3 Keys to Finding Your Next Pair of Running Shoes

Photo: Sandratsky Dmitriy / Shutterstock.com

How do you know when you’ve found the right running shoes?

Although bright colors and technological features catch the eye, finding a shoe that fits your needs is crucial. Start by visiting a running specialty shop and try on several pairs. Here’s how to know which one will keep you smiling after a couple hundred miles.

Know Yourself

Do you want a softer, cushier experience or a firmer and responsive ride?

“Most runners need some level of cushioning and protection to run long distances,” says Henry Guzman, co-owner of Flatirons Running in Boulder, Colo.

The old paradigm of neutral, guidance, stability and motion control is largely outdated, but if you excessively pronate, some stability is still essential. Generally speaking, opt for a shoe that’s less supportive over one that is more controlling.

Understand a Good Fit

While it’s important to get the correct length, the width and volume of a shoe are most important.

“Step-in comfort is great, but you need to see how they feel when your foot moves in them,” says Shane O’Hara, manager of Marathon Sports in Boston.

Shoes should fit snug in the heel and mid-foot with no slippage, irritation or awkward sensations. Keep in mind that brands fit slightly differently.

Find the Right Offset

The heel-toe offset is the height difference between a shoe’s heel and forefoot. Recent studies have shown that a lower offset can improve running posture and facilitate more efficient form. But be careful about dropping too far too fast, says physical therapist and leading gait analyst Jay Dicharry.

“You might feel soreness in your Achilles tendon and lower calf muscles, and might need an adjustment period,” he says. “If a more moderate heel-toe drop (4–8mm) works for you, stick with that.”

RELATED: 2015 Running Gear Guide: Road Shoes

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