A Comprehensive Guide on How to Choose the Right Running Shoes

Running shoes hanging on wall


Finding the ideal pair of running shoes is super important for your comfort, performance, and avoiding injuries. But with so many options out there, it can be overwhelming to find the perfect fit. Don't worry, though! In this guide, we'll help you understand the most important factors to consider when selecting running shoes. Our goal is to give you the knowledge you need to make an educated decision that fits your needs and preferences perfectly.

If you are a beginner feeling overwhelmed by all the technical considerations, don't worry! Just scroll down to the beginners' list for a simplified approach.

  1. Foot Type and Gait Analysis: Understanding your foot type is the first step in finding the right running shoes. By choosing the appropriate footwear, you can significantly reduce the risk of injuries and improve your running experience.
    Determine whether you have a neutral arch, high arch, or low arch (flat feet) by visiting a specialty running store. Additionally, a gait analysis can assess how your feet pronate (roll inward) or supinate (roll outward) during running, providing insights into the level of support you may require.

  2. Cushioning and Stability: Running shoes offer different levels of cushioning and stability to accommodate various running styles and preferences. Cushioning provides shock absorption and impact protection, particularly important for longer distances, while stability features help control excessive pronation. Decide whether you prefer a softer, more cushioned ride or a firmer, more responsive feel based on your comfort and running goals.

  3. Shoe Type and Terrain: Consider the type of running you will primarily engage in—road running, trail running, or a mix of both. Road running shoes are specifically designed for running on pavement, providing a combination of lightweight design and generous cushioning to optimize your performance and comfort. Trail running shoes provide enhanced traction, durability, and protection for uneven terrains. Determine the type of running you'll be doing to ensure the shoes are suitable for the terrain.

  4. Proper Fit and Sizing: Ensuring a proper fit is paramount for running shoes. Visit a specialty running store to get your foot measured and try on multiple pairs to find the right size. Leave a thumb's width of space between your longest toe and the front of the shoe to allow for natural foot expansion during running. Check for a snug heel fit and enough room for your toes to wiggle comfortably.
    Toes, especially the big toe, are vital for running. That's why having enough space for your toes in your running shoes is important. Many shoe brands offer different types of shoe boxes, but Altra stands out with its wide toe box across all their shoes. Squeezing your foot into a tight toe box limits the role of the big toe and how your foot pushes off the ground. This can lessen the power you generate while running.

  5. Test and Break-In Period: Once you have selected a pair of running shoes, it's important to test them before committing to long runs. Take them for shorter runs to assess their comfort, support, and overall feel. Keep in mind that there might be a break-in period for certain shoes, during which they adjust to your feet and provide optimal performance.

  6. Replace at the Right Time: Running shoes have a lifespan, and it's crucial to replace them at the right time to maintain optimal support and cushioning. On average, running shoes last between 300 and 500 miles, (500-800 km) depending on factors such as body weight, running style, and terrain. Monitor the wear and tear of the midsole, outsole, and upper, and replace your shoes when they show signs of excessive deterioration.

Running Shoes for Beginners

If you're a beginner starting out with running, I understand that this list may appear daunting. However, I encourage you not to let it discourage you from running or resort to start running in your old gym shoes.

When I started running, I remember feeling lost amidst the sea of options and scientific jargon. Ultimately, after Googling back and forth, I decided to go with one of the most popular running shoes out there – the Brooks Ghost. I figured that if so many people trusted and loved them, they must be a reliable choice for me too. Plus, the price point was reasonable, which was an added bonus.
It was a perfect beginners shoe! Well cushioned, neutral and comfortable

  1. Comfort is Key: When starting your running journey, prioritize comfort above all else. Look for shoes that fit well, allowing room for your toes to move freely. A snug, but not tight, fit around the heel and midfoot is essential to prevent slippage and ensure stability. Consider trying on different brands and models to find the perfect fit for your feet.

  2. Cushioning for Impact Absorption: As a beginner, your body may need some time to adjust to the impact of running. Choose running shoes that provide ample cushioning to effectively absorb shock and minimize the impact on your joints. Cushioned shoes provide a softer landing, making your runs more comfortable and minimizing the risk of impact-related injuries.

  3. Versatile and Neutral Shoes: When starting out, it's generally recommended to choose neutral running shoes. These shoes offer a balanced level of cushioning and support, catering to a wide range of foot types. They don't impose excessive stability features or pronation control, allowing your feet to naturally adapt and develop strength over time.

  4. Visit a Specialty Running Store: Consider visiting a specialty running store where experts can assess your gait and foot biomechanics. They can offer valuable guidance and recommendations based on your individual needs. Professional advice can be particularly beneficial for beginners who are unsure about their running shoe requirements.

  5. Gradual Transition: If you've been inactive or have never worn running shoes before, it's important to transition gradually. Start with shorter runs and gradually increase your mileage as your body adjusts to the new activity. This gradual approach allows your muscles, tendons, and ligaments to adapt and minimize the risk of overuse injuries.


Choosing the right running shoes is a personalized process that requires consideration of your foot type, gait, cushioning and stability needs, terrain preferences, proper fit, and timing of replacement. By taking the time to find the perfect pair, you'll enhance your running experience, reduce the risk of injuries, and unlock your full potential on the road or trail.