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How To Find & Choose The Right Running Shoes
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How To Find & Choose The Right Running Shoes

How to Find & Choose The Right Running Shoes

When distinguishing between running shoes, consider your foot type, pronation, running surface, cushioning level, support and stability features, weight, drop and stack height, flexibility, upper material, and brand reputation. Assess your preferences and needs, and visit a specialty running store to try on multiple pairs. Pay attention to how they feel and perform, and consider factors like breathability and overall comfort. 

In This Running Shoe Guide

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Key Takeaways

Personalization is Crucial: Individual preferences, needs, and running styles differ, making it essential to understand your unique requirements. Visiting a specialty running store, trying on multiple pairs, and seeking expert advice contribute to a personalized selection.

Gender-Specific Considerations: Women should factor in biomechanical and anatomical differences. This includes choosing women-specific models, understanding pronation patterns, considering foot anatomy, and addressing specific issues related to pregnancy, postpartum changes, and breast support.

The Difference Between Running Shoes

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To distinguish between running shoes, consider the following key factors:

Foot Type and Pronation

Identify your foot arch (high, normal, flat) and your pronation type (overpronation, neutral pronation, underpronation). Different shoes cater to these variations.

Running Surface

Choose shoes designed for your primary running surface – road, trail, or track. They have different features to provide optimal performance on specific terrains.

Cushioning Level

Running shoes vary in cushioning, from minimal to maximum. Decide on the amount of cushioning you prefer based on your comfort preferences and the type of running you do.

Support and Stability Features

Consider the level of support and stability provided by the shoes. Some are designed for overpronators with added support, while others are neutral for those with a more even footstrike.

Weight of the Shoe

Running shoes come in different weights. Lighter shoes may enhance speed, while slightly heavier ones might provide more support. Choose based on your preference and running style.

Drop and Stack Height

The drop is the height difference between the heel and forefoot. Stack height refers to the thickness of the midsole. Lower drop shoes promote a more natural stride, while higher drops may offer more cushioning.


Assess the flexibility of the shoe. Some runners prefer more flexibility for a natural feel, while others prioritize stability. Choose based on your comfort and running style.

Upper Material and Breathability

Evaluate the upper material for breathability and comfort. Mesh materials are often used to enhance airflow, keeping your feet cool during runs.

Brand and Model Reputation

Different brands have unique technologies and fits. Consider the reputation and reviews of specific models. Some brands may have a history of catering to certain foot types or running styles.


Determine your budget and explore options within that range. Keep in mind that quality running shoes are an investment in your comfort and running experience.

Try Them On and Test

Visit a specialty running store, try on multiple pairs, and if possible, test them with a short run in the store to feel how they perform.

Understanding your individual preferences, running style, and specific needs will guide you in choosing the right running shoes for you. If you’re unsure, seeking advice from knowledgeable staff at a running store can be immensely helpful.

Choosing Running Shoes As A Woman

Image Courtesy of Nike

Choosing the right running shoes as a woman are similar considerations to choosing running shoes for men, though with some additional factors specific to women’s biomechanics and foot anatomy. 

Here are specific tips for you as woman:

Consider Women-Specific Models

Some brands design running shoes specifically for women, taking into account differences in arch shape, foot width, and biomechanics. Look for options labeled as women’s or designed for a female fit.

Understand Women’s Pronation Patterns

Women tend to have a higher Q-angle (the angle between the hips and the knee) than men. This can affect pronation patterns. Consider your pronation type (overpronation, neutral, or underpronation) when selecting shoes.

Know the Anatomy of Women’s Feet

Women often have narrower heels and a wider forefoot compared to men. Shoes with a snug heel and sufficient room in the toe box can provide a better fit.

Consider Female-Specific Injuries

Women may be more prone to certain injuries, such as knee and hip issues. Shoes with appropriate cushioning and support can help address these concerns.

Look for Stylish Options

While style isn’t the most critical factor, many women appreciate running shoes that not only perform well but also look good. Fortunately, many brands offer a variety of stylish options.

Take Into Account Pregnancy and Postpartum Changes

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If you’re pregnant or recently gave birth, be aware that hormonal changes can affect ligaments and foot size. Your shoe size may change during and after pregnancy.

Consider Breast Support

For women with larger breasts, proper breast support is essential. A good sports bra is crucial to prevent discomfort and potential long-term damage.

Listen to Your Body

Women’s bodies can go through hormonal fluctuations that affect ligaments and joints. Listen to your body and be aware of any changes in how your shoes feel during different phases of your menstrual cycle.

Check for Flexibility

Women often have greater flexibility than men. Consider shoes that provide the right balance of flexibility and support based on your individual needs.

Ask for Expert Advice

Seek assistance from knowledgeable staff at specialty running stores. They can help analyze your gait, assess your foot type, and recommend suitable options.

Consider Terrain and Running Type

Choose shoes based on the type of running you do and the surfaces you run on. Whether you’re a trail runner or stick to the roads, there are specific shoes designed for each type of terrain.

Read Reviews and Get Recommendations

Look for reviews from other female runners, and ask for recommendations from friends or running communities. Personal experiences can provide valuable insights.

Remember that individual preferences and needs vary, so take the time to find shoes that suit your unique requirements and provide the support and comfort you need for your running activities.

How To Identify Your Foot Type and Pronation

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Understanding your foot type and pronation is crucial when selecting running shoes. Here’s how you can identify your foot arch and pronation type:

Foot Arch

  • High Arch: If you have a high arch, the midsection of your foot may not make much contact with the ground. Your footprint may show only your heel, the ball of your foot, and a thin line on the outer edge.
  • Normal Arch: If your arch is normal, your footprint will have a distinct curve along the inner side but not excessively. The ball of your foot and heel will be connected by a moderate-width strip.
  • Flat Arch: If you have a flat arch, your footprint will show a wide strip connecting the ball of your foot to your heel. The arch may appear collapsed or very low.


  • Overpronation: If you overpronate, your foot rolls inward excessively when you run. This can lead to stress on the inner side of your foot. Look for shoes with stability or motion control features to help counteract this motion.
  • Neutral Pronation: With neutral pronation, your foot rolls slightly inward, which is a natural and balanced motion. You can choose a variety of running shoes, but neutral shoes are generally suitable.
  • Underpronation (Supination): If you underpronate, your foot doesn’t roll inward enough, leading to more impact on the outer edge. Look for shoes with extra cushioning and flexibility to absorb shock and promote a more natural stride.

Tips for Foot Identification

  • Wet Test: Wet your foot, step on a piece of paper, and examine the footprint. This can provide a rough indication of your arch type.
  • Gait Analysis: Visit a specialty running store where they can conduct a gait analysis. Experts can observe your walking or running pattern and identify your pronation type.

How Shoes Cater to Variations

  • High Arch: Cushioned and flexible shoes are often recommended to absorb shock and provide comfort.
  • Normal Arch: Most types of running shoes, including neutral ones, may be suitable. It depends on your specific preferences and running style.
  • Flat Arch: Stability or motion control shoes with extra support are often recommended to address overpronation.

Understanding your foot type and pronation helps you choose shoes that provide the right support and reduce the risk of injuries. If in doubt, consult with experts at a running store for personalized advice based on your unique characteristics.

What Is Drop and Stack Height?

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Understanding the terms “drop” and “stack height” in running shoes can help you choose a pair that aligns with your running preferences and biomechanics.

The Drop

  • Definition: Drop refers to the height difference between the heel and forefoot of the shoe. It is measured in millimeters.
  • Lower Drop: Shoes with a lower drop have a smaller height difference between the heel and forefoot. This design promotes a more natural or minimalist stride, encouraging a midfoot or forefoot landing. It may be preferred by runners who aim for a more efficient and biomechanically natural running style.
  • Higher Drop: Shoes with a higher drop have a greater height difference between the heel and forefoot. This design often provides more cushioning and support for the heel, encouraging a heel-striking running style. Higher drop shoes can be suitable for runners who prefer additional cushioning, especially during longer runs.

Stack Height

  • Definition: Stack height refers to the overall thickness of the midsole, including both the heel and forefoot sections. It is measured from the ground to the foot inside the shoe.
  • Lower Stack Height: Shoes with a lower stack height have less material between your foot and the ground. This can contribute to a more responsive feel and better ground contact, enhancing the sensation of the terrain beneath your feet.
  • Higher Stack Height: Shoes with a higher stack height provide more cushioning and shock absorption. They may be preferred by runners seeking additional protection from the impact forces associated with running on harder surfaces.

How to Choose

  • Personal Preference: The choice between a lower or higher drop, as well as stack height, often comes down to personal preference. Consider what feels comfortable and natural for your running style.
  • Biomechanics: If you’re transitioning to a lower drop, it’s essential to do so gradually to allow your body to adapt to the changes in running mechanics.


  • Experiment: If you’re unsure about the ideal drop or stack height, experiment with different options. Some runners may find they prefer different drops for different types of runs.
  • Consider Running Goals: Your running goals, such as speed, endurance, or injury prevention, can influence your choice of drop and stack height.

Understanding the impact of drop and stack height on your running mechanics can guide you in selecting shoes that align with your preferences and contribute to a more comfortable and enjoyable running experience. If uncertain, consult with experts at a running store for personalized advice based on your specific needs.


Selecting the right running shoes is a nuanced process that requires a thorough examination of various factors. Whether assessing foot characteristics, exploring gender-specific considerations, or understanding the significance of drop and stack height, the overarching theme is personalization. 

Tailoring your choice based on individual needs, preferences, and running style ensures an optimal and comfortable running experience. Seeking expert guidance and experimenting with different options are valuable steps toward finding the perfect pair of running shoes.

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