How to Choose Running Shoes
by Dr. Dave

How to choose running shoes can be very confusing since there are literally hundreds of different brands and styles out there.  Shoe companies bring out new models and updates every year. 

There are almost too many choices, but don't worry. Dive right in and start trying on shoes. You'll find your perfect shoe. Then you'll be able find it again and again as new shoes are developed . . .

What We're Wearing Right Now

This year, Wendy is sticking with the Asics Gel Nimbus 15. She usually bought a pretty inexpensive asics shoe, but last year her feet starting hurting on the treadmill. So she upgraded and got rid of the pain. This shoe has awesome support.

She also likes the color of this shoe a lot better. Believe it or not, that makes a difference in how we feel about our exercise.



My newest running shoe, which I love, is an Adidas. It's the Adizero Boston Boost.

It's very light, has just the right amount of support, and most importantly, doesn't give me blisters on long runs.



Lightweight, Cushion, or Stability?

I have found several tricks to find the right shoe for me. Generally shoes come in several types. 

Stability shoes help keep the foot aligned while running – but they are heavier and more structured. These are good for any running. If you have foot issues (arch, flat feet, plantar fasciitis, etc.), this shoe will stabilize your foot better. Also, choose this shoe to give you extra support while you're losing weight. Once you're down to a healthy bmi weight range, try a lightweight shoe.

Cushion shoes have more padding so to speak but the running surface feels further away. If you have knee or hip issues, this shoe will "cushion" your running and protect those areas.

Lightweight or minimalist shoes do not have much supporting structure and can weight just ounces. These are good for long-distance running and fast running. These shoes are good for "efficient" runners with very little injuries. This generally would not be the pick for your first running shoe.

There are also great shoes made for trail running which have a lot more grip for those who love going off road.

My first running shoes were definitely more structured – very much a stability shoe.  They were fine for me to start running, but as I progressed, I had terrible blistering after my first 15 k race.  They were too tight for my foot in a long race.  I then bought a lightweight shoe with very little structure in the upper construction .  What a difference for me.  No blisters and my feet felt much better.  I have since purchased mostly lightweight and minimalist shoes.  However, I just bought my first cushioned shoe to give my knees a break while running on pavement. It's an ongoing process to learn how to choose running shoes.

How should it fit?

Comfortable - right away. Pretty simple really. For all the science going into good running shoes, you'll find your choice when it feels good on your foot.

Athletic shoes are made so well, there's no need to "break it in." If it doesn't feel good when you're trying it on in the store, try a different shoe. If your heel is slipping out or something hurts, move on to another
shoe or brand.

Keep looking until you find a good running shoe for you. Certain brands fit certain feet. In our family, my wife loves Asics, and our oldest son fits in Nikes. The runners of the family keep trying different brands and have good luck.

If you have wide feet, look for the shoes made in a wide width (there will always be a few) or a shoe made out of very flexible upper materials.

Where to Buy?

First, I have found that there are dedicated running shops in most good sized towns.   We have a local store that will video you on a treadmill and then analyze your gait to help determine which shoe might work.  Then, they will let you run on the treadmill right there in the store with the new shoes to give it a test run.  Very easy. 

Second, I have found my favorite online store has a super feature they're calling "SHOEDOG." It asks a series of questions in order to give you some reasonable options to choose from.  The site is roadrunnersports.com.  Great site to find the right shoe. (Wendy here - I just entered my information into SHOEDOG. The first shoe it recommended for me was Asics, my favorite brand. Pretty helpful for how to choose running shoes.)

If you're ordering online, use a site with free shipping and free returns, like zappos.com.

Lastly, make sure that you buy shoes from a store that will allow you to bring the shoes back if there is a problem.  Roadrunnersports.com allows 30-90 days to return an item for any reason - even if you've been running in them. Wow!  Most running stores will do the same.  – I have bought shoes that I thought were great only to find a problem after a few runs.  One pair of shoes that I got were great unless I ran over 8 miles – then it would cause a blister on top of my foot.  Back to the store they went for a full refund. 

These are Dr. Dave's latest and greatest running shoes. He really likes them. The upper really is a knit material. They slip on easily and are very light. (He took the shoelaces off.)

These were Dr. Dave's running shoes before the Nike Free Flyknit (above)

This is one of our son's running shoes. He runs so much that he's getting a new pair every few months. He likes to get a year-old model because they're cheaper.

How often should you buy new running shoes?

Traditionally, I have heard that you are supposed to change shoes every 400 miles and alternate shoes between runs.  I do try to change shoes every other run, but I usually run probably 800-1000 miles on a pair of shoes.

At the very least, get a new pair of running shoes once a year.

Another option is to buy a new insole for your shoe. Spenco is a great brand for insoles. If your shoe is still in good shape, but you've been using it for quite awhile, extend its life by inserting a new insole.

How to choose running shoes? It will get easier for you each year.


You'll become your own expert in How to Choose Running Shoes.

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