To put it out there, I am a shoe snob. That may sound funny for a male, but I love tennis/running shoes. I wear them every day for work and rather than buying a tie to complement a shirt, I buy shoes to go with my shorts. This is a serious perk to my job.
Decide on the type of shoe you need
So first things first, what type of shoe you are in the market for? Are you starting to run and therefore want a running shoe? Have you been running and want a road racing type shoe for your races? Or are you simply looking for something comfortable that allows you to work out and wear for 8-12 hours shifts? Only you know and can decide those things.
Set a budget
Once you’ve determined the shoe, you need to set a budget. Some people spend more than $100 dollars, while others won’t spend near that. You need to consider price doesn’t always equal quality, on both ends. Is it worth it to spend $40 dollars on a pair of shoes only to replace them in 3 months? Or is it worth it to spend $120 only to realize that they look cool, but don’t offer the support you need. Either way, pick a budget you’re comfortable with and stick to it.
Get a shoe that’s your style
The look of the shoe should be something you are drawn to. There is power in feeling good and in having confidence. I like bright colors, but if you don’t want the attention, don’t get them that bright. I can walk into a store and know if I like a style or not. You have to like what you wear or you won’t wear it enough. Remember, you can always change laces, but you can’t change the shoe itself.
Make sure it feels good
Once I see a shoe I love, I try it on. Some runners will tell you they like a shoe a half-size bigger because they constantly feel their toes smash into the toe box. I don’t have that issue and stick true to my shoe size. You should feel like the toe box gives you room to breathe and doesn’t jam your toes (no pun intended) in there. This can prevent nasty blisters in the future.
Take into consideration your running style
Your running style (heel striker, flat foot, forefoot striker, etc.) will dictate the shoe you buy. Now, let me state my opinion. Shoe companies make a ton of money targeting people who pronate (roll foot inward) or supinate (roll foot outward). I do think some techniques need certain shoes, but I do think companies will take advantage of you. If you are new to running you probably want a little more cushioning in the heel. If you are transitioning to a forefoot strike you can get minimal cushioning on the heel (minimalist shoes) or look for a zero-drop shoe. Either way, make sure the shoe suits what you are training for and trying to accomplish.
Some companies let you try out shoes and return them if they don’t work. This is an important thing you can do. I have a few shoes in my arsenal that I “settled” for. They didn’t fit me right or had a few hot spots. Don’t be afraid to return them. Make sure you get what you paid for.
It takes time to break in the shoe
Keep in mind it takes a few runs to break in shoes. I sometimes wear them around my house or go for a short run. Sometimes fabric will change over time, but beware hotspots. Also, the socks you wear play a role in how your foot feels, so play around with those as well.
What shoes do you wear? What races do you run? It’s about time for a new pair and I’d love to get some suggestions!