Perhaps the most important tool in the runner’s tool box, the right shoe — or shoes — goes a long way to helping you run comfortably. But finding or choosing that shoe can be an intimidating task, and often we don’t even know where to start. So we asked Saucony's Tyler Richard to share a few tips, and some of the right questions to ask, to send you confidently out on the hunt for a new pair of shoes.
Start with finding your closest Run Specialty store. You can use the Store Locator at saucony.ca to find the store closest to where you live. Can't make it to a store? No problem! Skip on down to our Online Shopping tips.
On the way to the store, grab your current running shoes and bring them with you. Or, if you’re new to running, bring your current athletic shoe or those in which you perform the most activity — even if that’s just walking. This way, your run store employee will be able to look at that shoe and understand some of the wear patterns unique to you and help guide you.
Once at the store, be sure to communicate your “story” to the staff member. Let them know your running history, running goals, any aches or pains you have when you’re active, and any injuries you have had or currently have. If you know a bit of what you like in your shoe, make sure to explain those preferences to the staff member as well. This will start them on a path to understanding what might work for you.
When trying on a shoe, make your decisions based on “Fit and Feel”. Of course, fit and feel is very individually based, but there are some general guidelines one should keep in mind.
When fitting into a running shoe, do it standing up. You’ll want to measure a half- to the full-width of your thumb between the tip of your longest toe to the end of the shoe. Your toes should not feel squished on the sides — allow space for your toes to wiggle freely. Moving up, the goal is to have your midfoot secure, but not restricted from movement. You should not feel constricted by the laces and mid-shoe wrap around your foot.
When we talk about “feel,” we are referring to the sensation under your foot. Shoes can feel softer, firmer, bouncier, stiffer, etc. Luckily, your body often will tell you what you like. Find the feel under your foot that feels right, and don’t over think it. Just go with your feel.
Some questions to ask at the run store:
- Why does shoe “x” feel like ____ to me?
- What are the differences between the shoes I am trying?
- Why did you suggest these styles of shoes for me?
- I like this, but what other style options would work for me?
Now that you have found two or three styles that feel pretty good, move around in the shoe and see how that shoe moves with you. If you can, give a little run in the shoe — especially if the store has a treadmill. If your shoes are for walking, walk around in the store. Try to mimic the type of activity that you will be using the shoe for. Trust what you’re feeling and again, don’t over think it.
While the in-store experience is ideal, it’s not always possible. If you can only purchase your shoes online (say, at saucony.ca!) there are a few steps you can take to narrow down what shoe is right for you.
To find your size, go up a half- to a full-size from a normal dress shoe. Alternatively, measure the length of your foot in centimeters and use a conversion tool on the internet to figure out your size — just remember you might need a small amount of room beyond the length of your foot.
Picking the right category of shoe can be tough at home for a first-timer. Two considerations can help you here:
- What distances do you usually run?
- What do you feel when you run?
The longer distances you run, the more cushioning will benefit you. Shoes with more cushioning often have a higher price point than shoes with lightweight cushioning. For example, the Saucony Triumph ISO 4 is highly cushioned with plush softness, while the Kinvara 9 provides snappy quickness with lightweight cushioning.
If you find you get sore arches or soreness on the inside of your knee when you run, then a “stability” shoe might a good choice for you. The Guide ISO and Hurricane ISO4 can be great places to start in this category. If you feel pretty healthy and just want cushioning, then choose a “neutral” shoe.
Some terms to be familiar with on Saucony.ca are EVERUN, ISOFIT and Offset:
- EVERUN is Saucony’s premium cushioning material, providing the best energy return and durability in the business.
- ISOFIT is Saucony’s own fit system that adapts to the most foot shapes and moves with your foot when you run.
- At Saucony, Offset mainly comes in 4 mm and 8 mm. This is the “ramp” that your foot sits on and measures the difference in height between your toe and heel. A lower number means your foot lands flatter and promotes a midfoot strike, while a higher number eases the transition to your forefoot when your heel lands first.
After purchasing your shoes, take them home and put them on inside. Wearing the shoes for a little while should let the meshes expand with your foot and allow you to notice if any spots are uncomfortable.
Your shoe should be ready to run right out of the box. Often, we hear talk about a “break-in phase” and that can mean different things to different people. Some people like to wear their shoe for some short runs before ever taking them on a long run, but then there are some who can wear a new shoe on a long run right away — and these are just personal preferences. You should not have to break-in a shoe to make it feel comfy on your foot. It should be comfortable in store (that’s why you chose it!) and feel more like home with every wear.
Ultimately, choosing a new running shoe is a process as unique to each individual as body type, performance and goals. While there are no standard blanket answers to cover everybody, listening to your body and trusting what feels good are always good practices. As you become a stronger runner, and with each new pair, you’ll know best what you need, and you’ll find that perfect shoe — as loyal as an old friend.