How to Find Perfect Running Shoes
One of the most important decisions you can make as a runner is choosing the right pair of running shoes.
It’s important to spend both time and money to pick out the best shoes for you. Without proper running shoes, you won’t be running for very long. While you can choose a shoe off of the shelf, it’s important to get properly fitted by an expert.
Thinking out loud, proper running shoes are going to prevent many injuries such as shin splints and plantar fasciitis. They are going help you run faster and further because aches will be the last thing you’re thinking about.
So how do you find the best running shoes?
First, it’s important to realize there is no “best-running shoe.” Each running shoe is designed for a different foot type. What works for me, might not work for you or your friend. Reading internet shoe reviews isn’t going to help you find a shoe that will help you. Every foot is different, including your left and right.
Second, go to a running specialty store. Employees at running speciality stores go through training to figure out which shoes work for which feet. They can tell you within a matter of minutes which shoe will work for you. A process that can take you hours will be cut into minutes. Employees at running stores also have a wealth of knowledge about the sport of running including local events and races. They are runners themselves and will know local races or even doctors or podiatrists.
You should plan to spend time in the store because the employee will ask you several questions, take a look at your feet, gait and running form. Don’t get to the store 5 minutes before closing time and expect to have time to be fitted.
So what should you expect?
First, the employee will ask you several questions such as:
- What are you using the shoes for?
- Every day walking? Training? Racing? Gym classes? There is no right or “good” answer!
- Do you have any aches or pains? Do you have blisters or black toenails? Do you have shin splints or knee pain? Pain in your hips or back? Let the employee know everything and anything…but please don’t show me an open wound.
- What kind running are you doing?
- How often you run?
- Where do you run? What kind of surface are you running on? Grass? Sidewalk? The treadmill?
- Are you training for race or event
Those are just a few questions you might encounter about your personal activity.
Then the employee will look at the shape of your feet as well as the arch. It’s extremely common for someone to have two different sized feet. They will look to see if you pronate,supinate or have a neutral gait. Determining your foot type is the most important part of finding the right running shoes.
Next, the employee will measure your foot. Keep in mind, your foot size changes and grows. After having children, most women gain a half size. Even if you’ve been the same size for years, your foot might have gotten longer or wider.
Another thing to keep in mind is running shoes should be 1/2 to a full size bigger than your casual shoe size. There are very few exceptions to this rule. When you workout, your feet swell. If you are losing toenails, chances are your shoes are too small. Blisters also form at the top of your feet because of improper sizing. As someone who works in a speciality store, about 75% of athletes who come in are wearing the wrong size shoe.
After the employee is done proding you with questions, they’ll bring a few options that are best fits for you. They’ll have you try them on and run around in them. From there you will decide how you like the shoe. Do you prefer a soft shoe? Firm? Light weight or heavier? Only you can decide what feels right.
Make sure you are ready to run. Standing awkwardly in the shoe for one second isn’t going to decide whether you like the shoe or not. You should run in each pair of shoes. Trust the employee they have chosen appropriate shoes for you. The employee’s job isn’t too bring out the wrong shoes.
After making your final decision make sure to test your shoes at home too. If you develop pain, they may not be the right shoes. Most specialty stores have a policy to allow you to exchange the shoes even if you have run in them. For instance, the store I work at allows you to exchange shoes for up to two weeks. If they don’t work out, we want to know and for you to find something that does!
Since I work in a speciality running store, I do believe getting fit for a pair of shoes is one of the best things you can do for yourself as a runner. There is no right or wrong answer for the best pair of running shoes, but there is a right or wrong answer for the best pair for you.
Other Posts You Might be Interested In:
There is No Perfect Running Shoe
There Difference Between Runners and Non-Runners
Why Running Shoe Reviews are (Mostly) Worthless
Why You Should Rotate Running Shoes
Questions for you:
What are your current pair of running shoes?
Have you ever been fit for a pair of running shoes?