Whether you’re running a marathon, running for fitness, for fun, or all of the above… at some point, you’ll need to buy new running shoes. Not that this is any news, but one size or one brand does not fit all; and what works for your running buddy/Olympic athlete/TikTok dancer/influencer/Redditor, etc., may not necessarily be the best for you.
Yes, the internet is full of options, and you may strike gold. But there’s a really real resource in your local specialty running shop. We love us some local running stores, and Charlotte has some great ones. Wherever you live probably does, too. Check them out! We asked our friends at Charlotte Running Company, Run For Your Life, and the Ultra Running Company for tips to help you get your next new pair of running shoes.
Trust the People and the Process
“Trust the folks at your local running specialty stores,” says Nathan Lehman at The Ultra Running Company. “They really know what they’re doing and are absolutely passionate about getting you in the shoe that’s right for you.”
“Specialty running shop associates and their owners are invested in your local running community and know all about the local running, walking, and racing scene,” says Charlotte Running Company’s, Donny Forsyth. “They really are your best resources for any and all things running and walking, including shoes.”
Size is Just a Number
“Some extra space around the toes is a good thing for foot health, so embrace that space,” says Run For Your Life’s Chris Elkins. “Circulation is great… numbness and sore toenails, well, that’s not so great.”
Be open to trying different brands, styles, and sizes. Running shoes change and update every year, so your favorite shoe from 5 years ago might not be the same one today. And the shoe that was too wide back in the day, might be the perfect fit now.
Consider Where and How You’ll Run
Think you’d like to tackle some trails? Maybe you’re ready to take on your first 5k or even a marathon – good for you, by the way. That’s helpful information for the folks at your running specialty shop, too. Let them know!
While you’re at it, bring your old or current running shoes with you. They can be a helpful assessment tool. Same for your socks. You’ll want to bring the same kind you run in to use as you test and try out new shoes.
Don’t Believe the Hype
Well, not all of it, at least. Sometimes there really are dramatic and incredible advances in footwear. Sometimes it’s just marketing. Depending on how and where you run, the latest “shoe tech” may be of no benefit to you. Get the fit dialed in first, then you’ll probably have some options in brand, color, and such.
“And if it’s been a long time since you’ve been properly fit for running shoes, don’t get hung up on size or the brand your friends run in,” adds Lehman.
Share Your Pain Points, Quite Literally
Let the folks at your specialty running store know if you’re experiencing pain while you run or after you run; if you’re currently injured or recovering from an injury; or if you’re harboring any other aches and pains. Adding this information to their visual assessment of your running form can help them make even better running shoe recommendations.
And if your pain point happens to be in your wallet, let them know that, too. The most expensive running shoe in the store isn’t necessarily the best one for you and your running.
No Need to Rush
At most specialty running shops, you don’t have to make an appointment. If this is a new experience for you, you can always call or message ahead of time to find out when they are typically not at their busiest, and ask how long the fitting process takes and what it entails. Again, it’s a process, in the best kind of way.
“Be prepared to walk or run on a treadmill so we can record or view you and share that analysis with you,” says Forsyth. “Expect to have several options for you to try, until you find a pair that you love based on fit, feel and cost.”
Afterward, take time to get used to your new shoes.
“Most foot pain with new shoes comes from doing too much, too soon,” adds Eklins. “Break in new shoes gradually on short walks, easy runs, or on your non-running days, then ease them into your regular workouts.”
Expect a good pair of running shoes to last anywhere between 300 miles or so. But, like the tire companies say, “your mileage may vary.” You’ll get more life from your running shoes if you use them exclusively for running. Save your old pairs for kicking around, cutting grass, and doing errands. Or, you can always donate them to a charitable organization. Most specialty running shops take those donations, too.