First, you need to outfit your feet with running shoes. These should not be just any running shoes; they should be running shoes that meet your particular biomechanical needs. Take advantage of the fact that running shoes are designed to minimize injury and maximize form and function.
There are three factors to consider in determining the best type of shoe for a particular runner. The first involves what foot type the runner has (high arch, flat foot, or normal arch). It's also important to analyze the runner's footstrike (heel striker, forefoot striker, or midfoot striker) and stride pattern (pronator, supinator, or neutral).
Buying the Right Shoes
To be sure that all of these considerations are met when buying your shoes, you should purchase them at a specialty running store rather than at a wholesale sporting goods store or department store or buying them online. Specialty running stores are places that cater to the needs of runners.
Often owned by runners themselves, these stores employ knowledgeable staff who understand shoe construction and are familiar with the latest models and brands on the market. In short, the salespeople of specialty running stores are experts in matching your particular foot type and stride pattern to the specific shoe that will best meet your biomechanical needs.
Is there a “best” time of the day to try on running shoes?
To get the best and most comfortable fit for your feet, shop later in the day when your feet have swelled to their maximum size. It is also important to remember that there may be several models of running shoes among various brand names (such as Nike, Saucony, New Balance, Brooks, ASICS, Adidas, etc.) that will meet your biomechanical needs. In other words, don't assume that only one brand will work for you.
When being fit for running shoes, try them on with the style of sock (or one of similar thickness) that you will wear when running. When standing in the shoes, you should have a distance equal to the width of your thumb between your longest toe and the end of the shoe. Ill-fitting shoes without enough room between your longest toe and the front of the toebox can lead to black toenails or toenails that fall off. Additionally, your heels should not slip out of the back of the shoes when you walk or run in them.
Since you will be doing more than just standing in your running shoes, you will want to run around in them before making your purchase. Fortunately, it is becoming more common for specialty running stores to have treadmills on site, which make it convenient to test out shoes you are considering purchasing.
For stores without treadmills, run around inside if space permits, getting off the carpet and onto a hard surface. However, don't run outside with them unless you've asked permission first. If the store won't let you try them out, make sure it has a good return policy. Otherwise, shop at another store.
Base your decision to purchase new running shoes on the number of miles your old pair has on them, not by observing how much tread remains on the outer sole. The midsole of most running shoes compresses and breaks down between 350 and 500 miles, which greatly reduces the shoe's shock-absorption properties.
Types of Running Shoes
Most beginners, as well as people of average to heavy weight, need shoes that provide support, cushioning, and shock absorption. The lighter training shoes (lighter in weight than most running shoes, that is) are designed for experienced runners for fast-paced workouts and races. Some lighter-weight runners can also use these shoes. Because these shoes weigh less than most running shoes, they can help shave a few seconds off one's pace. But due to their lighter weight, they don't offer quite the same degree of protection as a traditional training shoe.
Racing flats are similar to lightweight trainers but are even lighter in weight and thus offer less support or protection. Only the advanced competitor should use them for fast-paced, short-distance training sessions and for shorter races.
When selecting a shoe, remember also that shoe companies work hard to get your attention. Their designs and colors are meant to attract you so that you will buy their shoes. But resist buying a particular style of running shoe because you want to make a fashion statement. You will do yourself a big favor if you think about function over fashion.