How to find the right Running Shoes

Find the right running shoes with these 8 steps

Buying running shoes is the most important thing you can do before you start running or training for that next 5k, 10k, half marathon, or marathon. Finding the right pair of shoes will allow you to run better, pain-free, and hopefully faster!

Below are a few steps that I have followed since day one (over 10 years ago) of my long distance running adventure. Finding the right pair of shoes is the goal of the steps listed below.

1. Relax, have fun, and be patient

Starting to run is an exciting ting time in your life. Getting a pair of running shoes is the best investment you can make when starting to run. Think of running shoes like car tires. You wouldn’t want to get the wrong tires for something valuable like your car. Think of your body as the car and the shoes as the tires. The better the fit, the better the ride.

2. Complete the Wet Paper Test

Even though I suggest that you go to a running store to get professionally fitted, I always tell runners to do the wet paper test to see what kind of arch you have. This will guide your discussion with the running store and allow you to become more educated about your feet (so exciting I know).

In order to complete the wet paper test, all you need is a bucket of water and a paper trash bag. Step into the bucket and then step on to the paper trash bag.

Wet Test Steps

After following the steps above, review the three common foot types, alignment, and shoe type suggestions in the chart below. Identifying your foot type will help guide you when you go see your local running store to be professionally fitted. The cushioning shoe type would also be a neutral shoe.

Wet Test - Running Foot Types

Image courtesy of Runner’s World

3. Look at the soles of your shoes

If you have an existing pair of running shoes or shoes you wear often, make sure you take them with you when you buy new running shoes. Seeing how your foot strikes the ground will be important for the professional fitter and will help them pair you with the best shoe for your feet and body. Below is an example of what the wear of your shoes may mean. The wet test and sole wear test should result with the same pronation type.

Shoe Wear Exampe

Image courtesy of

4. Research a few different Shoe Options

Now that you have an idea of what type of shoe you would potentially fit, take a look online and see if there are any shoes that you would prefer to run in. Having ideas when you head to the store to get professionally fitted will help with the shoe fitting process. I always enjoy running more when I like the shoes and gear that I’m wearing.

Some of the best sites to few shoe options are Road Runner Sports, Amazon, Jack Rabbit, and Holabird Sports. These sites all break out the shoe options by type (Stability/Cushion, Neutral, Motion Control).

5. Head to the Running Store to get fitted

Now that you have completed the wet test, reviewed your current shoes, and researched a few options, you are ready to head to your local running store to get professionally fitted.

Below are a few tips that I would recommend before heading to your local running store.

  • Get fit in the afternoon. Head to the store later in the day so your feet are a little swollen. This will help make sure you get the right size
  • Take a pair of socks. Most stores will allow you to run in a pair of shoes before you purchase. Having your own pair of socks will provide a more genuine experience. I recommend Balega socks.
  • Wear running clothes. If you are going to run when getting fitted, it is suggested to have the same clothes you would actually run in.
  • Pay attention to feel, not look. The best looking shoes aren’t always the best for you. Make sure you pay attention to the feel of the shoe, not the look. Once you decide on a shoe, buy the color you like best!
  • You don’t always need the latest model. Just like cars, new running shoe models come out every year. For the most part, the models don’t change all that much (of course there are exceptions). If your feet feel great with the previous model, you will be able to save some money.

Please note, you do not need to be professionally fitted each time you buy a pair of shoes.

6. Buy your shoes

Now that you have found the perfect shoe, go ahead and buy the first pair at your local store! I always suggest telling people to buy their first pair of shoes at the local running store. I like the idea of supporting local businesses and it is also a way to thank them for helping you out. I would suggest asking if they can offer you a discount if the shoes are not on sale.

Now that you have your first pair of shoes, I would suggest buying your additional shoes online. Normally you can get the same shoe at a discounted price. Similar to the sites I suggested for researching shoes, you can find some great deals at Road Runner Sports, Amazon, Jack Rabbit, and Holabird Sports.

If you are going to try a different shoe than what you bought at the local store, make sure you buy a shoe in the same running shoe category. When you shop online, you should be able to filter out the shoes by type (Stability/Cushion, Neutral, Motion Control).

Please note: If your local shop will price match online stores, I would continue to shop locally.

If you are looking for discounts, contact me or check out the latest discounts available on this site.

7. Run, run, and run

Having new running shoes is an exciting time. They look new, feel great, and are just plain exciting to wear.

If you are new to running, shoes typically last between 300-400 miles. All shoes are not the same and depending on how you run, the surface you run on, and the sole type, these may need to be replaced sooner than 300 miles or after 400 miles. Make sure you pay attention to the wear of the sole as you continue running.

8. Buy a second pair

In order to maximize the life of your running shoes, I always recommend buying at least two pairs. Rotating shoes will maximize your shoe soles and allow them to dry out after each run. I highly recommend keeping track of mileage so that you know when it is time to replace your shoes! As I mentioned above, most shoes last between 300-400 miles.

What tips do you have to find the right running shoes?

If you need any suggestions or help with buying a second pair, let me know!

Please note, may earn a commission when you follow some of the links and make a purchase.

One comment

  • I’m planning on jogging every morning from now on, so I need to buy a new pair of shoes soon that are suitable for running. I appreciate your advice when you told us that it’s not necessary to go for the latest model since it’s important to make sure your feet feel great even with the previous models. I’ll be sure to bear this in mind while I shop for women’s new balance shoes next weekend.

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