What shoes should you run in? Honestly… I have no idea! The ONLY person who can help you make that decision is the person working at your local running store. Not someone fast on Instagram, not your neighbor who has ran for 25 years, and not that lady with the flashy kicks in the super market.
Other than being a running coach, and a personal trainer for the last 6 years, I also recently started working at a local running store. It’s been quite the change in career, but I’ve absolutely loved it. I've learned more about shoes and other parts of running that I never really thought twice about before. So now I 100% tell all my athletes to go to a local running store and get checked out to find the right shoes for them.
Every foot is different, every runner is different, and every athlete’s needs are different. A good running store will do a gait analysis and ask multiple questions to help find the correct shoe for you. What does a gait analysis involve?
Checking your arch height
Seeing where your lower leg bones (tibia and fibula) line up over your ankle
Watching how your knee tracks over your foot as you bend your knee forward
Watching how you walk/ run to check for pronation or supination
Sizing both your feet (because they may be different sizes!)
Checking out the bottom tread and collars of some of your most recent pairs of running shoes to look at the wear patterns
All of these mini tests take less than 5 minutes total, but can save you a lot of time (and pain) in the long run. Most runners buy shoes that are a size too small… which can cause cramping, blisters, calluses and black toenails. A good rule of thumb is to go up 1 full shoe size from what you are measured on the Brannock foot measuring system… which your local running store employee should do for you automatically!
Types of shoes and the individual who wears them:
Neutral- Typically someone with a high arch, does not need stability, may supinate (ankles roll out)
Stability- Could still have a decent arch height, but tends to pronate (ankles roll in) causing the arch to collapse a bit each step.
Motion Control- Very low arch or flat footed and pronates excessively.
Trainers- Come in all the above categories. Worn for most runs. Typically last 300-500 running miles.
Racers- Typically very light weight, but also have extremely limited miles to them. Worn usually during speed sessions and during races. They are mostly neutral, but a few brands do sell light stability. Be sure to check if they are for shorter (mile, 5 or 10k) or can handle longer (half marathon, marathon) races.
Trail- Usually come in neutral, but some brands also make them with light stability. Will have more traction on the bottom to help grip dirt, rock, forest trails. Some brands will also make trail shoes in waterproof material (gortex).
Brand of shoe vs Model of shoe:
There are so many shoes on the market… and I’ve often heard “I run in Brooks (or insert any brand here… Nike, Saucony, New Balance, Hoka… just to name a few!). But truly, that’s not super helpful. The MODEL of the shoe is more important. Brooks Levitate vs Brooks Transcend are extremely different shoes. New Balance 860s vs 880s… very different. Knowing the model of the shoe you’ve been running in can be extremely helpful to the running store employee.
Money Saving Options:
Check the clearance wall. A lot of shoe stores will have last year’s color on sale.
Ask if they take any discounts… military, student, running club.
Join the “frequent buyer program” if the store has one.
Whatever you do… don’t just go off the looks or color of the shoe. Buy the shoes the employee suggests because they know their stuff!