2009 at 6:54 am // Reply

    If a person has feet that differ in size by one and one-half (1 1/2) shoe sizes, where is a shoe company or shoe store that can accomodate a person with a mis-match service on running shoes? For example if a person has a right foot that is a man’s shoe size of 5 1/2 EE and a left foot that is a man’s shoe size of 7 D or 7 1/2 C, where can a person purchase shoes for a person to be able to participate on a long distance jogging team?

    • HammockHanger // June 10, 2010 at 11:59 am // Reply

      that is a serious issue with alot of people…you will probably have to buy two pairs of the shoe that you want (each one with the correct size) becasue you *can’t* purchase a pair with two different sizes

  3. Middle School Jogging Team Member 883 // August 15, 2009 at 8:42 am // Reply

    Skechers running shoes and K-Swiss running shoes are great for people who run the 440 meters run or the one mile competition run.

  4. Avid Canoe Adventurer // August 4, 2009 at 1:20 pm // Reply

    Jack Percell’s canvas shoe made by Converse Shoe Company are really great and wear almost like iron for over five years after a person’s foot has stopped growing.

  5. Philmontpoleclimber332 // August 2, 2009 at 3:56 pm // Reply

    Lumber Jacks use spiked hiking boots to climb tall sequoia trees.

  6. usually football players wear cleats dont they?

    • everywhere i went i was running // January 27, 2011 at 3:32 pm // Reply

      yeah football players, soccer players, track runners, softball players, and baseball players all have to have cleats. There are millions of different styles and types.

  7. Well, i play football at my school (not on a team officaly, just a thing we do outside), and i often run in a strait light or slight curve, becuase i can get around defence easily if i stay out of sight, so what shoe would be right for me?

  8. Go Longhorns! // March 20, 2009 at 10:03 am // Reply

    Asics are amazing! I found a pair for $45 at Kohls and the SAME PAIR at Acadmey for $70.

  9. i dont run, but i plan 2!! i didnt even about all this stuff ’bout “pronating”!! so, thanks 2 this i plan 2 sav up and buy some shoes that are combfy and the 4 “road”. also find out wat kind of feet i hav!!:)

  10. i have been doing xc and track 4 3 years an the coach is really tough i have been using asics and they r great but i just got mizunos this year i like them almost as much as i like asics

    HOW COME IT DOESNT SAY ANYTHING ABOUT RUNNING SPIKES!!!!!!!
    :( :(

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