How to Choose Running Shoes for Beginners

Categorized as Guides & Tips

If you’re anything like me, then you’ve spent hours poring over the dozens of running shoe brands, models, and types. There are shoes for every person and every lifestyle, and there’s no one perfect shoe. If you want to find a shoe that’s perfect for you, here are our tips on how to choose running shoes to help you make an informed decision.

How-to-Choose-Running-Shoes

But before you get to it, here’s an outline of what you’ll be considering when choosing your running shoes.

How to Choose the Best Running Shoes

How to Choose the Best Running Shoes

New running shoes are a major investment, so it’s important to know all the details about the pair you’re buying before you commit.

Ankle Collar

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One of the steps on how to choose running shoes for beginners is to consider the ankle collar. This is important especially if it’s about knowing how to choose first running shoes!

It’s the top of the shoe opening that secures your heels and protects your ankles. Some sneakers feature stronger padding while others rely more on the shoe’s design itself.

What matters most here is: Does your heel slip? Does the padding rub against the bones on the sides of your ankles? Can you feel discomfort at the back of your Achilles tendon?

Upper

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Another part of the shoe that you need to evaluate if you want to know how to choose the best running shoes is the upper.

The upper is the part of a shoe that touches your foot. It’s known as an upper because it sits on top of the shoe’s sole (the bottom of the shoe). 

Different shoes have different uppers: boot uppers are made of leather, sneakers and high tops are made of fabric, and sandals are often made with nothing but a patch of rubber or plastic at the toe.

It’s important to focus on shoes that are soft and flexible — not ones that rub or pinch at your feet.

Saddle

A shoe saddle is a section of the instep that’s reinforced to give the shoe a more secure fit. Not all shoes have saddles, but some manufacturers create them to help shoes fit better on specific types of feet. 

Saddles are especially useful for people who suffer from bunions, plantar fasciitis, and other foot-related issues.

It needs to be snug, a perfect fit that holds your foot without slipping. It also needs to have some give so that it bends with your feet during your stride but doesn’t give enough for it to collapse underneath you while you run.

So if you’re asking how to choose first running shoes, you need to keep this tip in mind.

Heel Counter

Heel counters are nothing more than a soft, semi-rigid plastic cup layered in the heel of shoes. It’s meant to cradle and support the heel, but doesn’t provide any motion control — it simply centers the heel in the shoe. 

While some minimalist shoes opt-out of this design feature, it’s still present in many high-performance athletic shoes. 

Studies have shown that heel counters are not necessary for stability or shock absorption, but provide an anchor point for the foot during the stance phase of walking or running.

So how to choose running shoes based on the heel counter? You need to search for a heel that’s neither too high nor too low, but one that allows your ankle to move freely without hurting it.

Flex Grooves and Toe Spring

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Shoes need to bend as much as the foot does. So it makes sense that people in the design and manufacturing industries aim to mimic the shape of the arch and angle of the toe, as these parts of the foot experience a lot of stress during activity. 

However, you may have heard terms like ‘toe spring’ or ‘rocker’ when discussing shoes — what do they mean?

The flexibility of a shoe doesn’t just matter at the ball of the foot — where grooves are usually placed. It’s important to have a shoe that bends in all areas. That includes the toe. That’s why many shoes have added toe spring to allow for rolling through your stride. 

Even slight changes in bend can change how your foot moves inside the shoe, so it’s important to have a shoe that works with your stride and running style.

If you want to know how to choose running shoes because you want to get one, here’s my tip: Get a running shoe that moves with you — one that flexes to match your foot’s natural movement and rolls to always support your stride.

Toebox

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The part of a shoe that you can see when you look down at your toes. It’s usually reinforced to protect from stubbing or abrasion. 

So how to choose running shoes based on a toe box? 

You need to look for one with a toebox that is wide enough and open enough to accommodate all of the movement that your feet require, particularly in trail runners.

Midsole

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While a stylish upper is important, the midsole of a running shoe offers a key role in comfort. It creates the cushioning effect that absorbs the impact of each footfall and guides your stride as you run. 

The midsole is usually made of foam, and its thickness and material choice are essential factors in determining how cushioned your shoes will feel.

It’s important to look at the material and thickness of the mid-sole. It should provide enough structure to offer cushion, but not so much that it slows down your stride.

Outsole

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The outsole is the material that makes contact with the ground and absorbs jolts and shocks when you’re running. 

The ideal material for an outsole must be lightweight, durable, and offer adequate traction. A simple test for a good outsole is to squeeze it — if it bounces back fast and resets quickly, it’s a quality outsole.

If you’re using running shoes for exercise, make sure your shoes have good grip and durability: look for rubber soles or thick foam covers that offer traction and resistance to wear and tear.

Forefoot Cushioning

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The forefoot cushioning found in top running shoes is designed to reduce impact forces at the point of push-off, and provide protection for the foot. 

While the rest of your body will usually benefit from the cushioning provided by your ankle and knee joints, your feet will feel more comfortable and protected with additional forefoot cushioning. This what the energy-returned midsole technology does.

Choosing the right cushioning type depends on your foot strike pattern. Those who land on their midfoot or forefoot should opt for a responsive shoe that will give them a stable stance. Those who prefer to land on their heel should choose a more cushioned option.

Heel Cushioning

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Materials in the soles of running shoes help absorb shock upon impact — cushioning, gel, air, and soft foam are types of materials used. 

Some shoes also feature an outer sole with a softer coating, rounded or smoothed edges, or a softer crash pad to aid in shock absorption.

It’s a common misconception that heel cushioning is the primary source of comfort in running shoes. New studies show that the human body provides most of its own cushioning. And that additional cushioning doesn’t affect your stopping distance or impact force during a fall.

You must know how to choose running shoes. If you’re thinking of getting one, get a well-cushioned, stable, and responsive shoe with a lower heel-to-toe differential that rolls into your stride naturally.

You need to consider the heel cushioning if it’s about how to choose running shoes for feet that roll out.

Insole

The insole, also known as the sock liner, is one of the most important parts of a sneaker — without it, you’d have nothing to soften the contours of your foot and give your shoes their signature step-in comfort. 

Some are made out of foam for a softer feel or ones made out of plastic and metal for added firmness. Every type of insole has its purpose — there’s one for every occasion.

Focus on how your shoe feels while running — could be that it’s more comfortable than you think. Some prefer softer, more cushioning insoles while others go for stiffer ones that are better at providing arch support and ankle stability. It’s just a matter of preference! 

But there is one exception: if the shoe is built on a wider last and feels loose or sloppy, it’s better to use a more flexible insole to provide support.

Pronation Control

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Let’s talk about how to choose running shoes with orthotics a bit!

Orthotic technologies, such as dual-density foams, medial posts, wider shoe geometries, guide rails, and varus wedges are used by designers to prevent excessive motion in the foot. 

Some runners need this stability to prevent over-pronation or other movements. But not all runners can benefit from these devices.

Only a small percentage of runners actually need specialized footwear or orthotics to prevent over-pronation or other movements.

What you should look for is a shoe that uses a unique midsole technology to gently guide foot movement. 

This technology should provide support without correcting or constraining your movements. With no pressure points or hotspots, the foot and muscles can move naturally and freely.

Check out this video below by Running Warehouse to know more about pronation and shoe selection. 

Heel-Toe Drop

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Heel-Toe Drop describes the gap between the heel and ball of a shoe when viewed from above. 

Experts are split on the value of Heel-Toe Drop in relation to injuries, but there is agreement that it can change how your foot and leg work together; altering your stride and potentially reducing stress on any weak joints like the ankle joint.

The ankle joint is particularly important to have the right support, as it’s one of the most used joints in your body. This is important to consider when it comes to knowing how to choose running shoes.

Running Style

There are two types of runners — underpronators and overpronators. 

Understanding which type you are is important in choosing the right shoe because, as will be discussed later, running shoes are designed to correct specific issues. 

If you’re not sure if you’re overpronating, take a look at your feet after a run. If you tend to land on the outside of your feet while running then you’re likely an overpronator.

How to Choose Running Shoes Size?

Now, let’s have a chat about how to choose running shoes size.

Here’s a tip:

Shoes come in a variety of sizes to fit more feet. Men’s shoes are D width, while women’s shoes are B width. Narrow or wide shoes have corresponding options for those with unique foot shapes.

Make sure that you check the size guide. Depending on the brand, a shoe can be up to half a size too big or too small. It’s not common, but it’s something to watch out for, especially if the shoes are designed with running in mind.

How to Choose Saucony Running Shoes

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Saucony Men’s Ride 13 Running Shoe Store by Saucony (Amazon)

A fan of Saucony?

If you want to know how to choose Saucony running shoes the right way, this section might just help you.

We’ve put together a list of the most popular features that Saucony is recognized for, and talk about how they improve comfort, performance, and style. Hopefully, you’d have an idea what Saucony running shoes to get.

FORMFIT

FORMFIT originally launched in 2020 The Triumph Guide edition. It’s a new line of shoes that offers a revolutionary approach to comfort. With FORMFIT, feet are cradled from all sides, and there’s no pressure on the toes or the heel. 

ISOFIT

One of Saucony’s signature innovations, ISOFIT was introduced around 2015 and was met with much buzz in the running community. 

The technology separated the upper into a floating support cage and an inner sleeve, which would fit snugly to your foot no matter how you laced up your shoes (or not). 

However, it quickly became apparent that this design posed some issues.

SPEEDROLL

The SPEEDROLL, a part of Endorphin’s newest collection, is a model in the brand’s broader rocker-style lineup. It promotes a forward roll that’s faster and livelier. 

PWRRUN / PWRRUN+ / PWRRUN PB

Saucony has come out with new development in their EVERUN, the PWRRUN. This shoe is considerably lighter than the EVERUN and it makes it an even better choice for running.

PWRRUN+ is an advanced and highly responsive running shoe that takes the classic PWRRUN and improves on it. With its streamlined design that incorporates thousands of TPU “bubbles”, it looks nearly identical to Adidas’s Boost series, but with a smoother ride.

The PWRRUN PB is a shoe for more active runners who need more support than the minimalist Nike Free Flyknit and lighter weight than the ASICS Kayano. 

One of its main selling points is its Pebax foam, which offers a more responsive ride that’s both soft and durable. This makes it an ideal shoe for daily running and training, as well as for racing.

PWRTRAC

Saucony’s patented PWRTRAC® is a unique rubber compound that efficiently combines the best of both worlds: optimal traction and durability. 

PWRTRAC is an innovative rubber compound that allows the outsole of running shoes to be extra flexible, but at the same time maintain traction and stability on all surfaces. 

Carbon-Fiber Plate

You’ll find this feature in the Endorphin Pro race shoe. It helps you maintain a high tempo. It keeps your cadence high to keep you moving at the fastest pace possible.

How to Choose ASICS Running Shoes

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ASICS Men’s Gel-Nimbus 23 Running Shoes by ASICS Store (Amazon)

Once you know your running style, it’s easy to find the right ASICS shoe. Knowing your style allows you to shop by different categories of running shoes, depending on your specific needs. 

In ASICS’s core range, three categories of running shoes exist. The different levels of support offered between the three ranges allow people to make decisions based on their running style and preferences.

Cushioning (Neutral Running Shoes)

Cushioning running shoes are light both in weight and in features. They’re built to encourage movement and are best for neutral runners who are 13 stone in weight or less. 

They do not favor motion-control or stability features as much as other shoes, because they are built to be light and fast.

If you are an underpronator or have neutral feet, you are most likely to be best served by ASICS cushioning shoes. These shoes are designed to offer good support for those with neutral alignment and a low arch.

Structured Cushioning 

These sneakers feature a blend of stability and cushioning features, crafted on a semi-curved last for excellent ground contact. 

For the beginner runner or the mid-level runner looking for comfort and support without extreme control, these are great ASICS options.

If you overpronate when running, your stride is not very natural and you need additional support, look at the ASICS Structured Cushioning range. They offer comfort and stability for the mid/moderate overpronator.

Maximum Support (Stability Running Shoes)

ASICS has a range of supportive shoes and running gear that are designed to cater to the needs of runners with excessive pronation. 

The ASICS DUOMAX technology combines two densities of foam — high-density material within the midsole and low-density material on the outside — to stabilize the foot when it’s transitioning from a heel-strike to a toe-off.

If you have poor natural ankle support and over-pronation tendency and need extra support when you’re running, you’ll find what you need in ASICS’s Maximum Support shoe range.

ASICS Tech

ASICS’ AHAR technology is both strong and flexible, improving the shoes’ durability while keeping them lightweight and easy to wear.

Their FLUIDRIDE technology reduces shock and bounce, while their DUOMAX system gives you a more controlled and multidirectional run. And lastly, their heel clutching system improves fit and stability — keeping your feet feeling secure mile after mile.

ASICS’ proprietary technology SpEVA enhances rebound, which improves performance by 20%. This is in addition to the impact energy being transferred to the next step, keeping you going strong every mile. 

ASICS’ Trusstic technology locks the sole to the rest of the shoe, preventing twisting and making every step stable and secure. 

With SOLYTE, ASICS uses a lightweight material that delivers 20% more shock absorption than EVA sponges. That’s how you can run through the whole marathon without feeling pain on the last mile!

If it’s important for you to find ASICS running shoes, you might want to check out ASICS’ Men’s Gel-Nimbus 23 Running Shoes. Unparalleled comfort and support come standard on the classic sneaker, which has a version for women as well.

How to Choose Hoka Running Shoes

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HOKA ONE ONE Men’s Clifton 7 Running Shoe by HOKA ONE ONE (Amazon)

In the early days, Hoka One One was all about creating shoes that not only supported your body but also returned energy to it. 

Whether you were hiking on rough terrain or running down a city street, Hoka’s unique cushioning system would soften each step and return energy so runners could go further with less effort. 

Their shoes have since grabbed attention from the toughest runners in the sport.

Want to know how to choose Hoka running shoes? If you’re looking for a pair of high-mileage Hoka running shoes that suit your needs, it’s important to consider the following steps:

1. If you’re in the market for running shoes, deciding what’s right for your particular routine is paramount. 

Some shoes are built for repeated use on concrete, while others are better suited to technical trails or jogging on softer surfaces like sand or grass. 

Understanding your needs will give you a clearer picture of how to choose Hoka running shoes that’s just right for you.

2. When it comes to cushioning, Hoka One One shoes are the cream of the crop. 

You’ll find that all Hoka shoes have some level of cushioning, but the material is certainly not the same in every shoe. That’s precisely why Hoka One One has so many different models for you to choose from. Each shoe offers varying levels of technology and engineering.

3. If you have a tendency toward ankle rolls, Hoka One One running shoes are designed to keep you on track. 

The brand uses an extra-thick midsole cushion that provides ample protection and reduces foot strike impact — while keeping you comfy.

If you overpronate, look for running shoes that have an enhanced medial post and medial support system. This can reduce your chances of injury even further.

4. Cheap running shoes don’t always mean a bargain. 

Before buying your next pair of running shoes, make sure to check early reviews to determine whether the shoe is right for you.

5. When shoe shopping, we recommend trying on a pair before buying it. This helps you to make sure that the shoe fits the way it should and helps you determine if you like it enough to buy it.

If you’re in the market for Hoka running shoes for men, you might want to check out the HOKA ONE ONE Men’s Clifton 7 Running Shoe. It has properties that can offer a wide range of support and comfort, making it a reliable option. The women’s version is available, too!

How to Choose Running Shoes – Fleet Feet Guide

When it comes to running, there are many factors to think about. One of the most important is the shoes that you wear — they need to fit well but also offer support and protection for your feet. 

Running shoes have a specific purpose and will be best at tackling one kind of running. Some are better for training, some for marathons, and others for indoor and outdoor running.

Here’s a guide by FLEET FEET on how to choose running shoes.

1. It’s important to think about what type of terrain you’ll be training on and which features on the shoe you prefer — from the material to the weight, you should feel completely comfortable in your footwear while training. 

2. Running shoes aren’t just for running — they’re great to wear when walking or just casually strolling. A good pair is comfortable, durable, and of course, fashionable. 

The casual sense of running shoes comes from their versatility — sure, they’re great for running on the streets or the treadmill, but they also look fabulous for a night out with friends or a stroll in the park.

3. Pronation is a big deal. It’s the way that your body stabilizes its joints during a weight-bearing activity like running. 

If you overpronate, you put additional stress on other parts of your body — and may require special support. So test them out at the store or get an automatic analysis at home.

4. You’ll know you have the right pair of shoes if your toes, from the tip to where they join your foot, are just a thumb’s width away from the end of your shoe. 

Your foot should feel secure and comfortable – not too tight or too loose, but just right. The rest of your foot should fit snugly into its natural position within the shoe.

5. Once you’ve found the right pair of running shoes, you need to keep in mind that running shoes typically last around 300 miles if you’re a regular runner.

If you’re racing, though, or hitting the pavement every day without giving them a rest, they’ll quickly fall apart.

Check out this video on how to choose running shoes by Fleet Feet.

How to Choose Shoes for Marathon Running

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ASICS Men’s Gel-Nimbus 22 Running Shoes by ASICS Store (Amazon)

Marathon running is a thrilling experience for runners of every level. While doing 26.2 miles may sound daunting, the first step in training is to know how to choose shoes for marathon running that can keep you comfortable and stable throughout your race.

1. Running a marathon deserves a special pair of shoes, and when you’re training for one, it’s especially important to find the pair that best matches your goals. 

Every runner is different; some focus on speed and sweat resistance while others want a lightweight shoe that can keep up with their energy over extended periods. 

Regardless of your intentions, there’s a shoe out there that can match your running aspirations for race day.

2. To run well, you can’t be thinking about your shoes. Stop over-analyzing how your gait and stride could be improved by a new pair of kicks — the right tech will work with your body to give you more support when you need it, less interference when you don’t.

3. Marathon runners have specific needs when it comes to running shoes. You need to consider a shoe tech that addresses each one of those: stability and comfort, without the bulk. 

4. When you go to the running store, don’t go too early. 

When runners head to the store in the morning, they’re usually still well fit for their old shoes. This is because the swelling in their feet hasn’t started yet. 

But as the day goes on, it’s easy to see that your feet increase in size by several millimeters. This makes afternoon or evening a great time to try on new shoes.

5. If you’re a regular runner, chances are you won’t wear each pair of shoes evenly. 

By having two pairs of the same shoe on hand, you’ll be able to alternate between them as the need arises. This will allow you to make better use of both pairs, and extend their life by many miles. 

If you’re serious about getting the most out of your mileage, consider investing in a different pair for speed training and tempo runs.

If you’re a marathoner who’s searching for shoes that can keep up with your daily training routine, the ASICS Men’s Gel-Nimbus 22 Running Shoes may be just what you’re looking for.

Ladies, if you’re planning a marathon or other long-lasting races, you may want to get the ASICS Women’s Gel-Venture 7 Running Shoes.

How to Choose Middle Distance Running Shoes

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New Balance Men’s Middle Distance 800 V6 Running Shoes by New Balance Store (Amazon)

Middle distance running shoes are sprinting spikes in a different outfit — most often with more padding and flexibility for your comfort. These shoes support the natural foot movement of runners during the 800m, 1500m, 1600m, or mile run.

If you are a jumper, know that when you land, the force applied to your body can increase up to 10x your body weight. So you need shoes that can handle freakish jumping and heel-hurdling abilities: shoes with excellent cushioning and support for the ankles.

For the men who like to run with middle-distance in mind, the New Balance Men’s Middle Distance 800 V6 Running Shoes might just be what you need. These running shoes also have a version for women.

How to Choose Long Distance Running Shoes

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Nike Men’s Herren Laufschuh Zoom Pegasus 35 Turbo Training Shoes by Nike (Amazon)

The best long-distance running shoes are lightweight but still offer arch support. Most of the shoes also feature a wide toe box that keeps your toes relaxed during those long, exhausting runs. Before buying a brand new pair, look into the materials of the upper.   

Lycra and mesh uppers wick away moisture from the foot to keep you dry while offering breathability on hot days.

Typically, experienced athletes looking for minimal cushioning do better with a more minimalist shoe, while less-trained runners can benefit from the extra cushioning of a heavier trainer. 

For growing numbers of marathoners, finding the right pair is a balance between these two extremes, and choosing that requires an understanding of how each contributes to performance and overall comfort.

Long-distance running can be hard on the legs, and that’s why women need to make sure their shoes are up to the task. For the best in leg protection and all-day support, the Nike Women’s Zoom Pegasus Turbo 2 Running Shoe could be what you’re looking for ladies!

For men, Nike Men’s Herren Laufschuh Zoom Pegasus 35 Turbo Training Shoes are some of the best long-distance running shoes.

How to Choose Running Shoes for Bad Knees

ASICS Men’s Gel-Kayano 27 Running Shoes by ASICS Store (Amazon)

For people with bad knees, finding the right running shoes is hard. If you’re shopping for shoes that will make running bearable on your bad knees, make sure you know how to choose running shoes for bad knees. Consider the following things below:

1. Shock absorption is a must when it comes to running shoes. A good pair will absorb the shock of pounding feet on pavement, lessening pain and injury. 

If you need supportive shoes but have bad knees, find shoes with ample shock absorption to take preventative action against future pain or injuries.

2. Running shoes with a zero-drop can strain your knees and even cause arthritis. An ideal shoe should not only have a shallow drop but also be flexible enough to hold the natural shape of the foot.

3. Breathability is a key component of the best running shoes. When it comes to shoes, mesh or textile uppers are preferable to leather or synthetic materials. 

Breathable uppers allow for air circulation which prevents moisture accumulation inside the shoes and keeps feet from overheating.

4. Shoes with abrasion-resistant, water-proof soles can provide better protection for your feet than those without. 

High-quality soles are designed to conform to the shape of your arch, follow the natural contours of your foot, and reduce the pressure that causes blisters.

5. One of the most important elements of a shoe is how it fits — and that can vary depending on the shape of the foot, among other factors. 

To find well-fitting shoes, look for brands that offer true to size options. For additional support, keep an eye out for shoes with extra padding and sufficient arch support.

6. Shoes with traction prevent slipping and improve stability. The best shoes for traction have multi-directional treads, which provide a better grip on the ground.

For the ladies with achy joints, especially for those with knee conditions, Brooks Women’s Adrenaline GTS 21 might be the perfect shoe for your everyday training. 

And for the boys with knee problems, if you’re looking for running shoes that can support you, the ASICS Men’s Gel-Kayano 27 Running Shoes may be the solution for you.

Conclusion

If you’ve been wanting to know how to choose running shoes, well choosing the right running shoe depends on some factors. 

The most important factor for runners is whether a shoe is suited to the running surface and grip they prefer, as this impacts injuries and performance. 

Fit also plays a big part in road-running shoes: ill-fitting shoes are often uncomfortable, will wear out faster, and can cause another type of injury if the footwear does not provide enough support or cushioning.

If you’re not sure which running shoes are right for you, be sure to visit your local running store and get fitted for a pair of running shoes. 

A good shop will measure your feet, examine your gait, and recommend the best pair of shoes for your running needs. 

If you want to get in on the analysis, a handful of shops offer gait analyses that determine whether you’re a pronator, supinator, etc., and recommend the support level you need.

At the end of the day, you’ll need to choose what works best for you. Don’t stress about choosing the wrong shoes — most retailers offer easy refunds or exchanges if you’re not completely satisfied with your purchase.