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.

June 22, 2015

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. However, once you find the right pair, you may find yourself running in a different gear. Find out how to choose the right running shoes for you with these helpful tips from our DICK’S Sporting Goods Run Ambassadors.


Before you begin racing toward your new running shoes, it’s important to understand how they should fit. Run Ambassador Ryan Marshall says, “As a whole, I recommend at least one half of a thumbnail to one thumbnail of space from where your toe is to the end of the shoe. Typically, that ranges from about one half-size to a full size of what you measure at.”

This added space can help improve your running comfort due to the natural toll running takes on your feet. With every pavement-pounding step, your feet can begin to swell. The extra space can allow your feet to expand comfortably without jamming your toes into the front.

There are instances, however, where a tighter fitting shoe can come in handy. According to Run Ambassador Amy Adkins, a snug fitting shoe can be great for speed training or trail running. The added tightness can create a more form-fitting feel, holding your foot in place for agility and security. Be sure to think through your intended running plans and personal preferences before trying on a pair.


There are three distinct styles of running shoes: neutral, stability and motion control. Each type of shoe offers different qualities for various running styles.

Neutral Running Shoes

This type of running shoes complements neutral runners with medium arches. Neutral running shoes can also benefit runners with high arches who exhibit supination, also known as underpronation. Neutral running shoes offer midsole cushioning and support designed for added shock absorption.

Stability Running Shoes

Stability shoes are for runners who experience mild to moderate overpronation with low or flat arches. They feature adequate medial support and midsole cushioning. These shoes can help distribute the impact of running to minimize overpronation.

Motion Control Running Shoes

These shoes can be a great choice for runners who exhibit moderate to severe overpronation. Motion control shoes have extra built-in support and flatter outsoles. This combination can help combat excessive pronation to help stabilize the foot.

There are a few ways to figure out which running shoe may best fit you. This includes the arches of your feet, your gait type and the tread of your shoes.

For more guidance on how to choose the right type of running shoe, check out the DICK'S Running Shoe Finder. Answer a few quick questions about your running habits and preferred fit, and the Running Shoe Finder will point you towards the perfect pair.


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

How to determin your arch type: 1 wet the bottom of your foot, 2 step onto a paper towel or piece of paper,  3 look at your foot print. Print


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

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


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 flexible and likely to overpronate.

Flat feet show this type of foot print showing most of the bottom of a foot in the image.. Flat


These 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.

Medium feet have this type of foot print showing more of an arched shape between the ankle and pad behind the toes.. Medium


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 neutral running shoes with extra cushioning.

High arch has this type of foot print with a complete gap between the pad behind the toes to the ankle imprint. High



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:


With this gait, the outside of your heel strikes the ground first and your foot rolls slightly inward to absorb the shock. The foot may pronate but not excessively. Your foot evenly pushes off at the end of your gait. Runners with a neutral gait should consider neutral running shoes.


The outside of your heel strikes the ground and rolls excessively inward. This hinders your foot and ankle’s ability to stabilize your body and absorb impact. Runners who exhibit overpronation should go with stability or motion control shoes.

Over Pronation looks like this with the ankle tilted inward some. Pronation

Supination (Underpronation)

The 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 concentrate in a small portion on the outside of your foot, decreasing impact absorption. This gait type can benefit from a neutral shoe with plenty of cushioning.


If you are still unsure of your gait type, visit your local DICK’S Sporting Goods. The running PROS will give you a complimentary gait analysis to help find the right type of shoe for you. Learn more about gait analysis with Pro Tips.

Supination looks like this with the ankle tilting outward slightly. Supination



An easy way to find clues about your gait type is to check the tread of a pair of your shoes. If you do not have another pair of running shoes, look at a pair of well-worn sneakers. You should be able to identify which gait type you have:


Overpronation: Wear on the inside of the shoe.


Neutral: Even wear of the shoe in the ball of the foot and a portion of the heel.


Supination/Underpronation: Wear on the outside of the shoe.



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 these shoes. Traditional running 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.

    Knowing what to look for when choosing a pair of running shoes can help you hit the ground running during your next workout.

    Finding the right pair of shoes is only the first step in gearing up for the big run. Check out what to look for in running socks and learn how to choose a pair of running shorts.

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

    Searching for the right size? Look for the True Fit icon on apparel and footwear product pages when shopping online at DICK’S Sporting Goods. Get personalized size and fit recommendations with just a few clicks. Learn more about True Fit.