13 Things to Know Before You Buy Running Shoes

A customer smiles as she receives her Fleet Feet bag.

Having the right pair of running shoes can make a big impact on your daily runs and workouts. With a pair of well-fitting shoes, you can comfortably cover more distance without worrying about your feet. But with so many options, finding the right pair can feel overwhelming.

At Fleet Feet, we’re committed to finding you the best pair of shoes for your feet. Because everyone’s feet are unique, finding the right pair will look different for everyone. Here’s everything you need to know about buying running shoes at Fleet Feet.

1. Your friend’s favorite shoes probably aren’t the ones for you

Before you buy that pair that your friend swears by, you should know it may not be a good fit for you. The best shoe for you depends on the shape of your feet and the way you move. It also matters how you plan to use the shoes. Are you walking on pavement, running on trails, racing a relay? You’ll want to choose shoes designed for that activity and surface.

The best way to find running shoes that fit you well is to get fit by an expert at your local running store. At Fleet Feet, our outfitters will help you find shoes with the proper shape and support for your needs. Then it’s up to you to decide what feels the most comfortable.

2. There is no single “best running shoe"

If there was one, that’s all we would sell. There may be a few pairs of shoes that will feel good and fit you well. We’re here to help you find the ones you like the most.

A customer walks on the pressure plate at Fleet Feet.

3. There is no charge for the Fleet Feet fit process

We don’t charge for the data and expertise our outfitters provide. Yes, the 3D scanner used in our fit id process is pretty cool, but it won’t add to the cost of buying shoes. Fleet Feet also offers a Happy Fit Price Match guarantee, so you’ll never pay more than the market price.

We do hope you’ll find the shoes you love and purchase them with us, but there’s no obligation. Your scan will be emailed to you and saved in our system to make shopping easy in the future.

4. You don’t have to be a runner to shop at a running store, and running shoes aren’t just made for running

This is one of the biggest barriers for people on the hunt for comfortable shoes, whether it’s for work, travel, hiking or general everyday wear. If you’re looking for comfortable shoes to help alleviate pain, “running shoes” might just be exactly what you need. But for many, going into a running store to find them can be intimidating.

Whether you’re an elite runner, an avid walker or you just want some comfortable shoes, we’re here to help you find the right fit. No qualifications needed. And, yes, running shoes are excellent for walking.

An outfitter views the results of a fitid scan.

5. Your feet aren’t as weird as you think they are

If you have calluses, misshapen nails, or something else you're self-conscious about, you’re in good company. We have seen it all. And we clean the scanner in between each customer if you’re worried about that!

At Fleet Feet we’re going to scan (and look at) your feet because it’s crucial for the fit process. But we’re not judging.

6. Your shoes or inserts aren’t supposed to “fix” your feet

Maybe you overpronate, you have flat feet, or a bunion that hurts sometimes. The right shoes or inserts should give you the support you need to feel more comfortable, but they aren’t supposed to correct or change the way you walk or run.

7. It’s normal to wear a larger size in a running shoe than you would in a dress shoe

When you run, your feet swell. You don’t want your toes to be squished together or touching the end of your shoe. You’ll need a bit of space between your big toe and the end of the shoe, but your heel shouldn’t move around. If your outfitter suggests a larger size, don’t panic.

Also, many of us have been wearing the wrong size shoe for most of our lives--and this extends beyond running shoes, too. So, you may truly need a bigger (and maybe even wider) shoe than you think. For running, for walking … for everything.

A woman stands on the 3D scanner at Fleet Feet.

8. All shoes from one brand aren’t the same

Running shoe brands make a wide variety of different models that fit in different ways. Some running shoes are designed for cushioned, everyday wear, while others are more responsive and lightweight. Just because you tried a shoe from one brand that didn’t work for you in the past doesn’t mean another model from that same brand won’t feel much better.

9. There is NO break in period for shoes

Your shoes should be comfortable right out of the box, and you should not have hot spots or blisters from wearing them for the first few weeks.

Take the shoes for a little jog at the store when you try them on (yes, this is encouraged). If they don’t feel good on the first run, they’re probably not the right choice.

An outfitter puts a pair of insoles into a running shoe.

10. Insoles may enhance your fit

Insoles, such as Superfeet ME3D personalized inserts, can help your running shoes fit better. Insoles are designed to stabilize your foot within the shoe and create a more comfortable fit.

Running shoes don’t have any arch support, so having an insert will help fill that gap between the top of your arch and the bottom of your shoe.

Insoles come in different shapes and sizes, so ask an outfitter which kind will work for you.

Do I Need Insoles for Running?

11. Fleet Feet Outfitters just want to help

Fleet Feet Outfitters go through an extensive training process to learn about gear, biomechanics, shoe technology, bra fitting and more. Our ultimate goal is to introduce you to all the products that will help you reach your goals. Although we might introduce you to a lot of options, it's not just to make a sale - it's because we care.

A Fleet Feet outfitter brings out a few boxes of shoes.

12. Nobody’s opinion matters as much as yours

Just to say it one more time: We’re here to give advice, but your comfort is the most important factor in choosing a shoe. The best running shoe for you is the one that feels the best on your feet, regardless of the newest advances in shoe technology.

13. We think you’ll love your shoes. But if you don’t, you’re not stuck

Fleet Feet has what we call our “Happy Fit Guarantee.” If you don’t love how it looks, feels or performs, you can bring your shoes (or any gear) back within 60 days for a refund or exchange. No big deal. Yes, EVEN if you wear your shoes outside.

Keep Reading