Running shoes are arguably the most important piece of gear you’ll use in training and time spent now selecting that shoe will make a huge difference in comfort and injury prevention. Thanks to Joe and SkiRack for guiding Rookie Justin through the fitting process and letting us capture every moment.
Do I need new shoes?
If your running shoes are more than a year old, have more than 500 miles on them, are starting to show signs of breakdown (foam permanently compressed, tears in fabric or worn soles) or you’re experiencing achy knees or shins (that aren’t part of another injury), it’s time for a new pair of shoes.
How do I start?
If it’s been a while since your last fitting or you’ve never had a shoe assessment done, get thee to a local running store with qualified fit experts. It will take a little longer than grabbing a box at the sporting goods store, but is worth it for great fit and function.
Despite the well-meaning shoe guides that are released every season, the bottom line is that running shoes are individual. What works for another person with the same foot type may not be the best choice for you. Shoe companies are forever tweaking small things even in popular models, so the upgrade of your favorite running shoe may no longer fit the same. Whether you do a full fitting or not, try on every shoe before buying to check fit. And no, color is not a good reason to pick a running shoe.
What happens at a shoe fitting?
Be prepared to answer lots of questions about how many miles you run, how many runs per day, any injuries or other restrictions and your training plans. You will get your foot measured, the expert will watch you walk barefoot and possibly ask you to run in your old shoes. All of these things allow them to assess your level of pronation and examine your biomechanics.
Once you start to try on shoes, expect to run on the treadmill and review videotape of you in each shoe. You may be able to see differences between each shoe, but if you don’t see or don’t understand why one is a better shoe, ask! The staff is highly trained on all lines of shoes and should be able to answer almost any question.
Don’t be alarmed if you’re told that you pronate. The majority of us do; it’s the way our bodies are set up to move forward. Pronation isn’t typically a major issue, but sometimes does require the addition of an insole or a shoe with some stability in the post area to help correct.
Expect to wear a larger size running shoe than street shoe. Because our feet swell when running and because a snug fit will result in blisters and lost toenails, running shoes are usually a half to full size larger.
Be honest about fit and feel. Do you like the lacing system? Does the shoe feel secure in the heel cup and roomy enough in the toe box? If a shoe isn’t comfortable in the store, it’s not going to get better on a run.
The Rookie Says:
(This was Justin’s first experience with a full shoe fitting, so who better to summarize the experience.)
For going back at least 15 years I have always approached shoe buying with little to no enthusiasm, primarily since running shoes are 1) expensive and 2) I knew nothing on the topic. I would only buy new shoes after my old ones had developed open, visible sores by means of ripping/tearing and falling apart.
Many people are VERY uninformed when it comes to shopping for running shoes. Joe brought out at least six pairs of sneakers and I tried them all on. I “test drove” a few on the house treadmill which allowed Joe to film my running style. From the video, Joe was able to recommend the proper pair of shoes.
So happens the pair of Brooks that I had been running in had support in all the wrong places, something about my foot’s pronation. Joe was able to fit me in the right shoe and today I remain a happy customer. Joe selected the Brooks Ghost 4 for me; but this one was vastly different than the standard “off the shelf” Brooks shoes I had picked for myself, by myself, in the past. It had support in the right places and felt like a natural fit.