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Running shoes buying guide


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.


“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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

15 Comments on Running shoes buying guide

  1. my dad is a shoe sales man for Tradehome shoes, he is in charge of 18 stores and he hates those cheap five fingers and did you know 2% of the people that buy them actually were them. I suggest getting Saucony bare foot running shoes.

  2. gallardo_225 // June 23, 2011 at 5:52 pm // Reply

    NIke free’s are THE best shoes I’ve ever worn

  3. mr. daring // June 18, 2011 at 7:52 pm // Reply

    pumas are great it feels like you’re floating, but if you are a winter runner(like me) I would go for shauns

  4. BlubberBoy 555 // May 2, 2011 at 5:54 am // Reply

    smartguy25, those are called fivefingers. THey are beast!!!

  5. Fila are the way to go there comfortable and light

  6. Asics are the best! Very durable.

  7. Can anyone please tell me what shoes are the ones that have individual areas for your toes and are almost like sandals because i cant find them anywhere! Thanks!

  8. If you want to get great service, and your a year-round runner(like me), or your not too worried about the cost, try either 3Sports(my favorite) or Footlocker. Asics and Soniky are good brands if you have to shop at a “big box” store and can’t get great service. I don’t recomend Nike.

  9. Saucony makes very good running shoes wore a pair to 2010 Jambo 300+ miles and ran a season of cross country hold up very well also trail running try Oboz Sawtooth trail running/hiking very well built

  10. Make sure the shoes are not too tight on the sides, because even if the shoes fit fine, blisters’ll happen easier.

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