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Running Shoes

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Find the Right Fit: Running Shoe Buying Guide

Mile after mile—discover the shoes it takes to keep running.

The proper running shoe sets you apart at the starting line. DICK’S Sporting Goods offers the latest in footwear technology. Don’t be left behind—find the shoe that matches your gait. First, what kind of runner are you?

  • The Sprinter: Racing shoes are lightweight, high-performance and designed for speed.
  • The Mid-Distance Runner: These lightweight, cushioned shoes are built to blend speed and comfort.
  • The Marathoner: For long-distance running, the best running shoe provides cushioning and support for repetitive running on pavement. Fit and comfort are crucial.
  • The Trail-Runner: These shoes offer a denser sole than average running shoes with added stability and durability. Ample cushioning supports and protects joints on uneven terrain. Extra traction along the outsole is needed for uneven surfaces.
  • The “Barefoot” or Minimalist Runner: Minimalist running has seen a resurgence in recent years. “Barefoot” running shoes safely mimic the natural gait, with just enough added foot protection to safeguard against abrasion.

Buying Tips

Learn more about a running shoe’s make-up to make an informed choice:

Upper: The upper is the soft body of the shoe, usually made of a combination of materials from lightweight, durable synthetic mesh to heavier materials like leather. The materials and construction of the upper provide stability, comfort, and a snug fit:

  • Toe box: The front part of the shoe. The toe box should provide ample room to allow the foot to flex and make the toe-off portion of the running motion more comfortable. A toe box that is too small will restrict the muscles and tendons in the foot and lead to pain and cramping.
  • Heel counter: A plastic or composite material used to reinforce the heel area and increase stability. Heel counters come in varying degrees of stiffness. An external heel counter generally provides the most motion control and stability.
  • Achilles notch: A groove in the back of the heel collar that protects the Achilles tendon. The notch provides a snug, secure fit preventing irritation to the tendon.

Last: This is the basic shape of the shoe. Running shoes have one of three basic lasts: straight, curved, and semi-curved.

  • Straight: Heavier and provides more support under the arch.
  • Curved: Lighter and less supportive.
  • Semi-Curved: A hybrid of the two others and is capable of providing support under the arch.

Insole: The removable part inside the shoe that the runner's foot rests on. It offers more cushioning to supplement the midsole for added comfort.

Midsole: Provides cushioning and, in certain shoe types, the midsole evenly disperses pressure on the foot.

Outsole: The bottom layer of the shoe that is in direct contact with the ground.

Expert Advice

Determining your gait mechanics is the essential toward selecting the right shoe. Pronation is a term used to describe the natural inward roll of the foot during a runner's gait cycle. After the heel strikes the ground, the heel and the ankle roll inward and weight is transferred to the midfoot. Overpronation and underpronation can cause injuries if the runner is not wearing the proper shoe.