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How to Buy the Right Running Shoe

When choosing a running shoe, leave your inner fashionista at home. (Photo courtesy of Peter Tak)

Buying the right running shoe takes time. Finding a shoe that works with your running style and foot usually means an in-store visit to a running specialty store for expert advice.

A good running shoe store will look at your foot type, normal running distance, past or current injuries, pronation, foot length, and instep height, along with other parameters, says Lori Shannon, owner of women's running shoe store See Jane Run. And while there are several things you can ignore when shopping for a running shoe, there are still many things that matter for keeping your runs safe and injury-free. Nothing beats a personal consultation for finding the perfect fit, but we asked Lori for guidance anyone can use when looking for a running shoe. Here are more of her tips to consider.

Pay attention to fit: Every shoe (and foot) is different, but there are a few specifics that you should look for before the cashier rings up your pair. "The overall feel and fit is often overlooked but is extremely important. Some companies will insist that you are in a certain category — [like] stability, motion control, or cushioning — but those shoes may not feel good to you," Lori says. "This is an art, not a science. If you don’t like how they feel, then they are wrong for you."

One way to help ensure a good fit? Pick the right time to visit a shoe store. "If you run in the morning, get fitted in the morning," Lori says. And try to go to the store after your normal daily run. "Your feet change size during the day and how long your run, [so] if you do long runs, you should try on shoes after a long run. This will give you a better fit and help you keep your toenails."

There's no need to break them in: It's a myth — you don't need to break in your running shoes. In fact, running shoes should feel comfortable the moment you run in them, says Lori. "You should feel great on your first run," she says, although "if you are trying to get away from stability shoes and more into barefoot or minimal shoes, you will need to move slowly to build up your strength for these types of shoes. But the fit and feel should be great from day one."

Just because you don't have to break in your shoes doesn't mean you should treat yourself to a brand new pair before a big race, however. Make sure you're comfortable with your race-day shoes (as well as everything else you're wearing) so you know what to expect during long runs.

Get more tips for buying the right running shoe here.

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