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7 Tips for choosing the right running shoes

Laura Williams, M.S.Ed. is a personal trainer, freelance writer and entrepreneur who works with a wide variety of fitness clients. She's the founder of the popular website, - Girls Gone Sporty, and she's the host of the High Impact Blogg...

When it comes to running shoes, it's important to get the right fit. Use these steps to find the right running shoe for you.

woman buying running shoes

Photo credit: Hongqi Zhang/iStock/360/Getty Images

Your feet are the foundation for your running routine, which means your shoes can make or break your experience. Wearing the wrong shoes, or wearing the right shoes for too long can lead to pain, injury, and a break from the activity you love. While you might want to #runfor stress relief or to fulfill your competitive drive, when your shins and arches start to ache, it's time to #runfor the shoe aisle to grab a new pair.


Buy in-store

Unless you plan on re-buying the same brand and style of running shoes you already have, you really should make your shoe purchases in-store. The in-store experience gives you the chance to try on different brands and styles so that the shoes you purchase actually offer your feet the best support.

And don't assume that the upgraded version of the shoe you've been wearing is the same as the shoe you've been wearing. A new iteration of the same style may not support your foot the way the old iteration did.


Get fitted

Your feet grow and change over time. If you've gained or lost weight, you've been through a pregnancy or you've significantly changed your activity level, your foot size might have changed. It's always a good idea to ask to be fitted before trying on shoes. It'll save you the hassle of trying on multiple sizes of the same shoe.

When you ask to be fitted, also ask if the store rep can tell you whether you have a neutral gait, or if you're prone to pronation or supination (whether your foot rolls inward or outward when you walk or run). This can affect the type of shoe that's best for your foot.


Wear the right socks

Try on your running shoes while wearing the same type of sock that you plan to wear when running. If you're not wearing running shoes to the store, this takes a little forethought. Throw a pair of your own socks into your purse before you head out, or buy a new pack of socks when you're at the store so you can try on the shoes with the right socks. By trying on your running shoes with appropriate running socks, you'll be able to gauge whether the shoes really fit you correctly. Relying on heavy wool socks or thin hose effectively changes the fit of the shoe.


Try on many options

I wear a size 11 shoe, which until recently wasn't widely available at sporting goods stores. I've always just walked around the store yanking every size 11 box down off the shelf so I could try them all on. You may not want to try on every single shoe available, but do try on an assortment of brands and styles. The more you try on, the easier it will be to tell when a shoe feels really good and fits your foot well. Plus, if you always limit yourself to a particular brand, you might end up missing out on a great shoe.


Run around

If you plan to use your shoes for running, then you need to run in them. Just because a shoe feels good when you're sitting down or standing up doesn't mean it'll feel good when you're sprinting down a straightaway or jogging down a hill. You may not be able to test-drive your shoes in a real-life setting, but you can run a few laps around the store to see how they feel.


Make sure they're suited to your needs

Not every running shoe comes with the same features. Make sure you're choosing shoes that are appropriate for your situation. For instance, will you be running on the street, or running trails? If you'll be running outside, do you need shoes that are water-resistant? Will you be running hills?

When I lived in Oregon, I always purchased water-resistant shoes because I knew most of my runs would be taking place in the rain. Likewise, many of my runs were hill runs, which meant I needed to look for shoes that would prevent my feet from slipping forward when running down hills, beating my toes into the front of the shoe.

Think about how and where you run, and look for shoes designed to fit your needs.


Check return policies

Different stores have different policies when it comes to running shoes. You'd hate to get home, take the shoes for a test drive, realize they're all kinds of wrong then realize you can't return them because you've worn them. Always ask about returns before you make a purchase.

Do you have a go-to running shoe brand? How did you buy your last pair of shoes?

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