While most running shoes feel comfortable when you’re standing in a sports store, the true test is after several miles on the trail or asphalt. You’ll quickly realize that your perfect shoe has more to do with the shape of your foot and your running style than it does with the logo stitched on the side.
Road Runners or Trail Runners?
Road running shoes are designed for pavement and occasional forays onto packed surfaces with slight irregularities (fire roads, nature trails, wood-chip paths). Light and flexible, they’re made to cushion or stabilize feet during repetitive strides on hard, even surfaces.
Trail running shoes are essentially beefed-up running shoes designed for off-road routes. They are enhanced with aggressive outsoles for solid traction and fortified to offer stability, support and underfoot protection. If you routinely encounter roots, rocks, mud, critter holes or other obstacles during runs, choose trail runners.
Tip: If you can’t find a trail shoe with the right fit for your running mechanics, it’s better to go with a road-running shoe.
Foot size: If you’re unsure of your shoe size or if one foot is larger than the other, it’s best to have your feet measured at REI or other shoe retailer with a Brannock device. (That’s the flat metal tool with sliders that measure the length, width and the toe-to-ball length of the foot.) Whenever possible, try the shoe on to see if it fits. Shoe lasts (which determines shoe sizes, described below) vary by manufacturer and even from one shoe model to another. You may need a half-size or even a full size smaller or larger than you think.
Most men wear a D-width shoe; most women wear a B-width. You don’t have to wear a shoe of your gender—the lasts are basically the same. Men: Try a women’s shoe if you have a narrow foot. Women: Try a men’s shoe if you have a larger or wider foot. If the shoe fits, wear it!
Arch shape: As you get out of the tub, shower or pool, take a look at the footprint you leave on the bathmat or cement. The shape of your footprint will indicate the type of arch you have. Your arch shape affects the way your foot moves as you run.