When preparing to go for a walk there are many different variables to consider in order to ensure that your experience is safe, healthy, and enjoyable.  However, while tasks like planning out your route beforehand and choosing the correct articles and layers of clothing can determine your level of enjoyment to some degree, there is no pre-walk task more important than choosing the correct footwear.  Without a pair of comfortable and correctly chosen sneakers, your walk will lead to discomfort from the very first step.  

Now, to some, buying a pair of running shoes can be a daunting task.  Indeed, before I took some time to learn the factors in what makes a shoe fit well, I often felt a little overwhelmed when presented with the typical sneaker display in the sporting goods store.  Nevertheless, the following tips should give you a solid understanding of what to look for when buying a pair of running shoes.  

Shape 

When choosing your shoes, make sure the shape of the shoe loosely matches the shape of your foot.  For example, I have long, narrow feet and toes, and so when searching for a new pair of running shoes I look for models that mimic that general shape rather than a pair that might be more wide and boxy.  Mismatched shoe and foot shapes can make your feet extremely uncomfortable, and in some cases could make you more susceptible to a foot injury.  Further, a good running shoe that forms around your foot will eliminate the potential for slippage and drastically reduce the risk of blisters.  However, make sure the shoe is not too tight, as your toes especially will need room to flex to aid in your stride.    

Cushioning and Support

Just as no two people will have the exact same shaped foot, so too will no two people require the exact same amount of cushioning and support in their running shoes.   However, as a general rule, you want shoes that will support your foot and your stride without adding too much weight or stiffness, enabling you to move freely and without hindrance from your feet.  The best way to ensure you’ve picked the correct shoes is to try them on in-store and move around to get a feel for them.  However, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, it may not be as easy to pop into your local running store and try on some sneakers.  While you could always call into the store and talk to an employee about different shoes, many running stores across the country have set up virtual fit-tests with their employees to ensure you know exactly what to look for in a shoe so you can order online.  Check out this one from A Runner’s Mind in California! (https://arunnersmind.com/virtual-gait-analysis/)

While these general tips should help you begin your search for the correct running shoes, please feel free to check out this post from RunnersWorld.com for a more detailed look at what to look for in a pair of sneakers.    (https://www.runnersworld.com/gear/a20842305/how-to-buy-the-right-running-shoes/

And from an earlier post from our local friends at Potomac River Running Store.

About the Author:

Meet Jack: Jack Pelletier is a rising senior at Georgetown University studying Government, English, and Journalism.  Currently based in San Francisco, Jack loves walking, running, and otherwise exploring his outdoor surroundings.  As a member of the Netwalking team, Jack is excited to channel his passions for nature and movement into the Netwalking mission of connecting others through walking.