How to: Shop for new running shoes.

This is pretty much how my Monday felt:

I had a nice and easy gym session yesterday, which included a walk at practically 2.0 mph and a few triceps dips. I felt pretty good but as the day wore on I got more and more tired. I only worked six hours but it felt like 14. I came home after work and watched tv shows in my bed and ate the best cereal in the world. This is my favourite cereal in the entire UNIVERSE. It tastes like candy but on the box it says it has fibre and protein so you can consider it healthy 😉

I worked up the energy to get some spandex on and get to a 5 pm hot yoga class. I figured the stretching would make me feel good and yogis are always talking about how much energy they have when they do yoga so I gave it a shot. It was a pretty good class but for some of the squatting poses I thought my quads were going to fall off. It did give me a bit of energy though and it totally relaxed me too! 

Since I started working at the Running Room I think I have become a better running shoe customer myself. I think the best customers are ones that are prepared, informative, and open-minded. I have acquired a few pairs of shoes since I started working there and I use them all for different distances/workouts. New Balance and Brooks are clearly my favourite but I am always looks for a shoe to fit my foot and not necessarily based on brand. Buying new running shoes is really fun, especially when you know how to do it!

How to: Shop for new running shoes…

1. Bring your old shoes with you.

Seeing the brand you have been using, the type of shoe you are in, and the wear patterns on the soles of your shoes are super helpful when finding a new shoe. If you love the brand you are in, it is likely the store has the newer version of that shoe and you will probably like them just as much! Any issues with your old shoes will also point to corrective measures we can take with your new shoes. Are you starting to develop plantar fasciitis? Maybe look for more cushioning. Are your arches falling? Maybe try a stability shoe. 

2. Give as many details as possible.

What activities will you be doing in your shoes? Not everyone that comes into the Running Room is a runner. Whether it is running, walking, weight lifting, working on cement floors, or cross training, give as much information as possible to the salesperson who is helping you find shoes. Your weekly mileage, your injury history, and what types of things you will be doing in your shoes (hiking, running a marathon, learning to run, etc.) are all important when choosing a new pair!


The colour of your shoes DOES. NOT. MATTER. Unless you require a certain colour of shoes for work, the colour of your running shoes is the element of this process you should be least concerned with. I absolutely love that I have purple shoes but I didn’t buy them because they were purple, I bought them because they fit me well, my feet love them, and I get some great speed workouts done in them. Try on shoes for comfort and not for what they look like. Brands change their shoes every year and the one thing they always change is the colour. The next version of the shoes you love will probably have a new colour and it might be your favourite, so give the shoes a chance!

4. Don’t buy a pair because “someone told you about how great they are.”

Even if Meb wears them, they might not work for your feet. The reason most running stores have every thing from motion control shoes to neutral to minimalist is that everyone’s feet are different. Just because your best friend runs in minimalist shoes and claims to have never injured herself because of them, that doesn’t mean that buy purchasing them you will never be injured. Kara Goucher may wear one shoe but that doesn’t make it the best. Find what works for YOU!

5. Try more than one pair to find THE ones.

Even if you absolutely love the first pair you try on (and you will if I am the salesperson helping you ;), try at least one or two more for comparison. Different brands, differently weighted shoes, and different fits… try them all. I have worn a pair of shoes that feels good and then put on a different brand and found that they feel even better. If they don’t feel 110% great in the store, they won’t get better with time, find some that feel great right away!

6. Bust all of the running shoe myths. 

There is a lot of controversial evidence for minimalist running, pronation control, and heel versus mid versus forefoot strike. Take a look at the research, like Dr. Jon McGavock says, and find YOUR solutions. A few myths I hear come through Running Room… 

“But these shoes will stretch with time right?” No. The cushioning wears down and that makes the shoe feel looser but the shoes does not physically stretch. 

“My toes should be at the end.” You should have about half an inch of room at the end of your shoe. When running or walking, the forward motion pushes your toes into the ends of your shoes and if they shoe is too short you will end up with sore toes and possibly black toenails. This is especially important if you do a lot of hilly runs… downhills are toe-killers!

“I thought you said these shoes would work for me?” The salesperson can make recommendations, they can get you various sizes and brands to try out, and they can do a rough gait analysis to try and fit you into neutral or stability shoes but ultimately they can’t tell you how the shoes feel on your feet 🙂

“I should get a solid 5 years in these shoes at this price!” Running shoes are expensive, there is no doubt about it. They all tend to last between 6-8 months (or 500-800 km) ON AVERAGE and depend heavily on activity, mileage, running surface, body weight, whether you untie your laces or not, and your running biomechanics. Replace your shoes as necessary because once they wear down they can leave you severely prone to injury!

7. Do a test run.

Some running stores have treadmills that you can test your shoes out on but in many places there is nothing like that. Try out your shoes at the gym on a treadmill or on a track and see how they feel. A 3.4 minute walk around the store won’t tell you everything so try 30 minutes of your activity and see how they feel. By all means, return them if they don’t feel right!

The most important things I have found working at the Running Room when buying shoes are: if a customer says their size is between an 8 and a 9… I grab a 9. If they say they don’t like the colour… I slap them… 😉 Just kidding. If they don’t look super convinced and in love with their shoe – I grab another one! Some people like the heaviest, most inflexible, built-up shoe on the market and some people like minimalist shoes. It’s up to you, so happy shopping!

What do YOU look for when shopping for running shoes? Do you stick with the same? Order them online?

1 Comment

  1. Very informative, Kris. I do base mine on colour cause how you look is the most important thing, especially when you are my age. hahahaha.. Stop buying runners – you have University to get through! Ha

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