How to Choose the Right Pair of Running Shoes

Many people think that you can simply slap on any ol’ pair of sneakers and start running - but if you’ve tested this theory out, then you know it’s not the case! Running is just like any sport that requires specialized equipment, and running shoes are made very differently than footwear designed for more casual purposes. So if you are new to running, or are picking it up again after a long hiatus, how do you choose the right pair of running shoes from the plethora of options out there? That’s what our BlackToe Running experts are here to help you with today!

What Makes Running Shoes so Special?

Runner outside in Toronto in a blacktoe tshirt

Let’s take a quick look into what makes running shoes unique, and why it’s important to get a pair of running-specific shoes before you start your journey. Running shoes are made with specialized materials that are designed to provide support, cushion and durability during high-impact events, such as running.

Running shoe manufacturers spend a great deal of time researching and testing the impacts of running on the body, and create shoes that offer solutions for all different types of runners. This can include wide ranges of support, stability, cushioning, toe box shape, drop (the height difference between the heel and toe of a shoe), flexibility and so much more. Not all sneakers are meant to log long miles, and investing in a shoe that’s specifically designed for running will start you off on the right foot!

Neutral, Stability, Cushion - Oh My! What Shoe is Right for Me?

New balance running shoes

To start, we always recommend  booking a running shoe assessment with one of our BlackToe Running experts! We’ll talk about your running goals and any previous injuries, and look at things like the shape of your foot, alignment and stride to give you a clear idea of which type of shoe will best suit your needs. Once we narrow down which shoes will work best for you as a runner, we’ll get to work finding the right model in terms of comfort, fit, style and price.

Are you just looking to test the waters and learn about running shoes? No problem! We’re always happy to perform an assessment - they’re free! - and provide some general guidelines to help you choose the right pair of shoes in the future, such as:

    • Neutral Shoes:  neutral cushion shoes work for the majority of runners, and can suit everyone from beginners to advanced distance runners. We can walk you through the different levels of support and cushion that each brand features across their lineup.
    • Stability Shoes: for those who over-pronate, a pair of  stability shoes  can help with alignment, and generally make running a more comfortable experience. Our team can identify varying levels of pronation, and suggest shoes that will help correct your specific stride.
    • Arch Support: whether you have low or high arches, we know which brands and models are more likely to offer the arch support you need to help keep your muscles supported for both short and long term comfort.
    • Cushioning: cushioning is not a “one size fits all” feature, and each brand creates many levels of cushioning across their model lineup. We’ll steer you in the right direction in terms of how much cushioning should work for you, and recommend models that have the right level of cushioning for your needs.
    • Performance Shoes: sure, you're a beginner runner now, but before long you might catch that runner’s bug and start chasing PB’s! We’re here to help you transition to the next step of your running journey whenever you’re ready, and can recommend performance-based running shoes that will compliment your training program.

OK, OK, but What is the “BEST”  Shoe on the Market?

We get asked this a lot, and our answer is always the same: there is no single “best” shoe - only the best shoe for a specific runner. Everyone’s needs are too different to ever determine one shoe as being superior to all others. Sure, there are plenty of favourites out there - but they don’t work for everyone!

Letting go of expectations about buying the “best” shoe and being open to the possibilities of how the “best shoe for you” can impact your running experience will give you a far bigger boost in performance than following the trends. We carry dozens of models from all of  the most popular shoe brands in the biz, including Nike, ASICS, New Balance, Saucony, Hoka, ON, Adidas, and more, so we truly have something for every runner.

I’m Ready to Find my Perfect Pair of Running Shoes!

We can’t wait to help you! You can  book a personalized virtual running shoe assessment online, or stop by our  Toronto location for an in-person assessment. Whether you’re using our state-of-the-art assessment tools in-store (you won’t find this equipment anywhere else in the GTA!) or prefer to take advantage of our staff’s experience and knowledge during a virtual assessment, we’ll help you find the right shoes for your needs. Don’t hesitate to  reach out to one of our BlackToe Running team members to learn more about picking the best running shoes for you!