I love local running stores. Whenever Jess and I travel to somewhere new, she knows a visit to the local running store is in order. I want to see how they lay out their shoes, what brands they have on the wall, and most importantly, how they fit their customers.

I’ve been fortunate to work in three very different, but equally awesome running specialty stores in Kansas City, Denver and now, Boston. Fitting running shoes is an art as much as it is a science.

Buying new running shoes can be a daunting process for some, so I’ve prepared seven different things to know when it’s time to head into your favorite running store to be fit.

1) Set aside time to be properly fit.

Fitting shoes does not take all day, but it is not like going into a DSW, trying on one pair and Voila, you are done! Set aside a good 30-45 minutes to be fit, especially if it is your first time. If you have already been fit in the past, I’ll simply ask you how the old pair of shoes is doing, if you have any aches and pains, and we will jump in from there.

Sure, you have to grab a phone call or head back into the office, but if I can’t take the time to make sure the shoe is the best one for you, it’s not worth coming in.

You want a good pair of shoes, right? Take the time!

2) Let me know if you are having any aches or pains or previous injury.

Go ahead and over share at this point. I’m looking for anything that happens with a direct relation to running or activity. Do your shins hurt? Knee pain? Hip pain? Previous injuries are important as well if it has an impact on your gait.

3) Your friend or blog you read doesn’t know what he or she is talking about.

If you do decide to come in with a friend/spouse/relative, there is a 99% chance they know nothing about shoes outside of what one running blog or Runner’s World Shoe Guide told them. Several times a week, a customer comes in with a friend who has completely misinformed them about shoes and suggested a wrong shoe choice. Now, I do not only have to fit you correctly for shoes, but I have to change your mind about what type of shoe you actually need.

4) Please, please, don’t worry about the color.

Please? Pretty please? Most run specialty shops will have one or maybe two color options for a particular shoe. Sometimes, there is a random color thrown in to complete a full size run.

When I’ve taken 45 minutes to fit you and found you the perfect shoe, only to not buy it because it’s blue and “Blue just doesn’t go with my favorite running top.” I cry a little bit on the inside. I don’t make commission on my sales. I just want you in the best shoe possible.

Other colors do exist and most run speciality will order the shoes if possible. It takes two weeks roughly to get them in, so remember that when thinking if they have to match a specific article of clothing.

I will do my best to get you a color you want, but not at the expense of the level of support or fit.

5) Cushioning is personal preference.

The shoe market is flooded with all types of shoes, touting different amounts and variations of cushioning. Your desired amount of cushioning is a personal preference. Don’t listen to another shoe fitter who tells you differently. More cushioning gives you a softer ride at the expense of ground feel. A less cushioned shoe feels more stable, but it’s a firmer and harder ride. Both have their place in the shoe world.

Each new shoe you buy narrows down your optimal level of cushioning. If you can, buy two shoes with different amounts of cushioning and see where your preference is!

6) Support does not mean what you think it does. You are talking about how the arch fits your arch.

Easily, the biggest comment I get is “This shoe doesn’t have enough support.”

Each running shoe is different. Each human foot is different. Therefore, each foot is going to fit different in each shoe. What you feel is individual to yourself and no one else.

Support in a running shoe should be renamed as correction. Correction is like a set of glasses, you want to set the correction amount perfectly so you can see 20/20. But, you wouldn’t wear contacts lenses and glasses at the same time, right?

If you have a certain type of foot or an injury, I can help suggest a shoe that provides you with the right amount of correction to hopefully help with your problem. Important Note: All shoe fitters and running geeks have their thoughts on correction in shoes, and this isn’t the time to open pandora’s shoe box.

During our initial few minutes and discussion, I’ve determined the type of shoe based on the amount of correction you require. So, you have nothing to worry about with regards to support.

Instead, when you talk about support, you are feeling the arch height and how that particular shoe’s arch aligns with your arch and your foot.

If you were previously in the wrong type of shoe, or you are switching brands, the arch will feel different. As long as there is no pain, you’ll get used to it as you wear the shoe more.

7) The most important question is, “How does this shoe fit?”

Shoe fit. The two words I care about while helping you find the best shoes. When we say fit, I really mean “Does this shoe have the best feeling that YOU look for in a shoe.”

I’ve already put you in the best type of shoe and I’ve brought up a few different models and brands to choose from. Now, it’s your turn.

If you like a more snug, substantial fit, you’ll probably like an Asics, while someone who wants a lighter, less substantial shoe may enjoy the Saucony Ride (that is, if you are neutral). You have your own likes and dislikes. Here is your time to make them known.

Just say what you feel. You might not be able to explain it in technical terms, and that’s ok. I’ll do my best to understand and ask more questions to get at what you are thinking.

The shoe should not feel weird, no aches or pains or anything that leads off with saying “It will probably go away when it breaks in.”

When we’ve answered all of the questions, tried on a few pairs of shoes and you slip on that perfect pair, you’ll know.

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