Five Secrets about Buying Running Shoes

Secrets to buying running shoes

Five Secrets about Buying Running Shoes

Working in a specialty running store, I learn a lot about running, in general, new products, and of course, running shoes.  When I began working at the run specialty store, I knew the shoe I liked but not much else.

Like anyone, I went through the whole process of getting my foot remeasured, my gait analyzed, and my (now) coworker brought out some shoes that worked well for me.  To my shock, my feet were wide and had grown. There are so many secrets to buying running shoes that runners don’t realize.

Secrets to buying running shoes

Run specialty employees will take time to get to know you run, if you heel strike or strike at the front, what you are training for if you prefer a certain heel to toe drop, they get to know everything. They won’t let you choose a shoe off the wall “because it looks good.”

There are plenty of fascinating facts about running shoes and secrets to buying running shoes that you might not know.  Working in a run specialty store, they are now common knowledge for me, but I thought I would share.

For instance, there is a lifespan of a running shoe. Most running shoes last between 300- 500 miles, but minimalist shoes and racing flats last less time. Trail running shoes often last longer, and the cheapest running shoes are none and go barefoot running (I kid…somewhat).

Your Feet Change and Grow:
The first and maybe most important secrets to buying running shoes are your feet change over time. When your feet are measured, many people are shocked to find their feet have grown. Your arches can collapse as you age, and therefore, your feet can get longer or wider. Every person’s feet are different, and no two feet are the same. Some people have high arches, low arches, flat feet, wide feet, but everyone is different.

Plus, everyone has a different running style, so your pair of running shoes must accommodate that.

Woman, your feet change after pregnancy.  No one cares about your foot size, but get what is most comfortable.

Running Shoes are not Meant for Lateral Motion:
I recently wrote a post about cross-training shoes. This includes side to side motion, tennis, etc.  Another secret to buying running shoes is running shoes aren’t reinforced on the sides, and using them for lateral movement can break them down much faster.  They are comfortable to do so, but a pair of shoes will wear out more quickly. You can wear your running shoes for these sports, but they will break down faster.

Putting your  Shoes in the Dryer Ruins Them:
Running shoe technology, such as gel, can break down when heated.  Eventually, a shoe will get dirty, so don’t wash and dry it.  Spray it with a hose and let it air dry if you must.

Socks are Normally the Cause of Blisters:
One of the biggest myths and secrets to buying running shoes is the majority of the time; socks are the cause of your blister. Most people believe the shoe causes the blister, but it’s usually a sock with cotton in it. If the bottom of your foot or your arch is getting blisters, that is typically a sign of socks.

Shoes Don’t Have a Break-in Period:
A running shoe shouldn’t have a break-in period unless it’s too small.  Another secret to buying running shoes is shoes should feel good in the store. Do you see a trend here?  Most people buy their running shoes too small and have to “break them in,” or they have to stretch.  If you purchase the correct size, they won’t do that.  You should be able to wiggle your toes before a run, during a run, and after a run.

Secrets to Buying Running shoe Conclusion:

At the end of the day, don’t buy shoes if it doesn’t feel right. Cushioned shoes should also feel good; you shouldn’t need to get used to how a brand cushions your feet.

Other related articles:
There is No Perfect Running Shoe
Why Running Shoe Reviews are (Mostly) Worthless
There is No Perfect Running Shoe

Love running? You can subscribe to my weekly newsletter or read more about running shoes in my ebook.

Questions for you:
What is something interesting and a secret you’ve learned about running shoes?
What is one running shoe you’ve tried but realized it wasn’t for you?


  1. Thanks for sharing this. I’ve been running for so long and still thought we needed a break in period. Makes sense though because I used to love wearing shoes a size too small (liked the super snug feeling).

  2. This is a great resource! My feet totally grew after college and I learned the hard way. Once I found a shoe I liked I stocked up and bought enough to last 2 years. I went from training for 5ks to training for a half and got injured. Turned out my feet had grown a whole size and that messed up the alignment just enough to cause an injury. Now I go buy a new pair from my local running store at least once a year to have them measure me and recommend a shoe based on any other changes 🙂

  3. These are great reminders! Since I usually wear Mizunos I don’t hesitate to switch to my new pair right away but if I’m changing models I do wear them on shorter runs first just in case!

  4. Great post! I love these kind of easy reads that give advice. I know nothing about trainers and actually mine have started to hurt a little so maybe my feet have grown?! Thanks for sharing x

  5. That’s interesting! I didn’t know about the lateral movements, but then I don’t use my running shoes for that haha! I remember I was super surprised when I learned that your shoes have to be a half-size bigger to allow for your feet movement as you run. How many shoes do you normally rotate?

  6. This is such good info! I did not know about my feet changing and growing over time and, learned that lesson the hard way!! I also love that you wrote there is no break in period!! They either fit or they don’t!! Don’t suffer in too small shoes people!

  7. It’s funny how working at a running store can change what we think is common knowledge. People talk about how their shoes give them blisters all the time, or that they need to break in their shoes and I cringe and try to say nicely, “actually, you don’t need to break them in anymore with the way the technology has evolved.” When I started working at CCR, I threw out every single pair of socks in my closet and replaced them with the ones from the store. I never realized how much of a difference it made.

  8. For a few years I ran in the asics nimbus, and then heard the kayano was more supportive so I switched, and now I’m in the pegasus and running better than I ever have. I had no idea gait determined the kind of shoe you need and I used to buy “support” shoes thinking they would be best for me.

  9. I am so glad I went to a running specialty store to get fitted for shoes. I was wearing neutral shoes when I first started running and ended up injured. I learned I needed stability shoes with a lot of cushion.

    I find I need a “break-in” period – but its not so much about breaking in the shoes as it is making sure that the laces are just right , etc.

  10. Amen to all of these. My feet have grown an entire size since I started running. I also agree you should not have to break in a shoe. When I find a shoe model I like, I expect to get a great run in them right out of the box. Chris even raced in a brand new pair of Ghosts this weekend!

  11. Yes to upping size. I am a 10 in street shoes and held on to a 10.5 in running shoes for so long. Finally about 6 months ago I was like lets just try an 11. Life changing. Huge feet but whatever, game changer.

  12. I don’t know why I never realized that you’re feet can still grow. I just assumed when we’re done growing height-wise, our feet are done too. These are all really interesting. I can’t believe how long I used to only run in cotton socks. Never again now!

  13. Great tips Hollie, one I would add is that shoe models can change drastically from year to year. I used to wear the Brooks PureFlow’s but there is a huge difference between the 2’s, and the 5’s, I’ve noticed the same came be said about Asics, Mizuno and other brands. Don’t assume that because you wear a certain model the new releases will fit the same. I had to change back to Asics after years in Brooks! 🙂

  14. I interestingly think my feet have gotten smaller since I was younger! Either that or I just always bought my shoes too big… I didn’t know about the socks causing blisters instead of the shoes though! I hate spending money on socks so mine are all old and worn out… this might motivate me to get some new ones. Thanks for a great post!

    1. That’s super interesting Kara. I wonder if you were wearing too big of shoes. Thank you for stopping by 🙂

  15. I knew about the break in period, but not that socks were the culprit with blisters. Great information so thank you for this.

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