Running 101: How to Buy Good Running Shoes

running 101Running 101 is Go Girl’s new series on all those things we assume everyone knows, but doesn’t.  We hope that over the years, we will continue to learn and remember to share all those really simple things that make running the sport we love.

How does the average person buy good running shoes? Before I knew what to do, I would pick on price and color. At the time, my budget was about 60 bucks so I would look at all the $60 pairs and pick a color that I did not think was too offensive.

About half the time I loved the shoes. And then, there was the other half of the time. Basically I paid about $120 for each pair since I only liked 50% of them.

Oh, and I typically bought online.

I would recommend you NOT do this.

How to Buy a Good Pair of Running Shoes

  1. Ideally you want to go to a local running store. If you do not have a local store, I would actually encourage you to make the longer drive to a larger city. Specifically, you want a small, specialty running store, not a big box store. Take the time to go through their fitting process and let them recommend 3-5 pairs for you to try. Put all of those on and run in them. Do not just walk around the store. They will feel different when you actually run in them.
  2. If you do have to order online, I would order a neutral pair (it should say this in the description) from one of the top companies, specifically Brooks, Saucony, New Balance or Asics. There are of course a lot of other good shoes, these just happen to be the most tried and true. A good pair would retail between $90 and $160. Of course it is fine to get them on sale, but if you are looking at shoes that regularly retail for $70, they will probably feel that way too.
  3. Make sure they are the right size. If you are at a local running store, they will do this for you, but if you do order online, you want your running shoe to be a half to a full size bigger than a regular shoe. So, if you wear a 9 in a sandal, you want at least a 9.5 in a running shoe and if you plan to run over 3 miles, I would recommend a size 10.
  4. Buy more than one pair if possible. At some point, you will need more than one pair of shoes. If you can afford them now, then get two different pairs. Why? By alternating your shoes, you are also alternating the stress on your body and are less likely to get injured.
  5. Most companies have a 30-day guarantee. This is generally true online and in the store. Don’t abuse this of course, but also know that you do not need to keep shoes that feel horrible. It can be really hard to tell what works until you are out running in them. Do try them several times before returning them though.

You don’t always need to pay top dollar, but you also don’t want to buy without some help.  It can be tempting, especially after you have run for 20 years like I have, to not seek advice and not take the time to explore your options.  The reality is that our bodies change, our needs change, our lives change, and perhaps so does our optimal shoe.  So this isn’t just for the beginner, but even those of us who have been running for years…and think we know it all.

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