Advice From an Expert: How to Buy a New Pair of Running Shoes
We all like to hit the pavement looking sharp from head to toe, but there’s a whole lot more to buying a great pair of running shoes than choosing the ones that match your favorite outfit.
We spoke with shoe expert Kris Hartner, the owner of Naperville Running Company outside of Chicago, to teach you how to secure your next pair of running kicks. Hartner has been in the industry for decades, ever since his first job at a running specialty store as teenager in the 1980s.
Not only are running specialty employees trained to analyze your foot and stride, but stores also offer a premier and curated shoe selection.
“We only stock shoes that are performance-oriented,” says Hartner. “They have to be able to handle the rigors of running a marathon. We pick shoes based on athlete performance.”
Running specialty stores will also be the hot spot to find this year’s Floatride shoe for serious runners come April. The new Floatride shoe offers an innovative cushioning system that is both soft and responsive, giving runners the feeling of floating through their miles.
The last thing a marathon hopeful needs is a poor shoe choice getting in the way of a PR, so Hartner dished on his five best tips for your next shopping trip.
1. Size Up
“The most common mistake is that people come in wearing the wrong size,” says Hartner. “People wear their shoes too small, especially on the women’s side.”
Feet often swell while running long distances, and running socks are often thicker than normal ones, so don’t be surprised if your running shoe size is larger than your flats or heels.
2. Ignore Shoe Envy
“People will come in thinking that they’re going to get the same shoe their friend has,” says Hartner. “You have to think of it like glasses. If you liked your friend’s glasses, you wouldn’t go get them and wear them around because they’re made for each individual.”
No one expects you to buy a pair of shoes you think are ugly, but the feel is more important than the look. Sales associates will help you find an alternative that satisfies both requirements so you can earn style points and run fast at the same time.
3. Focus on the Feel
“A new pair of shoes should feel like a slipper,” says Hartner.
“We go about fitting people based on their comfort. The research has come back to show that even with stability, neutral, motion, pronation, and everything else considered, the most important factor in the end is comfort.”
Running specialty stores have technologies and expertise to help you find the best running shoe for your needs, but no one knows your comfort more than you. Be vocal about how the shoe feels when you’re going through a fitting so you can find the pair that makes you the most comfortable.
4. Consider Multiple Pairs
“There is a lot of research supporting rotating out multiple styles of shoes,” says Hartner. “Two to three pairs in rotation will help combat injuries because different shoes assure that you’re not making the same movements over and over and over.”
5. Break Them In
You should be able to take your new shoes out for a spin straight out of the box, but take it easy before knocking out a long run. Hartner suggests wearing them around the house for a day or going for a few short distance runs to allow them to mold to your foot.
“Don’t just run in them once or twice and give up on them,” says Hartner. “If you can give the shoes eight to 10 runs, that’s when I’d say your feet will get used to the shoe. After 10 runs and it’s still uncomfortable, then it’s time to get yourself in a new shoe.”
Most running specialty stores have generous return policies, so if you still don’t like them, take them back and find the pair that will help your PR your next race.
How do you find shoes that help you float through your runs? Let us know by tweeting at @Reebok !