If the Shoe Fits: Choosing the Perfect Running Shoes for Your Feet

No two pairs of feet are exactly the same. The height of your arch, the turn of your ankle, the length of your toes - these all play a role in finding the best running shoes for your feet.

As you probably know, having the right running shoes can make a world of difference. Comfort, performance, and the distances you can go are all determined by having shoes with the right shape and support for your needs. As running experts, we're here to teach you how to find the perfect running shoes the next time you're in your local sneaker store.

Bring Your Running Socks

First and foremost, bring the socks you run in.

Whether you wear thin microfiber ankle socks or fluffy sports socks, you'll want the shoes to fit right with the socks, not just whatever socks you're wearing when you shop.

If you use insoles or foam inserts, bring them, too. 

Size Matters

First, know your shoe size, and that each sneaker brand has a slightly different sizing standard. Even a half-size too big or too small can cause pinching, blisters, or dangerous slipping. 

Learn your size within the context of your favorite running shoe brands. If trying on shoes from a new brand, try on slightly larger and slightly smaller sizes from your "standard" size to identify the brand sizing difference.

Know Your Feet

Every foot is unique. Even your two feet are probably a little different, and each foot has quirks. Knowing what makes your feet special will help you find running shoes with the right features.

  • Width
    • Shoes with a "W" in the size are extra wide
  • Toe box shape
    • How much space do your goes need?
  • Arch height
    • Based on the height of the inner curve of your foot, the insole shape can be too high or too low.
  • Arch strength 
    • How much arch support do you need? Firm or soft?
  • Ankle pronation
    • Do your ankles roll inward? If so, your shoes should counteract this.

These factors can guide your shoe shopping. Let your shoe salesperson know whether your feet are wide, have long toes, high or low arch, or if your ankles are pronated. If you have a specific condition like flat feet (fallen arches) or plantar fasciitis, be sure to mention this, as well.

Hard Insoles vs Memory Foam vs Custom Insoles

There are three types of insoles to choose from. Hard insoles are very firm, and every brand of running shoes uses a different insole mold. Hard insoles provide a lot of structural support, but not as much padding. Plus, the shape must closely match your foot or you will be uncomfortable.

Memory foam offers a lot of padding and conforms to the shape of your foot, but does not provide specific support. Many people will find a hard-insole shoe with approximately the right shape, then add a memory foam insert.

Custom insoles are prescribed by your doctor, or you can find the right fit from off-the-shelf support/gel/therapeutic insoles often sold in shoe stores. 

Reminder: Don't forget to bring your inserts shoe shopping to make sure there's room and everything works together nicely. 

Running Style & the Spring in Your Step

How much spring do you want in your running shoes? Some running shoes are designed with thick, bouncy soles that roll off the pavement almost like you're on wheels. These reduce the impact on your knees from pavement running, but they are not so great for cross-training types of exercise.

Other running shoes have thinner soles, with less rebound and more flexibility. These are ideal for terrain running and cross-training. You'll want to find the perfect balance for your style of running and general exercise habits.

Brand Reputation & Favorite Brands

Over time, you will learn which running shoe brands are better than others. But always start with the top brands that already have a high reputation and positive ratings. This isn't to say that you need designer sneakers. Air Balance and Champion might even suit you better than Nike or Adidas.

Try on different brands to see how the insoles, arch support, pronation correction, and sole shape work for you. Take a jog around the aisle. You'll soon get a feel for which brands and shoe designs are best for your feet and your preferences.

Complete Your Running Gear with FlipBelt

In addition to having the right shoes, a full set of well-designed running gear can power up your workout. FlipBelt is a flexible running belt to carry your essentials without throwing off your balance (or tossing your keys out of a pocket by accident). You can also find a form-fitting water bottle for hydration on the go, a safe travel wallet, and more to complete your full set of running-ready gear.

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