Finding the best-fitting shoe among the numerous choices at your local running store isn’t always easy. To ensure you walk out a happy customer, you need to make sure the shoe fits properly from heel to toe and that it feels comfortable with your regular running stride.
When choosing, however, you usually only have a few minutes to run in a couple of models. That’s why we are here to help.
Before you even put your foot in a new pair of running shoes, it’s helpful to know all the little details of the kicks that will be with you over the next several hundred miles, along with what to expect during the shoe buying process. Specialty running store staffers see runners making the same mistakes again and again when they come in to buy shoes. But not you, not anymore, thanks to this advice from five prominent store owners/managers.
Mistake #1: Buying for looks. “Some runners are too concerned with fashion, and we try and steer people away from that. Often, when they get a shoe that looks cool, they end up coming back in a few months and saying, ‘This shoe hurts me. I had a problem with it.’ When you buy, think feel and fit, not fashion.”—Bryan Mahon, Philadelphia Runner, Philadelphia
Mistake #2: Not asking for deals. “When you’re ready to pay, ask if there are any discounts available for running club members. Most specialty stores offer discounts from 10 to 20 percent; we offer 10 percent to our local track club. It costs $20 to join it, so if you buy two pairs of shoes, your track membership is paid for.”—Tim Rhodes, Run For Your Life, Charlotte, North Carolina
Mistake #3: Buying shoes that are too small. “Tight-fitting shoes lead to blisters and black toenails and that kind of thing. Women in particular are used to wearing their shoes close-fitting, as they’re often more self-conscious about the size of their feet. We like to say, ‘Play the piano with your toes,’ meaning the fit should be roomy enough in the forefoot—about half an inch—but not sloppy.”—Mike Johnson, Road Runner Sports, San Diego
Mistake #4: Shopping at the wrong time of day. “A lot of times people come in the morning and say, ‘This is the shoe I need.’ Then they’ll come back the next day and say, ‘I wore them at 5 p.m. and they were too small.’ Your feet start swelling in the morning and they don’t stop until about 4 p.m. That’s as big as they’re going to get, so always buy your shoes in the evening.”—Tish Borgen, Running Room, Minneapolis
Mistake #5: Assuming your size. “People assume that a size is a size—that an 8 in a Nike will be the same as an 8 in a New Balance. But sizes differ because of different lasts (foot forms), the different shape of the upper, and the way the shoe is stitched together. Have your feet measured every time you buy, and always try the shoes on for fit.”—Johnny Halberstadt, who co founded the Boulder Running Company in Boulder, Colorado
Aside from these running shoe no-no's the experts at RunnersWorld share some final tips:
- It’s best to go to a specialty running shop (not a big-box or department store) where a salesperson can watch you run and help you select a pair of shoes that offer your feet the support they need.
- You may think you know your size, but it’s best to get your feet measured each time you buy new shoes. Your feet change over time, and one model’s fit can be drastically different from another’s.
- When you go shopping, take along the shoes, socks, and any inserts that you’ve been using. That way you can make a realistic evaluation of how well the new shoe will fit your feet.
- Shoes should be replaced every 500 to 800 kilometres. Keep track of the date that you bought them in your training log.