If you go into any running specialty shop, you'll see a wall lined with dozens of pairs of shoes in bright, eye-catching colors. It's not easy to find the perfect pair of shoes when there are so many options. To further complicate matters, not every pair of shoes will work for you. Your chosen footwear must accommodate your entire foot and feel natural during your typical running stride.

We all love the convenience of online shopping, but there is always some measure of risk when you can't try before you buy. Fortunately, many stores allow you to try on shoes before actually buying them, so you can simulate the in-store experience and go for a run. (Make sure you read the return policy carefully, and always keep the box in case you need to send them back or exchange sizes.) )

You can count on our assistance whether you prefer to shop online or in person. Learn about the parts of a shoe, avoid making these common mistakes, and check out our picks for the best shoes in your preferred category right now by reading on!

  • shoe with newspaper to dryHow to Get an Extra 100 Miles Out of Your ShoesWays to Extend the Life of Your Shoes by One Hundred Miles

Every component of a running shoe is tailored to a certain aspect of the foot. If even a minor change is made, your experience may change. We've outlined the main features of a running shoe so you can pick out the right one for your foot and avoid injuries. (Here is a more comprehensive look at a runner's shoe, if you're interested.) )

altra superior 5

To the Lakota Gambill

The "upper" of your running shoe is everything that covers the foot and is attached to the shoe. Shoe companies used to construct their uppers by sewing or gluing multiple layers of fabric or mesh. Knitting and 3D printing are now commonly used to make seamless, one-piece fits that stretch and support in all the right places. It shouldn't bunch, bind, or chafe anywhere it comes into contact.

The wrap at the top of the shoe opening known as the ankle collar secures the heel. When it comes to supporting the ankle, some shoes rely on cushy padding, while others are more structural. Observe if your heels slip, how the padding feels against your ankle bones, and if the curved back aggravates your Achilles tendon.

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A Gambill, Lakota

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Gambill, Lakota

An internal, semi-rigid cup called a heel counter provides cushioning and stability for your heel. While some shoes have an external heel wrap for the same purpose, others remove the heel counter altogether to maximize mobility. While studies show that heel counters do not aid in motion control, they do help to keep the heel in place during landings. (Heel counters are a feature of both neutral and stability shoes. Find a heel that doesn't restrict your ankle motion.

asics metaride

Gambill, Lakota

adidas ultraboost pb

The Gambill Family, Lakota

The instep, or arch of the foot, is where the shoe's saddle provides extra support. The shoe is held firmly on the foot by the combination of the saddle and the laces. Overlays, eyelets, and lacing systems of varying types have been developed by designers to ensure a snug fit for any foot. Look for a shoe that snugly holds your foot without slipping while still allowing the arch to do its natural doming as you walk or run.

saucony speed endorphin

Gambill, Lakota

The upper, from the front of the eyelets to the end of the shoe, is known as the toebox. In the case of trail shoes, a reinforced toe bumper is typically placed there to keep the fabric away from the toes and prevent stubbing. Find a shoe with a roomy toe box that won't get in the way of your toes, so your forefoot can splay out in all directions. Your toes shouldn't be squished or rubbed in any way, not even the pinky toe. Each toe should be free to move around in the shoe without any discomfort.

saucony xodus iso

Raab, Trevor

altra olympus 4

Gambill, Lakota

Keep Your Running Surface in Mind

The outsole is the part of the shoe that actually makes contact with the ground as you run. Oftentimes, it is constructed from a number of different rubber or foam compounds that are strategically placed to improve wear life, bounce, and flexibility. Traction and durability without the added weight and stiffness, and a footprint shape that is anatomically similar to yours but still provides the support you need.

mizuno waverider waveknit 24

Gambill, Lakota

Type of Midsole

Many shoes have flex grooves under the ball of the foot to allow the shoe to flex in the same way your foot does. Toe spring (the act of turning the toe upward) and rocker (the pattern created by cutting away the midsole to create an arch) both help the foot roll smoothly and efficiently as it moves forward in the stride. Modifying the flex's location or angle can affect the mechanics and feel, as well as the optimal flex for your stride as you speed up and slow down. Midsoles with a rocker profile are typically designed with stronger toe springs to encourage a rapid forward roll during the gait cycle. Find a pair of shoes that flexes and rolls the way your foot naturally wants to move at your intended pace of use.

Brooks Ghost 12

Raab, Trevor

The midsole is a layer of foam between the outsole and the upper that serves to absorb shock and promote natural foot motion. It's safe to assume that runners of all abilities have different tastes. Pick a midsole thickness and material that feels great at running speeds, whether that's soft, medium, or firm.

Support for Your Feet

If you strike your foot down on your heel, the midsole should be padded to absorb some of the energy. Some shoes have a padded "crash pad" on the outside of the foot or a rounded outer heel to soften the impact of landing. Because your own body acts as a shock absorber for your joints, and because you tend to land harder when wearing shoes with extra padding in the heel, it's largely a matter of personal preference whether or not your shoes have extra padding in the heel. Ideally, you'd find a happy medium between plushness, firmness, and connection to the ground. Take note of how the shoe performs during test runs, paying special attention to whether or not it rolls into the stride naturally and touches down where you expect it to.

hoka one one rincon 3

Gambill, Lakota

Cushioning in the forefoot serves to absorb shock during loading and push off, when the foot is subjected to the most force of the stride. Forefoot shoe cushioning safeguards foot structures, while body mechanics largely provide cushioning for everything above the ankle. New "energy-return" materials and designs have the potential to shield your foot from harm while also propelling it forward. Focus on the responsiveness of the shoe, seeking a compromise between a soft landing and a solid push off.

Inverted Heel Stride

Drop refers to how much your heel is lower than your forefoot when you're wearing the shoe. To what extent falls and the resulting injuries are important, specialists can't agree (recall Vibrams). ), but acknowledge that a change in drop can cause a shift in your stride because of the different ways in which your foot and leg are subjected to the effects of gravity. Choose footwear that supports your foot from touchdown to toe-off and alleviates strain in any problem areas. Shoes with a zero-drop, like those made by Altra, have a flat sole from heel to toe.

  • best altra running shoesThe Best Altra Running ShoesHigh-Quality Altra Running Shoes

Medial posts, dual-density foams, varus wedges, guide rails, and wider shoe geometries are just some of the technologies used by shoe designers to prevent overpronation, or inward rolling of the foot. While research suggests that most people don't need pronation support, stability and control devices do help some runners stick to their preferred gait. Your footwear should provide stability in the form of support, not excessive correction. More of these stabilizing features may be what you need in a shoe if you overpronate.

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This is Trevor Raab.

brooks adrenaline gts 20

Raab, Trevor

Get Some New Insoles!

The sockliner, or insole, is the removable foam pad inside the shoe that conforms to the shape of your foot and provides comfort. In conjunction with the shoe's geometry, it's responsible for most of the sensation of ease felt upon first stepping into a pair of shoes. Consider how the shoe feels while running, where softer is not always better and the foot works dynamically to provide its own support and cushioning. Make sure the orthotic you wear doesn't interfere with the fit of your shoes.

How to Buy Shoes Correctly

Employees at running specialty stores frequently witness customers making the same mistakes when shopping for shoes. But now you don't have to worry about that thanks to the guidance of five successful business owners and managers.

  • green, footwear, hand, shoe, turquoise,5 Easy Hacks to Customize and Perfect Your ShoesQuick and Easy Ways to Make Your Shoes Look and Feel Better

Purchase error No. 1: Being superficial "We try to get all of our clients to prioritize comfort, ease of movement, and practicality over trends." Priority number one should be ensuring that the shoe is a good fit for your feet. It doesn't matter how great the shoe looks if it doesn't do its job. Michael Zabrodski of the Philadelphia Runner

Second Error: Not Bargaining When it comes time to pay, make sure you inquire about running club member discounts. The average discount at a specialty store is around 10%, and our local track club receives a 10% discount. Your membership at the track will be worth every penny of its $20 price tag if you spend just $10 on two new pairs of shoes. Tim Rhodes, Run For Your Life (NC: Charlotte),

Buying too-small shoes is mistake #3. "Tight-fitting shoes cause blisters and black toenails and other foot problems." Since women tend to be more self-conscious about the size of their feet, they tend to wear shoes that are a snugger fit. To avoid cramping your toes, the forefoot area of your shoes should have about half an inch of wiggle room, as in "Play the piano with your toes." "-- Mike Johnson, Road Runner Sports (San Diego, CA)

Buying at the wrong time of day is mistake number four. People often say, "This is the shoe I need" first thing in the morning. One day later, they'll say, "I wore them at 5 p. m not to mention they shrank in the wash "The swelling in your feet will begin in the morning and last until about 4 in the afternoon. m You should always buy shoes in the evening because that's as big as they'll get. Running Room (Minneapolis, Minnesota) co-owner Tish Borgen

Fifthly, failing to account for body size differences That an 8 in Nike will be the same as an 8 in New Balance is a common misconception. However, sizes vary because of the various lasts (foot shapes), upper shapes, and construction methods used to make shoes. Always take your feet measurements and try on shoes to ensure a proper fit. John "Johnny" Halberstadt is a co-founder of the Boulder Running Company in Boulder, Colorado.

Here are a few last pieces of advice:

  • Avoid big-box and department stores in favor of a running specialty store. After analyzing your stride, the sales associate will present you with a few shoe options they think would work for you. They'll let you try out all of your options before settling on the best one for you.
  • Obtain a foot measurement. You may believe you know your size, but feet swell and contract over time, and the fit from one model to the next can vary greatly.
  • Bring your current footwear, socks, and inserts with you to the store. To better evaluate a new pair of shoes, you can draw on your own personal knowledge and experience.
  • Depending on the make and model, shoes need to be replaced every 300-500 miles. Make a note in your training log of when they begin to feel worn and the date you purchased them.

Suggestions from Us

So, you've read up on what to look for in a pair of running shoes, and now what's holding you back from going out and getting a pair? Here at Runner's World, we review hundreds of pairs of shoes every year, so we've compiled a list of the best shoes for every type of runner and every preference. We have the perfect pair of shoes for you below, whether you're looking for maximum cushioning or the bare minimum.

The Finest Athletic Shoes

Here are some of our favorite pairs of shoes from recent buying guides, as chosen by our editors. Based on runner surveys and RW Shoe Lab evaluations, we settled on the following top models. (Here are some more of our favorite running footwear options for any terrain. )

The Endorphin Speed 2 from Saucony.

Endorphin Speed 2

New Endorphin Speed 2 from Saucony

Enjoy 38% Off Now

Brooks Road Trace


To the Brooks Trace

At this time, you can save 20%

Highest Quality Padded Shoes

Our lab tests and customer feedback show that the shoes presented here are the most comfortable of any category. (Invest in some softer-soled running shoes.) )

Nike Invincible Flyknit ZoomX Invisible Racer

ZoomX Invincible Run Flyknit

The Nike ZoomX Invincible Run Flyknit

Concerning the Cloud-Based Monster


Regarding the Cloud-Based Monster

Favorable Footwear for Traveling

These road and trail shoes were the lightest we tested, according to our lab's data charts. Our wear-testers praised these options, saying that they made running long distances feel easy and that they appreciated how light they were. (Shop for some lighter-weight sneakers to run in. )

In the Third Hoka Rincon

Rincon 3

Third Hoka Rincon

The New Balance Fuel Cell Rebel v2

FuelCell Rebel v2

The FuelCell Rebel v2 from New Balance

At This Price, a 31% Savings

The Top-Rated Stability Footwear

You get the impression that stability shoes are bracing your foot and protecting it from unnecessary motion that could lead to harm when you wear them. These are tried-and-true options for achieving a sense of safety. (Shop around for some more stable running shoes) )

An Adrenaline GTS 22 from Brooks

Adrenaline GTS 22

Twenty-two inch Brooks Adrenaline GTS

Sneakers with New Balance's Fresh Foam X 860v12 Technology

Fresh Foam X 860v12

Shoes: New Balance 860v12 Fresh Foam

Enjoy a Discount of 41%

Top-Rated Hiking Shoes

Off-roading requires footwear with superior grip and durability. These shoes have been put through their paces on our personal trails and have proven to be reliable. (Here are a few more of our top picks for trail footwear. )

A Pair of Salomon Ultra Glide Skis

Ultra Glide

Skis with a Salomon Ultra Glide

One Sixth of an Altra Lone Peak

Lone Peak 6

One Sixth of an Altra Lone Peak

The work of Amy Gorin and Jennifer Van Allen was also cited for its supplementary reporting.

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