How To Determine What Type Of Running Shoe You Need

When it comes to running, choosing the right pair of shoes is absolutely crucial. Wearing the wrong type of running shoe can lead to discomfort, pain, and even injury. But with so many options available, how do you determine what type of running shoe you need? As a seasoned runner, I’ve had my fair share of trial and error when it comes to finding the perfect shoe. In this article, I will share my personal insights and detailed tips to help you make an informed decision.

Gait Analysis

One of the first steps in determining the right running shoe for you is to analyze your running gait. Your running gait refers to the way your foot strikes the ground during each stride. There are three main types of foot strikes:

  1. Neutral pronation: This is when the foot strikes the ground with the outside of the heel and then rolls slightly inward to absorb shock. The weight is evenly distributed across the foot.
  2. Overpronation: This occurs when the foot rolls inward excessively after the initial heel strike. Overpronators may have low arches and need shoes with extra support and stability.
  3. Underpronation (supination): This is when the foot doesn’t roll inward enough after the initial heel strike. Underpronators often have high arches and need shoes with good cushioning and flexibility.

A gait analysis can be done at a specialty running store or with the help of a professional running coach. They will observe your running stride and help determine your foot strike pattern. Once you know your gait, you can choose a running shoe that offers the right level of support and cushioning.

Foot Type

Aside from analyzing your gait, considering your foot type is also important in choosing the right running shoe. There are three main types of foot shapes:

  1. Low arches (flat feet): If you have low arches, your foot may tend to roll inward excessively. Look for shoes with stability features to help control pronation.
  2. Normal arches: If you have normal arches, you have a neutral foot position. Look for shoes that offer a good balance of cushioning and support.
  3. High arches: If you have high arches, your foot may not roll inward enough. Look for shoes with extra cushioning to absorb shock.

Understanding your foot type will guide you in selecting a running shoe that provides the appropriate support and comfort for your feet.

Running Surface

Another factor to consider is the surface on which you primarily run. Different running shoes are designed for different terrains:

  • Road running shoes: These shoes are designed for pavement and provide cushioning and shock absorption.
  • Trail running shoes: These shoes have more aggressive outsoles and offer better traction on uneven terrain.
  • Track running shoes: These shoes are lightweight and designed for speed on the track.
  • Cross-training shoes: These shoes are versatile and can be used for various activities, including running on different surfaces.

Choosing the right shoe based on the surface you’ll be running on most frequently can enhance your overall running experience and reduce the risk of injury.

Try Before You Buy

Once you have an understanding of your gait, foot type, and running surface, it’s time to hit the stores and try on different shoes. Keep in mind that sizes may vary between brands, so it’s important to try on multiple pairs to find the right fit. Here are a few tips:

  • Try shoes on later in the day when your feet are more likely to be slightly swollen, similar to how they might feel after a run.
  • Wear the type of socks you typically use for running to ensure proper fit and comfort.
  • Walk or jog around the store to get a feel for the shoe’s comfort and support.
  • Pay attention to any areas of discomfort or pressure points.

By following these tips and trusting your instincts, you’ll be able to select the perfect running shoe for your needs.


Choosing the right running shoe is a personal journey that requires understanding your gait, foot type, and running surface. By analyzing these factors and trying on different shoes, you can find a pair that provides the right support, cushioning, and comfort. Remember, investing in a good pair of running shoes is essential to your overall running experience and can help prevent injuries down the road. Happy running!