With so many options available, finding the right pair of running shoes can be tricky. Here’s how you can avoid making these a few common mistakes and dial in your running shoe-buying strategy.
PLACING TOO MUCH EMPHASIS ON LOOKS
Sure, you want to look fashionable while you run. But this should not be at the top of your priority list when you’re shopping for a new pair of shoes. While this doesn’t mean you have to settle for neon green if you hate the color, you should switch your thinking just a bit when shoe shopping. Think of running shoes more as a tool that can affect your performance instead of adding style to your look while you’re exercising.
PURCHASING NEW MODELS ONLINE
If you purchase the same model running shoe year after year and are certain of your size, fit and comfort, buying shoes online is convenient and allows you to easily shop around for the best deal possible. However, if you’re looking for a new brand or model you’ve never worn before, head to a specialty running store that allows you to try on several different models.
ASSUMING YOU KNOW YOUR SHOE SIZE
Between brands, shoe sizes can vary. Your shoe size can also change over the years, so when you’re ready to buy a new pair, get your foot measured before you buy.
NOT FOCUSING ON FIT
The fit of your running shoe is one of the most important factors to consider when buying a new shoe. Shoe volume, room in the toe box and snugness of the heel counter are all things you shouldn’t settle for unless the fit is perfect. You’ll also want to make sure the upper is shaped liked your foot and doesn’t chafe or irritate it. Lacing designs play a factor in how secure and comfortable the shoe is, so make sure you lace both shoes up and check for slipping on the heel or discomfort at the top of the foot.
SHOPPING IN THE MORNING
Your foot is not the same size in the morning as it is in the evening. Once you wake up, your feet swell throughout the day, and will be significantly larger around 4 p.m. than they were at 8 a.m. For this reason, it’s best to wait until the afternoon to go shoe shopping. This helps you avoid purchasing a running shoe that’s too small and potentially causes blisters or sore spots when you’re running.
TRYING ON SHOES WITHOUT RUNNING SOCKS
How thick or thin your socks are can make a bigger difference in how your shoe fits than you realize. Always try on running shoes with the same socks you wear while you work out instead of trying them on with whatever you have on or opting for the shoe liners provided in the store. This ensures the shoe fits correctly and is comfortable.
CHOOSING A SHOE THAT DOESN’T FIT ITS INTENDED PURPOSE
Running shoes are designed for particular surfaces. Do you run mostly on trails, or do you stick strictly to the road? Do you prefer shorter races or long-distance events? These are all factors to consider in deciding which shoe you should purchase. Buying a lightweight racing flat because it looks cool when you need a supportive shoe for the trail or a cushioned shoe for a marathon only ends up leading to an injury and an unhappy pair of feet.
NOT KNOWING THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN NEUTRAL AND STABILITY SHOES
Your arch, the shape of your foot and how you strike the ground are all things that can play a role in whether or not you need a neutral running shoe or one that provides more support. If you haven’t done so before, head to a specialty running store that can analyze your gait while you run. If you have low arches and pronate, a motion control running shoe might be a better fit than a neutral shoe. If you’re a lightweight, efficient runner, you’ll have a different selection of shoes to choose from.
RELYING TOO MUCH ON SHOE REVIEWS
Reading shoe reviews to get a feel for the type of shoe you are considering is one thing. Relying only on the review to make a decision is another. Just because one person really likes a shoe, reviewer or not, doesn’t mean it is the right shoe for you. The bottom line: You still need to try the shoe on, make sure it fits and is comfortable to wear while you run. What’s right for one person can be totally wrong for another.