How to buy the right running/walking shoes for your feet

My beloved shoes

My beloved shoes

For any runner, whether they run 100 miles a week or 5 miles a week, shoes are essential.  It is not just the shoes that are essential either, it is the fit of the shoes and the way the feet that use them work.  I did not know this before.  I just went to the most inexpensive and convenient sporting goods store and purchased some shoes.  This is not a good idea.  I know it seems like it is no big deal, but the heavier you are and the more you run, the more important having the correct shoe is.  It is not like the saying, “if the shoe fits….”  It might fit, but it might cause you heart ache as the minutes turn to miles.

Since I started running, I have went through a couple of different types of shoes.  They all seemed good, but as time went one and I found the best shoe for my foot, I realized that the shoe has a big impact on our entire bodies.  I have found that the improper shoes that I used at first made my hips hurt, my toes black, and my ankles sore.  Now I am in shoe heaven with the pair in the picture.  Here is my advice on how to buy shoes that will make your feet happy.

  1. Only go to a specialty running shop that is willing to watch you run or walk.  They will do this via a camera on a treadmill or by watching you run down the parking lot.  This is the essential first step in buying good shoes.  These stores know about running and walking so if you are not a runner, don’t worry about that.  They will still have the knowledge and expertise to help you.
  2. Bring in an old wore out pair of shoes when you make your first visit to the above store.  The knowledgeable staff at these types of stores will know right away how your foot works by looking at the wear on your sole.
  3. Figure out an estimate of how much you run or walk and let them know up front.  Also let them know about you goals so they can get you a shoe that will grow with you.
  4. Make sure they measure your feet and buy at least one size bigger than that.  My toes always turned black after long runs or a marathon.  I even bought shoes that were one size bigger.  I found that my feet grow 2 sizes over a 5 hour period of running.  Account for this. 
  5. Ask about their return policy.  Where I buy my shoes, if you don’t like them you can bring them back anytime and they will give you a pair that works.  Make sure you let them know exactly what did not work so you save yourself the hassle of another return.
  6. Break them in slowly.  This is more of a function of breaking your feet in slowly, but just use them a little bit at a time for the first week.
  7. Don’t use them for more the 500 miles or 6 months.  Shoes break down and they will not support you as intended if you use them when they are wore out.  Some shoes (softer ones like mine) may only last 300 miles.

Here are a couple of links to more expert advice on how to fit and purchase running/walking shoes.

About.com’s how-to buy running shoes

Informative article discussing pronation, fit, and how-to

About.com’s how-to buy the best walking shoes for you

11 Responses to “How to buy the right running/walking shoes for your feet”

  1. January 22, 2009 at 4:31 am

    The part I hate is that you have to replace them every 6 months. I don’t always have the money to do that, so I wear them too long. Thanks for the advice though cause my trainer wants me to get new shoes soon, so I will remember all this. Thanks again for all you do.

    • 2 run4change
      January 22, 2009 at 5:31 am

      Hey no problem at all. I don’t like to have to buy them either. I was actueally bying them every 6 weeks for a while there. No more though, things are going to balance out in that area. I am looking forward to it. Keep up the good work.

  2. January 22, 2009 at 4:45 am

    Very good post. I too had to find out the hard way that the right shoes make all the difference. For me it was shin splints. I highly recommend everyone running, or walking like me, head to a quality running shoe store and get a good pair of shoes.

    • 4 run4change
      January 22, 2009 at 5:32 am

      Yes, definitely for walkers too. Walking and running are much more pleasant with the correct fit for shoes. THanks for your contribution South Beach

  3. January 22, 2009 at 7:23 am

    I can say I honestly was against the ‘running store’ shoes at first. I thought how can they tell me what shoe I need by watching me. Boy did I learn my lesson. Last year I use to go buy the cheapest pair I could find. I noticed though I was changing my shoes at least every other month. By the time I added up what I had spent on 5 pairs of shoes, I could have bought the one good quality pair! I learned my lesson for sure! Not only that but since I am nursing an injury right now, I know that if you don’t want to have the medical bills coming in because of a wrong shoe, you will spend a little more and get the correct ones.

    • 6 run4change
      January 22, 2009 at 7:47 am

      Great point. i never thought about it, but it could save you money down the road I guess. Thanks for that little special tip. Awesome

  4. 7 sarahlovesfood
    January 22, 2009 at 8:45 am

    What an appropriate post!! This has been on my mind for the last few days. I think I’m gunna make a trip to that running store this weekend. Thanks for all the great info, Jason!

  5. 9 The not-so skinny chick
    January 22, 2009 at 2:00 pm

    AMEN! I did this just last week. I went back to the same store I visited before, because I knew they would watch me walk/run to judge my needs. I told them the problem I had with other shoes, ie: rubbing at the heel, hot spots on the instep and they were able to recommend the perfect shoe. I forgot to bring in my old shoes, but a good store like this one will usually keep a customer card on file. They were able to see the last pair I bought and go from there. Great post!

    • 10 run4change
      January 22, 2009 at 2:02 pm

      Thanks for the input. I am pretty sure that the post speaks the truth. These stores that are specialized really do help us get into the pair that we need. Good job. My store keeps it on file too. I can never remember the name of my shoes. 🙂

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