August 1st, 2016

5 Tips to Find the Perfect Running Shoe

5 Tips to Find the Perfect Running Shoe

Feeling overwhelmed by all of the running sneaker choices on the shelves? Take a deep breath and use this guide to buy your next pair.


Once you’ve made the mental commitment to start running, everything should be downhill from there, right? Not so fast. Don’t make the rookie mistake of busting out your old gym sneakers from the back of your closet, throwing them in your bag, and assuming that you’re good to go. Before you can run well, you've got to be sure that you’ve selected the best pair of sneakers for your feet and goals. Keep these tips in mind while you shop and you’ll be racing comfortably in no time.

1. Pick Your Goal (and Distance)

If you’re aiming to be a casual runner who logs a few miles on the weekends, you’ll need a different type of running sneaker than someone who trains for long-distance races. Here’s what you should be looking for, depending on what kind of runner you are (or want to be):

  • Low-key runners should look for a lightweight, flexible shoe that can work for jogging, as well as going to gym classes and running errands.
  • Runners who are training for a race will want a shoe with some stability, preferably one that corrects and protects their gait (more on that below). Look for a shoe with added arch support and cushion in the sole to give your run an extra boost. These shoes help promote endurance by giving your leg muscles some much needed support.
  • Trail runners may want to invest in a minimalist shoe that will make it feel like they're running barefoot (without twigs actually getting stuck between the toes).

2. Size Up

You don’t want your running sneakers to be too tight, or even snug. This can cause chaffing, blisters, black toenails, and all around zero motivation to lace up and head out for a run. If you’re between sizes, always go up versus down a size. Your athletic shoe size is likely to be larger than your dress shoe size, so always try on at least one pair (ideally, a few) and have the store clerk evaluate the fit. Also, ask if the shoe you're interested in comes in different widths. Some brands, such as New Balance and Asics, offer options. If a sneaker fits correctly, there should be about a thumb's width of space between your longest toe and the tip of the sneaker, and the shoe shouldn't slip at all around the heel.

3. Figure Out Your Form

If you’ve never visited a running store, pop in to one and see a consultant, who will have you slowly run as he or she watches how your foot strikes the ground to see if your feet roll outward, roll inward, or remain neutral. (Some stores even have treadmills.) This will help the consultant steer you toward the sneaker that's right for you.

4. Ditch the Trends

It’s tempting to shop based on sneaker color, but the look of the shoe won’t do you any favors if it’s the wrong style for you. Shop with functionality in mind first, and then see if the brand that you want comes in a color that you like.

5. Double Up

Once you’ve found the shoe that you love, buy two pairs! Rotate them between your runs and your sneakers will last longer. And be sure to replace them after 300 to 500 miles to avoid injury.

When you travel, don't forget to toss your sneakers in a Pack-It Specter Shoe Sac or a Pack-It Sport Shoe Locker so you don't leave a mess behind in your bag.

What do you look for in a running sneaker? Post your tips and tricks below!­

Related Links (from Eagle Creek blog)

What to Pack for Your First Ragnar Relay Race

5 Incredibly Scenic (and Challenging) Running Trails

5 Destination Half-Marathons Worth Traveling For

by Colleen Travers

Colleen Travers writes about health, fitness, travel, and women’s lifestyle for various publications.

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