If you picked your current pair of running shoes based strictly on looks, you're not alone. In fact, that's how most people approach the task. Do these shoes look cool? Yes! Sold. However, Kate Reese, manager of Brooklyn Running Co. (the borough's only independently owned specialty running store), points out that finding the most comfortable, functional pair for your individual needs demands looking beyond the shoe's aesthetic value—but without driving yourself mad over the details, either.
"You don't want to overthink it," says Reese. "If the shoe feels foreign or like it needs to be broken in over time—it's not the right shoe for you. They should feel comfortable enough to walk right out the door with."
But how do you find that dream shoe? Here, Reese sheds light on the most common problems standing between you and running shoe perfection.
You Probably Don't Have the Right Size
"It's a huge misconception that running shoes should be the same size as your other footwear," explains Reese. What you actually need to do is buy half a size bigger—or, in some cases, even a whole size. Otherwise, you're putting your foot at risk for damage further down the road.
Learn Your Foot Type
One of the easiest ways to sort out any running shoe troubles is to get a gait analysis, which can be as simple as having a shoe specialist watch you walk; some stores even have computers that will film your steps and analyze them to determine your needs, or you can always just test yourself at home. "When you get out of the shower, look at the imprint your foot leaves on the floor. If it's pancake-flat and you don't see an arch, you probably need a stability shoe," says Reese. This is known as overpronation—or flat feet, to be less technical.
If your footprint is a little bit higher and raised, that could be an indication you don't actually need extra arch support in your running shoe. "If you don't overpronate, don't let yourself stumble into a corrective shoe," warns Reese. "It can push you too far outside of your foot—and over the course of miles and miles, having your foot pushed into an unnatural position can take a toll."
Flat-footed? These will do the trick:
- Lunarglide 7, $125, nike.com.
- Supernova Glide Boost, $130, adidas.com.
- Gel-Super J33 2, $100, asics.com.
- Men's Distance IV, $101, newtonrunning.com.
- Men's Steady 3 Fulcrum Deep Navy, $48, karhu.com.
Think About the Surfaces You'll Be Running on
Over the last four or five years there's been a movement toward minimal running shoes that are lightweight, flexible, and don't include much cushioning, explains Reese. "The idea is, if you don't have much shoe, you'll be forced to run in a more efficient way. Unfortunately, if you haven't been running for a while, or you're running on concrete and pavement, you're going to need extra cushion and support to protect your foot."
Need more cushioning? These are designed for extra comfort: