How to Choose the Right Running Shoe

07/20/2014 01:48 pm ET | Updated Sep 19, 2014

Choosing the right running shoe is one of the most important decisions a runner must make. The wrong shoes can lead to injury, discomfort, or end your running career before it begins. However, choosing the right shoe will keep your feet happy, support your unique running mechanics, and make the miles fly by.

1. Foot Type and Gait Analysis

We all have unique physical attributes. The first step to finding the right pair of running shoes is to determine your individual needs. Do you have flat feet or high arches? Do you pronate or supinate? Are you a heel-striker? These are difficult questions, especially for beginners. Fortunately, there are experts available (at no cost) to analyze your specific needs and point you in the right direction. Find your local running specialty store and pay them a visit.

2. Don't Believe the Hype

Be careful not to get caught up in the marketing hype that shoe companies use to sell their products. Barefoot running, spring-loaded blades, energy return lugs, extra thin soles, extra thick soles, etc. They all claim to be innovative and new, which is why they are best to avoid. You want to go with something that has been tested and validated.

3. Comfort Over Style

Once you know the type of shoe you need, the fun begins. Try on as many shoes as you can. When you find a shoe that feels good, you'll know it right away. Your running shoes should provide plenty of wiggle room for your toes while remaining snug around your heel. Hopefully, you find a shoe that looks as good as it feels.

4. Run Before Buying

Run in your shoes before purchasing them. Most specialty stores will allow you to take a quick run in their shoes before you buy them. If you purchase online, look for companies that will allow you to return them after taking them out of the box for a run. The run test should be done at your regular running pace to determine fit and feel.