Shop for Running Shoes

Britt Aboutaleb

Normally I'd rather shoe-shop for Nicholas Kirkwoods than Nikes, but that’s because I was doing it all wrong. I knew people needed specific sneakers to run marathons, or to feel the ground beneath your feet. But I run a few miles on the treadmill four days a week, take an occasional boxing class, and go on long jogs outside when it’s sunny—all in the same pair of shoes that, frankly, I purchased because I liked the color (neon pink and blue). How else is one supposed to shop for running shoes? Armed with an app, a treadmill, and knowledge of the difference between pronate and supinate, apparently. 


I went to the experts at Nike to find out exactly what points should be covered, but wherever you go to buy running shoes, make sure the salesperson asks (and that you answer) the following questions: "How often do you run? How many miles?  Do you run on a treadmill, the road, a trail? Are you training for anything? What’s your average pace?" But even more importantly, make sure the person selling you these new trainers is watching you run.


My Nike salesperson filmed me running—from two different angles—and then the Nike in-store app measured the angle at which my foot hit the ground and followed through (that’s pronation). If the outside of your foot hits the ground correctly, but your ankle rolls in or out, you over-pronate. This means you need the most supportive shoe to force your foot into place, because you’ll absolutely hurt yourself rolling all over the place. If your foot lands on the ground at a slant, you supinate. If you have a high arch or if notice your shoes wearing down on the outside edge, you’re probably supinating.

After running on the treadmill for a few minutes and answering questions, we discover that I over-pronate—it’s actually “severe” on my right foot—and the app suggests three different stability shoes. (Stability shoes offer real support while neutrals are closer to the ground and best for resistance or cross training.) The app’s number one suggestion is the Nike Lunar Eclipse 4, which has so much built-in support that I feel like I’m two inches above the ground. But I got back on the treadmill wearing its second pick, the Nike Lunar Glide Plus 5, and immediately feel a difference in my gait. They’re actually working—and I like the color (this time, black). Maybe I will start training for that half-marathon after all…

Photo: Andrew White