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Running Shoe Essentials: Common Shoe-Buying Mistakes

Written by Fiona November 28 2012

This guest blog is poignant. I desperately need new running trainers but just haven’t had the time to visit a shop (I never buy road running trainers on-line for all the reasons stated below). Also, if you were thinking of buying your loved one a pair of running trainers for Christmas ,you’d be better getting them a voucher so they can choose their own.

What not to do when buying running shoes

We’ve all been there. You think you’ve found the perfect shoe – they look great, they feel great. Sure, they feel great in the store, but after a few miles pounding the pavement your feet are telling you a different story. Getting the right fit is essential if you’re serious about taking up running, and it’s easy when you know how. Avoid these top five common mistakes that runners make when they step into the shoe store – and your feet will thank you.

Sizing up

A lot of footwear customers don’t realise just how much shoe sizing can vary from brand to brand, and even from model to model. Different materials, shoe lasts and construction mean that running shoes can vary surprisingly, even across a single brand. Assuming that your size 6 feet are going to fit perfectly into all size 6 running shoes is a mistake. Never buy running shoes based on the shoe size alone – always try before you buy – and try to do your shoe shopping in the evening, as your feet swell up throughout the day and you want to find a shoe that fits your feet at their biggest.

Room for improvement

When we run, our feet swell. That means that our running shoes need to give our feet some room to breathe. One of the biggest mistakes customers make on running shoe purchases is mistaking a tight fit for a snug fit. After a few miles of repetitive strides, too-tight running shoes inevitably lead to black toenails and blisters that can put you out of action for weeks. When you’re trying on running shoes, you should have a thumb-width gap between your longest toe and the end of the shoe, and should be able to pinch a little upper material at either side of the widest part of the shoe too.


Getting the right fit for you feet is far more important than looks. If you’re serious about running, you need serious footwear that’s going to give you the comfort and support that you need, preventing injury. You want to be spending your time hitting that pavement, track or trail, not your GPs’ surgery. When it comes to running shoes, looks aren’t important, so forget fashion rules and pay attention to what your feet are telling you, not the latest style mag.

Value for money

Serious running shoes don’t come cheap, but too often customers are unaware that they could be eligible for a discount. If you’re shopping online, JD Sports offers free delivery discount on orders over £50. Most specialist running stores also offer discounts for running club members. Before you pay up at the till, always ask the sales assistant if they offer discounts to local clubs – it could save you 10 to 20%.

Come equipped

If you wear orthotics, or custom footbeds, take them with you to the store when you’re going to test run a new pair of shoes. When you’re trying on shoes, you should wear running socks too – you want to get a realistic feel for how these shoes are going to fit you when you’re out on the road, track or trail, so come equipped.

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