How to Pick the Best Running Shoes

While there is no single running shoe that is perfect for everyone, these tips will help you find a shoe that will be perfect for you.

A runner typing his shoes

Tip #1: Choose a Running-Specific Shoe

Running Shoes may look like other sneakers, but they contain specialized technology and design features that help you run. In running, your foot hits the ground in basically the same way with each step. Unlike sneakers, running shoes are designed to prevent injury from that repetitive motion by offering specific cushioning to aid in shock absorption, as well as design features to help move you forward with greater ease.

Tip #2: Get the Right Fit

If you only consider one factor when selecting a running shoe, it should be how it fits. A running shoe that doesn’t fit right will not only make your running experience painful, it could also lead to potential injury.

Running Shoe Fit Tips
Feet tend to spread as you run. They also tend to swell a bit throughout the day, so trying on your shoes in the afternoon or evening may provide a more accurate fit.
To accommodate foot spread, there should be roughly one thumb width between the end of your foot and the end of the shoe.
The shoe should wrap comfortably around your foot. It should not pinch or feel sloppy, and your foot should be centered on the platform of the shoe.
Some shoes may better accommodate a narrow or wide foot. Some shoes are even available in either wider or narrow size options. Standard shoe widths are D for men and B for women.

Tip #3: Choose the Right Type of Running Shoe

Running shoes are designed with specific purposes in mind. You should choose your running shoes based on what kind of running you want to do.

Everyday running shoeMost versatile optionCan handle all the running that most people doMost durable
Lightweight running shoeBest for faster workouts or racesLess durable than everyday shoes
Trail running shoeBest for running on the dirtLugs on the bottom provide better gripTYpically have a more durable upper
Shoe close-up

Tip #4: Know What You’re Paying For

When it comes to running shoes, a higher price tag usually correlates with more technology and comfort features, but that doesn’t mean you have to buy the most expensive shoes in order to enjoy a run. In a similar vein, opting for a very inexpensive pair may mean that the shoes aren’t designed with running in mind and may not hold up to the demands that running places on them.

Quality running shoes generally range in price from about $100 to $250. You should expect to pay in the $110 to $150 price range for running shoes that are very well suited to most runners’ daily needs.

Tip #5: Know the Lingo

Stack Height

Stack height is the term used to refer to the amount of material between your foot and the ground. Stack heights can range from barefoot, or minimally cushioned, to maximal, or highly cushioned. Most running shoes fall somewhere in the middle of the stack-height spectrum.

People who prefer running in shoes with minimal cushioning, or a low stack height, enjoy feeling the ground rather than the cushioning. They also appreciate what they describe as a more natural running experience. People who prefer running in shoes with maximal cushioning, or a high stack height, enjoy a plush running experience with a great deal of impact protection.

Heel-Toe Drop

Heel-toe drop describes the difference between the amount of material under the heel and the amount of material under the forefoot of a running shoe.

Most running shoes have more material under the heel to accommodate a stride where the heel is the first part of the foot to hit the ground. This helps absorb the impact of landing. Running shoes with a lower heel-toe drop have a more uniform thickness of material under the entire foot. This promotes a stride where the middle or front of the foot hits the ground first.

Pronation Control

Running shoes can be classified as either neutral or stability shoes. Neutral running shoes make up about 80% of running shoes. These models offer the largest selection and are best for most runners.

Stability running shoes contain technology that is designed to correct overpronation. Overpronation occurs when the ankle rolls excessively inward with each step, which can increase your chance of injury.

Runner stretching

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