The Ultimate Guide to Buying Running Shoes—Plus 15 of Our Favorites

Whether you’re just getting started with some short jogs or looking to really go the distance, our handy guide will help you choose the perfect pair of sneakers.

For years, the thinking was that you should select a shoe based on your foot movement. Neutral? Go for neutral runners. Overpronator (feet roll inward)? Look for stability or motion control. Supinator (feet roll outward)? Seek cushion. But new thinking is that you shouldn't lock yourself into these boxes—it really just comes down to comfort. Pair that notion with the tips below to find what works best for you.

Go to an Actual Store
Online shopping is easy, but when you need a shoe that truly performs, hit a specialty running store. This way, "a trained employee can ensure the shoes are right for your gait, consider past injury history, and size you appropriately," says Robert Fay, an Asics merchandising manager. Things to make sure whoever is helping you knows: "average weekly mileage, length of your longest runs, and current injuries," adds Britt Olsen, On's general manager in North America.

RELATED: The New Nike Joyride Flyknit Run Launches Today—Here’s What You Need to Know

Also, as we age, we lose some of the natural "padding" on our feet, which is why Jacqueline Sutera, DPM, a podiatrist at City Podiatry in New York City, suggests that older runners consider more cushioning. The same goes if you carry extra weight. "The heavier you are, the more weight is being carried by your feet and is pushing down on them and your arches," she says.

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Time of Day Matters
In the morning, your feet are at their smallest. So trying on shoes in the a.m. may actually be misleading. Instead, Miguel Cunha, DPM, founder of Gotham Footcare in New York City, recommends shoe shopping in the evening "when gravity has pulled all the fluid down and feet are most swollen." Running speeds this up; your shoes should handle this reaction.

RELATED: Reese Witherspoon Owns So Many Pairs of These Sneakers That She's Constantly Wearing Them

Rethink Your Size
Your everyday shoes may not be the same size as your sneakers. A general rule: "Aim for about a thumb's-width distance from your longest toe to the front of the shoe to account for wiggle room and the swelling that naturally occurs when you run," says Fay. And make sure they are wide enough. Jon Teipen, senior manager of footwear product line management at Brooks Running, says the upper should feel snug but not tight. "If you start to feel tingling or numbness, your shoe is too narrow."

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Forget Breaking In
Shoes should accommodate your feet and not the other way around. Translation: They should feel great right away, says Sutera. And if you do commit to a pair, but after a single jog you notice hot spots, slippage, or general uncomfortableness, give them the boot. FYI: Specialty stores often take back shoes with a few miles on them.

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Do You Need Insoles?
It depends. Regular insoles, which can be purchased over the counter, are for those looking for increased arch support or cushioning. Custom-built ones, or orthotics, alleviate pain and discomfort while maintaining proper body alignment. Made by a podiatrist and often pricey (upwards of $600), they involve taking a foot scan to determine where you need additional support.

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KATE MATHIS Prop styling by Rachel Stickley for
When to Toss
Typically, sneakers last between 300 and 500 miles, though Asics merchandising manager Robert Fay notes that many factors can affect these numbers, including the type of surface you run on, how long your typical run is, your weight, how much time the shoes have to "bounce back" between runs, and the build of the shoe. So you may need to rely on other cues. Wear-and-tear signs that mean it's time for a new pair: crinkled lines through the midsole cushion, loss of comfort (think missing the soft pillow feel), a shoe that easily bends in half, and new aches and pains in the knee or shin.

RELATED: The 5 Best Running Shoes for Plantar Fasciitis

1.Support system: 361-Sensation 4

The 361-Sensation 4 offers mild overpronators just enough support. Also nice: Plush padding along the tongue and heel make this one luxe ride. check out these best nintendo ds emulator for android and pc.

2.Globe-trotter: Enda Iten

You may just find yourself running faster-paced miles in the lightweight and slender Enda Iten, which is named after a Kenyan town that has produced many of the world's fastest marathoners.

3.Race-ready: Altra Kayenta

Tackling a tempo run? Look no further. Fast, short distances are the Altra Kayenta's sweet spot. And the wider toe box (read: adequate toe splay) helps boost stability and power.

4.Function and style: Asics Gel-Nimbus 21

Long-distance durability? Check. Soft cushioning? Check. Cute metallic accent? Check! The Asics Gel-Nimbus 21 proves utility and fashion can coexist.

available at $160

5.Team turbo: New Balance FuelCell Propel

One of New Balance's latest kicks, the FuelCell Propel has springy responsiveness to literally help move you forward.

6.Cruise control: Adidas SolarBoost 19

For its second iteration, the Adidas SolarBoost 19 got a noticeably more breathable upper, making these runners feel less heavy during high mileage.

7.Rush hour: Skechers GOrun Razor 3 Hyper

Gotta love a shoe that tells you right on the upper what it's meant for: speed. The Skechers GOrun Razor 3 Hyper has a resilient and responsive midsole, which is what gives this sneak its power.

8.It takes two: Puma Speed Orbiter

With a combo of two plush midsole foams, the Puma Speed Orbiter feels like you're running on air.

9.Comfort zone: Brooks Revel 3

Although the Brooks Revel 3 boasts a sleeker, less structured silhouette than previous models, it still has the same cushy support that made it a runner fave in the first place.

10.Breathe easy: Newton Fate 5

Airy mesh on the Newton Fate 5 increases breathability while printed overlays keep your foot feeling secure.

11.Happy feet: Nike Joyride Run Flyknit

The sole of the new Nike Joyride Run Flyknit is chock-full of tiny beads, creating cloudlike cushioning that absorbs impact and makes miles much more pleasant.

12.So quick: Hoka One One Rincon

The barely-there, breathable mesh upper contributes to the Hoka One One Rincon's featherlight feel, making it a speedy shoe. Plus, the max cushioning handles robust mileage with ease.

13.Spring forward: On Cloudstratus

The On Cloudstratus finds its footing thanks to a dual-layered, honeycomb-shape midsole that cushions, absorbs impact, and even puts a spring in your step.

14.Totally stable: Saucony Omni ISO 2

A true stability shoe, the hardy Saucony Omni ISO 2 was built to munch on miles without faltering.

15.Smooth operator: Reebok Forever Floatride Energy

Reebok's Forever Floatride Energy utilizes a new type of foam to give you a lighter, snappier trainer that will hold up over long distances.