Can’t Decide Whether to Buy Running Shoes Online or In-Store? Here’s What You Need to Know


Can’t decide whether to buy running shoes online or in-store? Take these six steps (shoe pun intended) to ensure you’re getting the right fit.

Confession time: Remember when you used to go to any big box retailer to get a running shoe that sort of fit but mainly it just looked good? It’s okay. I did it, too. I bought cheap shoes that looked pretty good and, without fail, I ended up with blisters, bloodied socks and injuries. Ughhhh. Silly younger me. And maybe silly younger you, too.

This silliness can be likened to a mistake that many of us still make. We buy running shoes we know nothing about without trying them on because our friends recommended them. That’s like buying a car you’ve never seen, stepped in or test-driven online. It’s going to lead to a bad time.

Here’s what you need to do – and know – before buying running shoes online or in-store:

#1 Get Your Gait, Arch or Tendency to Pronate Analyzed

Can you answer the following questions?

  • Are you an underpronator, overpronator or neutral pronator?
  • Do you have a high, medium (normal) or low (flat) arch?
  • When standing straight, do your legs angle out, straight, or in?
  • Do you have any aches and pains? If so, where are they?

In order to accurately assess and understand the answers to all four questions, you’ll need to get your gait analyzed. This process entails visiting your your local running store, hopping on a treadmill and having a fit expert videotape your gait while you’re running or walking. This free assessment tells you what kind of pronator you are, what arch type you have, whether you need wide or regular shoes and more. With this information – and the information you provide to your fit expert about your training needs, aches and pains, etc, – you’ll then be able to be fitted with a shoe that truly meets your needs.

The right shoe for your needs is essential because the wrong shoe can cause injury

#2 Make Sure your shoe will actually fit

When you’re not sure what shoe works for you, you’re probably going to seek recommendations from friends. Perhaps one of your friends likes minimalist shoes while another swears by stability shoes. While these shoes work for them, remember, you are unique (mom was right). You need to consider the very individual aspects of your foot and what it needs, including: 

  • Your heel-to-toe length
  • Your forefoot width
  • The heel fit of your desired shoe
  • The cushion and support your foot needs

#3 Get the Right Shoe for Your ACTIVITY of choice

Your running shoe isn’t your training shoe isn’t your hiking shoe isn’t your trail shoe isn’t your doing-it-for-the-Instagram shoe. All shoes are made with different purposes in mind. Which means their fit and feel will vary.

#4 Enlist help because options can be Overwhelming!

Too many options can be overwhelming. And if you’re like me and decision-making is not your forte, having an expert to help you find a shoe that’s right for your feet and training needs is amazing. And, if you’re just a mess of questions (also me) it’s nice to have someone on hand to help answer any and every question you have. Road Runner’s in-store fit experts are pros at helping indecisive people find what they’re looking for.

#5 Choose socks and insoles that complement your Shoe Choice

It’s the worst when socks bunch up. But it’s extra ridiculous when they cause blisters or make you feel like you’re running through a swamp because they have ZERO breath-ability. The pits, right? It’s also a bummer when you buy running shoes that you later realize are great, but because you over-pronate, have high arches and you’re a high-mileage runner, you need extra support from insoles. All the more reason to make sure your socks work with the running shoes you’re buying and that, if you need extra support, you have custom insoles (not just insoles, but custom ones) to support your feet.

#6 Embrace – and expect – CONVENIENCE

I’m a millennial and my people are not known for patience. Agreed, it’s a total virtue, but when you want to start running, like, YESTERDAY you don’t want to wait for your shoes. So embrace your inner millennial and reap the benefits of snagging your favorite shoes in-store ASAP (after you’ve ensured they’re right for you, of course).


Author bio: Sam is a runner who loves hills – really. She’s a fan of taking #photoswhilerunning, spending time in nature with her husband and loving on any and all animals, especially her cat. Her other passions include social media (she’s the social media manager at Road Runner Sports) and content marketing. Follow her on Twitter at @SamKerstetter and Instagram at @shosenka7.


4 thoughts on “Can’t Decide Whether to Buy Running Shoes Online or In-Store? Here’s What You Need to Know

  1. stuart says:

    I have run for 35/40 years and just buy good sale shoes! Yes I over-pronate but will go through a pair in 2 months………… I change my runner shoes daily and they last longer!!!!!!!!!!

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