The latest tech gear of running – moisture-wicking clothing, GPS watches, MP3 players, Airpods – pales in comparison to that one gear item that every runner needs and every runner owns. Veteran runners know that there’s only one tool that’s indispensable on the road – a good pair of running shoes.
But if you’re new to running, how do you know if the pair of running shoes you plan to buy are right for you?
Beginner won’t know how to choose an appropriate running shoes – unless they’re sports physicians or physical therapists. But some simple tips can help you get the best pair of running shoes for your feet, even if you have no idea what it means to ‘over-pronate’.
Just follow these guidelines:
Stay away from any all-purpose shoe stores. This includes your local discount department store, shoe stores that have “mart” in the title, and any store that also sells dress shoes. Even stores that appear to be sports-related like the ones where the salesclerks dress as referees – should be avoided. Unless you’re exceptionally lucky, instead of getting a serious runner as a salesclerk, you’ll end up with a high school student working for college tuition money.
Visit a “real” running store. You’ll know it’s a running store the second you step through the door. Moisture-wicking clothing will be on all the racks. The only footwear displayed will be running shoes. The décor might include race tee-shirts hung on the wall. And you’ll see all the basics that runners need, like energy gels, chafing lube and pepper spray. Odds are you’ll even see a few piles of race forms or fliers by the cash register.
Ask for a gait analysis. The best running stores will analyze your gait. Some do this by videotaping your feet while you run on a treadmill. Others just watch you as you run around the parking lot. An experienced running shoe salesperson will be able to tell your gait by watching you run. After determining if you over-pronate or under-pronate (or neither), the salesclerk will be able to suggest an appropriate running shoe, such as a stability shoe or motion control shoe.
Try some on. Then try on some more. If the sales clerk ever appears exasperated or annoyed because you keep trying on pair after pair, pick up your wallet and walk out of the store. Experienced runners know that a properly fitted running shoe can mean the difference between a great run and a horrible run. They also know that it can take a lot of time to find that perfect pair.
Run in them before you buy them. Before you purchase the shoes, take an opportunity to run in them. Use the store’s treadmill or head out to the parking lot. Any reputable running store will permit you to take the shoes for a “test drive” before you purchase them.
Ask about the return policy. No matter how much effort you put into shopping for running shoes, it’s still possible you’ll end up with a pair that feels like lead weight once you hit the two-mile mark on your next run. So ask about the store’s return policy. Most reputable running stores permit you to return the shoes within two weeks or thirty days, especially if they are not properly fitted to your foot.