How To Buy Running Shoes – Women's Running

How To Buy Running Shoes

Author: Women's Running Magazine

Read Time:   |  August 22, 2017

How To Buy Running Shoes

You walk into a running shop and make your way to the wall of women’s shoes. Instant sensory overload: there are road shoes, trail shoes, fell shoes, barefoot shoes, winter shoes, spikes, shoes for overpronating, shoes for underpronating – and not many of them are cheap. Unsurprisingly, most beginners don’t know where to start, but fear not – once you understand the different categories of running shoe, it’s simple. Here’s how to buy your first pair of running shoes – and get it right.

Ask the experts

Running shoes are available in many shopping outlets, but you should always go to a specialist running store. Even if this means having to travel some distance, it’s worth it.

“Every human is put together slightly differently so we all run in our own unique way,” says Holly King, a chartered physiotherapist who specializes in running at Ocean Physio and Rehab in Devon ( “Footwear is an extension of our contact with the ground, so if we wear the wrong thing it can lead to injury and inefficient technique. It is therefore important to understand your individual movement and thus what type of trainer is best suited to you by visiting a specialist running shop.”

How To Buy Running Shoes

The big questions

There are five things staff in every decent running shop will do when you go to buy trainers. If they don’t, run out the door. Firstly, they will ask you lots of questions about your running (or what kind of running you plan to do, if you’re a complete beginner).

They will then ask you to run – either up and down the pavement outside or on a treadmill. Some shops will video this so you can look at your gait afterwards. Opinion is divided on the best gait-analysis platform: some professionals argue that a treadmill alters the way we run because it’s moving and that in-store treadmills that only show customers running from behind don’t give a complete gait picture. It’s generally agreed that pavements are ideal.

It’s useful to be assertive; ask your shop assistant some questions about her or his experience and training. The more experienced they are, the better they will be at finding the right shoes for you.

A good running shop assistant will also ask to look at your feet. The arch of your foot determines what kind of shoe you need. At the ASICS store in central London, a 3D scan of your foot is taken which links to a database that then suggests the best shoes for your foot shape. Long gone are the days when people just flung on any pair of plimsolls!

Try before you buy

The next thing a good running shop will do is present you with lots of shoes to try on. If they come at you with one pair and look annoyed if you want to try more, go elsewhere. Be prepared to spend up to an hour in there, making sure you’ve got the right pair. You should be able to wiggle your toes and they shouldn’t be pressed against the end of the shoe. The upper and the sides should fit snugly around your foot, without being constricting.

The fifth and final barometer of a running shop’s worth is whether or not the staff encourage you to run in the shoes: “You should always go for a run outside on the pavement to see if the trainers are comfortable,” says King. Running on a firmer surface gives you a better appreciation of their qualities or faults.

Written by Hazel Sillver for Women’s Running magazine (UK)

Women's Running Magazine

NMA’s 2020 Lifestyle Magazine of the Year, Women’s Running provides expert advice on gear and training, motivation from your favourite runners and the latest running news.

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