Why It's Better to Buy Running Shoes at a Specialty Store

New kicks make me happy. And I'm even more happy when I know I'm buying just the right pair for my feet type and running habits. I'm notorious for purchasing all of my shoes online, and after receiving a pair a few weeks ago in the mail — a high-end pair that received rave reviews online — I thought I'd be all set for another year.

After wearing the shoes around the house, something seemed a bit off. My heel was slipping — even though I knew I couldn't go bigger or smaller in size — and they just felt heavy and awkward. So when a friend recommended that I go to a specialty running shoe store, I shipped them back and off I went.

From the moment I entered the store, I was greeted by a gentleman who was outfitted in neon running shoes and athletic wear — certainly looking the part, which I liked. I told him that I needed some new running shoes, explained my running style, and from there he measured my feet (who knew my right foot was a half size bigger than my left?!), looked at the height of my arches, and then had me walk around the store in my socks to see if I was overpronating (my foot rolls inward when I walk), or if I was supinating (it rolls outward instead). In total, he took down information about my foot type, normal running distance, past and current injuries, pronation, foot length, and instep height.

He made some shoe suggestions and brought out a few pairs for me to try on. I liked the fact that he didn't push the flashy shoes with all the bells and whistles on me; instead, he showed me some styles that were reasonably priced (the same price as online!) and explained why he selected the ones he did.

With each pair, he asked that I walk around the store and tell him my initial thoughts as soon as I put the shoe on and explain what I loved and what I hated. Naturally I asked him a million questions, and he cheerfully answered. He even watched as I ran outside wearing my favorite choices. My final selection was an easy decision, and I was fully satisfied with my purchase.

The entire experience was pleasant and personal, and I left the store with a pair of running shoes that I would have never purchased without the help from a professional, expert runner. Both the brand and the style were something I would have steered clear from previously, but I'm so happy I stepped outside of my running shoe box — and stepped away from all my online stores!