Buying Running Shoes the Right Way

shoes with insoles for running

Choosing the right running shoe isn't always a simple task, but investing the time to find the best running shoes to keep your feet happy is always time well spent.  Keep these "rules of engagement" in mind when buying a new pair of running shoes:  


Shoes should be properly laced without restricting the foot's movement. Note any chafing or fit issues in the store. Improper fit or lacing won't improve on the road.


According to a spokesperson for the Shoe Review Committee of the American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine, design characteristics and shoe dimensions differ by manufacturer.

Comparing these features can help you identify the "likely suspects" of brands and models you should be picking from.  This can help avoid sore feet in the long run.  

If your feet are comfortable with a certain brand of athletic shoe, the odds are higher that another style in the same brand will be comfortable as well. You can also ask your podiatrist about the running shoes they recommend for you.  

There's likely a specific shoe that could benefit you if you have a foot condition (heel pain, arthritis, sore feet, etc).  

Occasionally, over the counter arch support insoles can be of benefit if your doctor has recommended them for your type of foot.


Joe Pulleo and Patrick Milroy ("Running Anatomy") say that running shoe fit is often a subjective assessment. Consider how your shoes fit now and how much mileage your running shoes must support over the next training season.

Aches and pains in the legs and feet can occur several days after buying new running shoes. That's because some shoe fit issues surface relatively quickly after purchase. "A shoe model (that's) not correct for a runner's biomechanics, weight, flexibility or foot shape: discomfort or injury will occur within the first 100 miles of running."


The flexibility of the forefoot portion of new running shoes is crucial, says Simone Payment ("What Happens to Your Body When You Run?").  This portion of the shoe actually determines the compatibility of the shoe to your foot.

To test flexibility, bend the shoe (holding the forefoot and heel). Then, compare the "flex point" of foot with that of the shoe. The shoe should not bend in any other spot but the ball of your foot.


If existing running shoes have already logged 300 to 500 miles, it's time to buy new shoes. According to "Running Well" authors Sam Murphy and Sarah Connors, prolong the life of running shoes with good care.

Don't wash them in the washer or rinse after a run. Allow wet shoes to dry naturally, away from radiators, before the next use.


Chances are you've already made some of these mistakes. Remember, buying a gorgeous pair of bright green running shoes that don't fit isn't just a financial mistake:

MISTAKE #1: Choosing form or style over function.

Stores catering to runners understand that runners love fashion. However, experienced running store owners often suggest the shoes they believe fit you best, say authors Jeff Galloway and Barbara Galloway ("Women's Guide to Running") The wrong shoes can also cause serious problems, e.g. stress fractures and strains.

MISTAKE #2: Forget to ask about running club, employer and other discounts.

Let's face it. Running shoes are expensive. Don't be afraid to ask for loyalty discounts.

MISTAKE #3: Buy the wrong size running shoe.

Running shoe sizes vary by design and manufacturer. Be aware that your size may be very different from one brand and style to the next.

MISTAKE #4: Purchase running shoes without enough time to find the right shoes. 

Don't shop for running shoes without the time to try on enough shoes and ask questions.  If you're more alert and energetic in the morning, take that into consideration before shopping.

MISTAKE #5: Buying online one pair at a time.

Some online shoe retailers ( is one) offer free shipping and free returns on most purchases. Not sure which size is right for you? Order the same shoe in multiple sizes. You can always try them all on when they arrive, and simply return the sizes that don't fit.