The plethora of different opinions on running shoes—and what makes a good or a bad one—can make it harder than it needs to be to pick out a pair that’s perfect for you.
The goal at the end of the day is to find a good pair of running shoes that are made for your own specific needs and that feel great after logging some miles in them.
Use this guide as your cheat sheet the next time you find yourself in the market for a new pair of running shoes.
Location, Location, Location
Specialty running stores—stores that sell only running-related shoes and gear—are one of the best destinations to head to if you need a pair of running shoes. The staff members are typically runners, and have been trained by either the store or the brands themselves to outfit you in the perfect pair of shoes.
If you don't live near a specialty retailer, head to a big box store armed with some research and you can be confident that the employees’ knowledge combined with your own will guide you to the right pair of shoes for your needs.
The individual who is fitting you should be a runner who has been trained to analyze a gait after watching you run and walk. Don't presume that someone who is older has more knowledge than younger associates. A college student who has spent several summers working in the store may know more and have more experience than someone else. Don't feel bad asking for credentials when your health and fitness is at stake.
The sales person is likely going to ask you a bunch of questions about your running. Come prepared with well-thought-out answers so you aren't put on the spot. Questions might include: How often do you run? What is your typical weekly mileage? Are you training for anything specifically? Will you be increasing your mileage in the near future?
Your Old Shoes
If it isn't your first time purchasing running shoes, bring in your old shoes. A skilled employee will find it helpful to look at the wear pattern on the shoes and analyze if the shoe you are currently running in is your best option. A shoe that has 300 to 500 miles on them is going to tell the story better than solely watching you run for a couple of minutes on a treadmill.
It's Okay To Care About Color
Twenty years ago, a brand made one, maybe two, color ways in a specific shoe. These days, companies are offering a plethora of color options for most models of their shoes. This means that it's okay to pick a color you like after you have found the shoe that fits you biomechanically. You want to feel confident in what you are wearing and if it's not fun to put your shoes on in the morning or you can't stand the way they look, they aren't going to help you reach your fitness goals.