This is a skill gained through the experience of fitting thousands of feet, and from comparing notes with other staff members who are even more experienced.
As you work with the person in the store you need to give feedback as to how the shoe fits and feels. You want the shoe to protect your foot while usually allowing the foot to go through a natural running motion for you. Tell the staff person if there are pressure points or pains—or if it just doesn’t feel right.
Reveal any injuries or foot problems
If you have had recent injuries or chronic joint issues (knee, hip, ankle) you may need a shoe that protects your foot from excess motion.
Don’t try to fix your foot if it isn’t broken.
Even if your foot rolls excessively one way or the other, you don’t necessarily need to get an over-controlling shoe if you don’t have pain or injuries. The leg and foot makes many adjustments and adaptations which keep many runners injury-free—even when they have extreme motion.
Expensive shoes are often not the best for you
The most expensive shoes are usually not the best shoes for your feet. You cannot assume that high price will buy you extra protection or more miles. At the price of some of the shoes, you might expect that they would do the running for you. They won’t.
Go by fit and not the size noted on the box of the shoe.
Most runners wear a running shoe that is sizes larger than their street shoe. For example, I wear a size 10 street shoe but run in a size 12 running model. Be open to getting the best fit—regardless of what size you see on the running shoe box.
Extra room for your toes:
Your foot tends to swell during the day, so it’s best to fit your shoes after noontime. Be sure to stand up in the shoe during the fitting process to measure how much extra room you have in the toe region of the shoe. Pay attention to the length of your feet, and leave at least half an inch.
Running shoes tend to be a bit wider than street shoes.
Usually, the lacing can “snug up” the difference, if your foot is a bit narrower.
The shoe shouldn’t be laced too tight around your foot because the foot swells during running and walking. On hot days, the average runner will move up one-half shoe size.
In general, running shoes are designed to handle a certain amount of “looseness”. But if you are getting blisters when wearing a loose shoe, snug the laces.
Several shoe companies have shoes in various widths.
Shoes for women
Women’s shoes tend to be slightly narrower than those for men, and the heel is usually a bit smaller. The quality of the major running shoe brands is equal whether for men or women. But about 25 percent of women runners have feet that can fit better into men’s shoes. Usually, the confusion comes in women who wear large sizes. The better running stores can help you make a choice in this area.
Breaking in a New Shoe
Wear the new shoe around the house, for a few minutes each day for a week.
In most cases you will find that the shoe feels comfortable enough to run immediately. It is best to continue walking in the shoe, gradually allowing the foot to accommodate to the arch, the heel, the ankle pads, and to make other adjustments. If you run in the shoe too soon, blisters are often the result.
If there are no rubbing issues on the foot when walking, you could walk in the new shoe gradually increasing the time.
On the first run, just run about half a mile in the shoe. Put on your old shoes and continue the run.
On each successive run, increase the time run in the new shoe for three to four runs. At this point, you will usually have the new shoe broken in.
How do you know when it’s time to get a new shoe?
When you have been using a shoe for three to four weeks successfully, buy another pair of exactly the same model, make, size, etc. The reason for this is that the shoe companies often make significant changes or discontinue shoe models (even successful ones) every six to eight months.
Walk around the house in the new shoe for a few days.
After the shoe feels broken in, run the first half mile of one of your weekly runs in the new shoe, then put on the shoe that is already broken in.
On the “shoe break-in” day, gradually run a little more in the new shoe. Continue to do this only one day a week.
Several weeks later you will notice that the new shoe offers more bounce than the old one.
When the old shoe doesn’t offer the support you need, shift to the new pair.
Start breaking in a third pair.