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How to Choose Running Shoes

How to Start Running

Buying new running shoes is a big decision. The best running shoes will keep you on track, injury free and looking fresh. But the wrong shoes can cause problems beyond cramping your style.

Most major brands recommend replacing your running shoes when the odometer reads between 300 to 500 miles, though shoes can break down quicker if you spend a lot of time in wet weather or on rough terrain. Worn out shoes are a common cause of those nagging running injuries, but the signs of wear aren’t always obvious from a quick glance.

In this guide, we’ll explain what to consider when you’re buying new running shoes and how to choose the best shoes for your feet.

A runner stretching while wearing the Karhu Ikoni

How to Find Running Shoes that Fit

There are many things to consider when you start researching new running shoes: How far do you run? How fast? Do you need trail running shoes? Do you overpronate? Do the shoes look good?

There are likely dozens of running shoes that will match your needs. You can narrow down the list of shoes that are right for you by following some simple steps.

  • Try ‘em on. Buying running shoes without trying them on first is like drinking the milk you found in the back of the fridge without checking the expiration date. Lacing up a pair of shoes will quickly tell you if they’re too narrow or too wide, too light or too heavy, too cushioned or too minimal.
  • Ask an expert. Fleet Feet Fit Specialists are trained to help you find the perfect running shoes. Staff members can use the fit id system to take three-dimensional scans of your feet, which will lead to more informed shoe recommendations, and they will discuss your running habits and goals to start you on the right foot.
  • Get measured. Your feet will change over time; a shoe that fit you two years ago might not work for you this year. So, get your feet measured when you go to buy new shoes.
  • Bring your old shoes. The wear patterns on your old shoes provide valuable insight into your biomechanics, which can inform decisions about what kind of shoes you need. Pro tip: Bring the insoles and socks you plan to wear while training to see if they work with the shoes you're trying on.
  • Invest in quality. Great running shoes aren’t cheap—but they're worth it. Premium materials last longer; scientific research informs important design elements; and innovative technology gives you a leg up on the competition.
A man running in Brooks running shoes

Types of Running Shoes

Whether you’re hammering miles on the sidewalks or dodging roots on the trail, there are running shoes that fit your needs.

  • Road. Road shoes help you comfortably log miles on the pavement. Soft midsoles cushion your ride, and rubber outsoles grip the ground. These are the most popular type of shoes.
  • Trail. Trail shoes will take you off-roading like your dad’s old 4x4. Built with burly lugs for traction and extra protection to shield your feet from pointy rocks, these will help keep you upright on gnarly terrain.
  • Track. Track shoes are light and sleek, perfect for your fastest pursuits. You can get spikes, which help dig into the track for more traction, or racing flats, which don't have spikes.
  • Cross country. Cross country shoes are like track spikes for the trail. With minimal material and lighter construction, these shoes will give you an edge on courses with unpredictable conditions. Like track shoes, these come with or without spikes. Unlike track spikes, they have added traction to help you claw your way through wet grass and muddy terrain.
  • Race. Your race day shoes are typically lighter and faster than your trainers. But they’re not meant to hold up for as many miles as your everyday shoes, so use them sparingly.

A word of caution: Flats and spikes are very minimal shoes and not recommended for regular training (unless you're already used to them). If you plan on running in spikes or flats, increase your wear-time and run distance gradually. And roll your calves!

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