10 Things You Need To Know To Help You Buy The Right Running Shoes

choosing the right running shoes

I remember seeing a guy running in a pair of All Star boots early on in my running days. “Wow, how cool that looks”, I thought to myself. And yes, he looked pretty slick. He had a sleeveless All Start vest to go with the shoes.

A couple of years down the line, I think back to that incident and think to myself: “what an idiot that guy was”.

I’ve made a number of dumb mistakes myself – like having a full meal on the morning of a marathon. Boy did I have a crappy race – literally!

There are some really dumb mistakes you can make as a runner. Some you will make because you are a novice. Others you will make as a veteran. Either way, those mistakes are made because we are ignorant.

Buying a pair of running shoes – be it your first or tenth pair – is no different. You want to avoid making stupid mistakes, especially those can cause injuries and hamper your running.

Whilst some are considered minor mistakes, others are pretty serious.

Let’s have a look at the considerations you need to make to ensure that you buying the right shoes:

1. Buy “value for money” shoes

Cheap is expensive!

By all means, go for bargain prices if you can find them. But, don’t settle for low quality running shoes simply because you want to save money.

Ultimately, the amount of money you save by buying low quality running shoes is not worth the amount of money you will spend when you get running shoes related injuries.

2. Do a little bit of running style research

I’m not suggesting that you go and write a thesis on running styles.

However, a “little bit” of research is helpful. If you’ve been running for some time, this becomes slightly easier.

If you are a novice though, the least you need to know is the shape of your foot. Establish whether you pronate (roll to the inside of your foot) supinate (roll to the outside of your foot) or remain neutral when your walk/run.

foot type

If you are not sure, the manner in which your shoes wear out, should give you a pretty good idea.

3. Looks and style are not a priority

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with swag and looking trendy when you are out on your runs. However, if it compromises functionality and comfort, can it!

You’ll be shocked to find out how many running shoes look cool and stylish and yet are completely ill-suited to your running style.

Make functionality a priority – not the looks.

4. Buy shoes in the afternoon

Sounds odd right? Trust me, it took me by surprise as well when I first heard about this little known secret.

The fact is this: your feet swell up during the course of the day.

As a result, they are at their biggest in the afternoon and that’s the best time to buy running shoes.

5. Buy at a running store

Buying your running shoes at your local hyper store that has a clothing section is ridiculous.

However, there are sports shops that I would still categorize as general simply because they are not running specific.

To get really good running shoes requires some specialist advice. The best type, can only be found at a running specific store where the salesperson will establish, among other things:

  • The shape of your feet: as already discussed, pronating, supinating and neutral running all require different types of shoes
  • The type of running you will be doing: treadmill running, road running and trail running are completely different and need different shoes
  • The amount of mileage will you be covering per week: a casual jogger running 20kms per week requires completely different shoes to an ultra-marathon athlete who covers 120kms per week
  • The size of your foot by measuring it: factors such as pregnancy and falling arches can sometimes change the size of your foot
  • Your running style: this is done by conducting a running analysis where you either run on a treadmill or outside

6. Dress appropriately

It might impress the sales lady for you to pitch during your lunch time in a tailored-suit.

Imagine though, for a second, trying to go through a running analysis in a pair of running shoes and a tailored suit. Inappropriate!

Dress up in your running gear. Be it shorts or tights, just make sure you are dressed in a manner that will help the sales person sell you the best running shoes possible.

7. Buy slightly bigger shoes

Unless you want to start hiding your feet at pool parties and braais, you can go ahead and buy perfectly fitting shoes.

It’s pretty cool telling people you’ve run a couple of marathons and ultra-marathons. But, it sucks when you have physical signs – like black toes and blisters – to go with it.

Ultimately you need to realize that your feet, especially the toexbox, need breathing space when you run. In fact, your feet swell up when you run long distances, and without the necessary breathing space, your are sure to get blisters and black toes.

8. Try out a few options

It’s quite common for the salesperson to bring out a number of pairs once they’ve figured out what type of running shoe will suit you.

It’s also easy for you to fall in love with the very first pair of shoes that you try. Be that as it may, make sure you try out all pairs.

That way, when you eventually decide to settle on one, you are doing it based on comparison and comfort versus emotions.

9. Bring your old running shoes

If you are not buying your first pair, it always helps to bring along an old pair of running shoes.

You might ask: “Why take an old pair of running shoes if I’m headed to a speciality store where I’ll be getting assistance from a knowledgeable salesperson?”

In response, I ask: “What is there to lose if you take an old pair with?”

More importantly though, the old cliché “a picture is worth a thousand words” could not be more appropriate.

Showing the salesperson a worn out pair of your old running shoes tells a story and helps the salesperson a great deal.

10. Test Run Your Preferences

If you’ve ever bought a car, it is highly unlikely that you concluded the transaction without test driving.

The dynamics with running shoes are no different. Sure enough you are paying far less.

But, you need to feel the comfort of those shoes. No matter how brilliant the salesperson may be, it’s impossible for them to feel that pair of shoes on your behalf.

It’s your responsibility to hop into those shoes and test run them.

As simple as buying a pair of running shoes may sound, it actually isn’t. There are technicalities you need to be aware of for you to be able to buy the right shoes and enjoy your running.

From the above it’s also quite clear that buying a pair of running shoes is not an in and out dash.

If you are anything like me, you want to make a purchase and be out of the store in all of 10 minutes. With running shoes though, I’d urge you to take a more patient and dedicated approach.

Running is a fantastic hobby. Sadly, I’ve seen many an athlete quit the hobby due to injuries, many of which are related to running in the wrong shoes.

I really hope after you’ve read this article, you wont become a victim.


  1. Print this 1o point checklist or bookmark page
  2. Download the Free Training Material (After all we buy the shoes so we can train right?)

God Bless!

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