How to Buy Running Shoes

Before you lace up for your next run, use this guide to help find the right running shoes for you.

No matter if you’re preparing to run a big race or working to get into shape, knowing what to look for in running shoes is key. There are several factors that go into choosing a pair that fits your needs. But once you find the right pair, you may find yourself running in a different gear.


Determining Arch Size

The first step to finding a pair of running shoes is to know your arch type. An easy way to find this is by following these three steps:

  • Wet the bottom of your foot.
  • Step onto a paper towel or a piece of paper.
  • Look at your foot imprint.

This will help you determine which of the three arch types (flat, medium or high) you have.

FLATFlat Arch Size

Flat feet have very low or non-visible arches. They leave imprints that are nearly whole, appearing much like the entire sole of the foot. This type of arch is usually more flexible and likely to overpronate.


Best Running Shoes: Stability Shoes or Motion-Control Shoes

MEDIUMMedium Arch Size

Normal feet have moderate to average arch sizes and leave an imprint that shows only the heel and forefoot connected by a wide band. Runners who have normal feet usually have a semi-flexible arch.


Best Running Shoes: Stability Shoes or Neutral Shoes

HIGHHigh Arch Size

A foot has high arches when the heel and forefoot connect in a very narrow band. High-arched feet are more rigid and do not typically pronate enough to effectively absorb impact. For this reason, runners with high arches may prefer running shoes with extra cushioning. 

Best Running Shoes: Neutral Shoes


Your running gait is the way your feet strike and leave the ground while you’re running or walking. Gait helps determine what part of your foot touches the ground when moving. This will impact what running shoe you buy.

There are three distinct gait types:


Neutral Gait SizeWith this gait, the outside of your heel strikes the ground first, and your foot rolls slightly inward to absorb the shock. The foot pronates, but not excessively. Your foot evenly pushes off at the end of your gait.

Best Running Shoes: Neutral Shoes


Overpronation Gait SizeThe outside of your heel strikes the ground and rolls excessively inward, hindering your foot and ankle’s ability to stabilize your body and absorb impact.

Best Running Shoes: Stability Shoes or Motion-Control Shoes


Supination Gait SizeThe outside of your heel strikes the ground first but does not roll inward through the gait cycle. The heel remains rotated outward. This causes the impact to be concentrated in a small portion on the outside of your foot. This can decrease impact absorption.


Best Running Shoes: Stability Shoes


Your footwear’s effectiveness can also depend on your running environment. Depending on where you’re running, you may find that traditional running shoes or trail-running shoes are better for you.

  • Traditional Running Shoes: Run on pavement, packed trails and indoor surfaces with this footwear. These shoes are light and designed with flexible outsoles.
  • Trail-Running Shoes: Dense rubber outsoles fortify these shoes. This provides tread and durability against off-road terrain.


After figuring out your arch and gait type, you’ll be able to determine what type of shoe you’ll need to buy. Each type of shoe offers different qualities for various running styles.


Neutral Running Shoes

This footwear complements runners with high arches who exhibit supination, or an excessive outward roll of the foot. Neutral running shoes offer midsole cushioning designed for added shock absorption.


Motion Control Running Shoes

This shoe can be a great choice for runners with low or flat arches. Motion-control shoes have extra built-in support and flatter outsoles. This combination can help combat excessive pronation to stabilize the foot.


Stability Shoes

Stability shoes are for runners with medium arches. They feature adequate medial support and midsole cushioning.

Now that you know what to look for when choosing your next pair of running shoes, you’ll be ready to hit the ground running when you head out for your next workout.

Shop the entire collections of men’s running shoes and women’s running shoes at DICK’S Sporting Goods.