How to buy Running Shoes
Buying new running shoes may feel like a chore. With so many colorful brands to choose from, how do you know which one you should buy? With a few quick tips and some help from the pros, I think anyone can have a great shoe buying experience.
For years, I purchased all of my shoes from Run n’ Fun in St. Paul. They always have some of the best local prices. They give a discount when you purchase two or more. Last time I opted to stick with an older model and they gave it to me for 30% off. When you’re running on a budget, everything helps!
I recently purchased two new pairs of running shoes. I always purchase two at a time because each has a different use. I wear the Asics Kayano 18 which is a more supportive shoe for longer runs and the Asics DS Trainer which is lighter for speed work. Rotating not only gives me flexibility during training, but it makes the shoe last longer and allows the cushioning to rebound between runs.
Here’s what you need to know before making your first shoe purchase.
Know your Feet
There’s a lot of science involved in feet. Figuring out what type of feet you have is crucial. There are three basic things you need to know.
- Arches. Do you have high, low or neutral arches? The “wet foot” test is the best way to find out. Cut open a brown paper bag. Fill a baking sheet with water. Dip your bare foot in water and take one step on the paper bag. Review the imprint that your foot left on the surface and compare to the ones below.
- Mechanics. Each time your foot hits the ground, it either rolls out (underpronation or supination) or rolls in (pronation). Knowing this will help you figure out how much support you need. The best way to do this is to setup a video camera and record yourself on a treadmill.
- Feel. At some point, you just have to try them on and see what’s feels right. I have a friend who swears by Nike, but they kill my feet. Your feet will tell you if you’re in a good fit or not. Listen to them!
Once you know this, I HIGHLY encourage you to head to Mill City Running, Run N’ Fun or another specialty running shop. They can help find a shoe that works with your foot type and running style. They have a treadmill and let you try out a pair and watch you run. They did this for me years ago and narrowed it down to a few different brands. The Asics fit well and after four or five models, they are as good as ever.
Should you Shop Online?
I say no! Although perhaps cheaper, I’m an advocate of supporting the local shops. Not only do they know what they are talking about, but they are also runners. To me, paying a few bucks more is worth it for the customer care they provide.
That being said… sometimes you don’t have easy access to a local store, or are unable to get there in a timely manner. If that is the case (and only then), use this link to find your shoe. A few cents will go back to support the blog, and cost you nothing extra.
Once you’ve found a shoe that works, stick with it! I’ve talked with runners who want to get a totally different brand every time they go to the store. If you’ve spent the time to get a really good fitting shoe, don’t change. Stick to what you know!
See Olympian Carrie Tollefson’s chat with Run N’ Fun about proper shoe selection.