Get the Finder app 🥳

Track your credit score

Free

Running shoe buying guide: How to choose the best shoes for your next run

We'll help you find the perfect running shoes for any type of run.

Updated

Fact checked
Female jogger running with dog on leash

We’re committed to our readers and editorial independence. We don’t compare all products in the market and may receive compensation when we refer you to our partners, but this does not influence our opinions or reviews. Learn more about Finder.

Quick facts about running shoes:

  • Because running shoes are specifically designed for comfort and performance, the right pair of shoes can help you improve your run times, avoid blisters and prevent injury.
  • The best running shoes for you will have just the right amount of support, cushion and weight.
  • High-quality shoes are typically more durable than budget shoes, but you don't necessarily need to shell out hundreds of dollars for a shoe that will support you comfortably.

Types of running shoes

There are several general types of running shoe, each designed for different environments. Consider where you will be wearing your new trainers. If you are a complete novice and aren't sure yet how you'll be using your new kicks, check out our beginner's guide to running.

TypeDescriptionDesigned for
Road runningLight and flexible with cushion and stability for hard surfaces.Running on pavement and packed surfaces.
Trail runningAdditional tread offers more traction and stability for uneven surfaces.Off-road running on uneven surfaces such as mud, rocks and gravel.
Cross-trainingGives you more contact with the ground for added balance.Balance-based gym or CrossFit workouts.
Barefoot/minimalist runningMakes the mid-foot hit the ground first, as it does not have the elevated cushion of traditional trainers that causes the heel to strike first.Those who pronate and those who prefer a more natural running style.

Pronation types

You can also compare different categories of running shoes based on cushioning, control and stability. Each type is designed to correct or complement one of three pronation types: overpronation, neutral pronation or underpronation.

  • Overpronation. An exaggeration of the inward rolling of the foot. Overpronation can lead to knee injury if left uncorrected.
  • Neutral pronation. When the foot does not excessively roll inwards or outwards.
  • Underpronation or supination. An exaggerated outward rolling of the foot. Those who underpronate need shoes with additional cushioning as they land on the outside edge of the foot, causing more pressure on the leg. Underpronation is less common than overpronation.

Now that you're more aware of how you run or walk, check out the best types of running shoes for your pronation type:

TypeBest forFeatures
Maximum support or motion control shoes
  • Overpronators
  • Severe overpronators
  • Offers the most support and control
  • Designed to reduce overpronation
  • Often includes more dense materials on the inner sole to stop the foot and heel from rolling as much
Stability or structured cushion shoes
  • Neutral pronators
  • Mild overpronators
  • Offers a blend of control and cushioning
  • Lighter than maximum support shoes
  • The most popular type of running shoe
Cushioned shoes or neutral trainers
  • Underpronators or supinators
  • Neutral pronators
  • Does not provide motion control
  • Lightweight
  • Soft
  • Generally, not ideal for those who are overweight are obese

Cost

A higher price tag does not necessarily indicate a better shoe. However, most reputable running brands have a starting price of around $100 for a pair of running shoes. You can find mid-range shoes for between $150 and $200, and high-end shoes for $250 or more.

If you're looking to save on a name brand, check out last year's version of the shoe you like for a lower price. Typically, there aren't huge changes between versions, but it's still important to try on the exact version you are purchasing. If you are shopping online, check the returns policy before making a purchase so that you won't get stuck with a pair of ill-fitting shoes.

When should I replace my running shoes?

When to replace your shoes is a personal choice. Some runners throw out their shoes when they no longer feel comfortable or develop a bad odour, while others prefer to upgrade regularly to shoes with the newest technology. Ultimately, the decision is up to you.

Most manufacturers recommend that running shoes will last around 500km to 800km. Lightweight shoes often wear out sooner around 400km to 500km, while more durable models can last 800 km or more. However, some people find their shoes last 1,500km or more before they wear out. If you want to keep track of the kilometres logged in your runners, apps such as Strava and Runkeeper do all the hard work for you and even send you alerts when it's time to consider a new pair of shoes.

How to compare running shoes

Once you've considered the different types of running shoes, the most important thing to look at is the fit. For more tips, check out our guide on how to choose running shoes.

Fit

Ill-fitting shoes can cause blisters and injuries to even the most experienced runners. To find the perfect fit, make sure to leave a bit of space, usually about half a centimetre, at the big toe to allow your foot to swell as you warm up. Also, make sure your heel does not slip out of the shoe as you walk or run. You shouldn't have to tie the laces too tight to keep the shoe on your foot. The laces should be tight enough to feel secure, but not so tight as to cut off circulation. If you have wide feet, look for shoes that come in wider sizes. This is often designated with a letter D or 2E in women's shoes and 2E or 4E in men's shoes.

Socks

Make sure to try on any potential running shoes with socks. There's a wide range of socks made specifically to go with running shoes, from just a few dollars per pair up to $25 per pair or more. Socks can help make your shoes feel more comfortable, add additional cushioning, reduce friction and prevent moisture build-up.

Breathability

If you live in a hot environment, look for shoes with a mesh upper material for maximum breathability. If you live in a cold environment or run during winter, a less-breathable, more insulating shoe would probably be a better choice. If you frequently run in wet conditions, consider a shoe that is water-resistant or waterproof.

Weight

Lightweight shoes usually have less cushioning. While it might be tempting to choose the lightest shoes available, you may find they won't provide the necessary cushioning for longer runs or hard surfaces. Consider the type of running you'll be doing and make a decision accordingly.

Rotating pairs

Some serious runners get two or more pairs of shoes and rotate them, making both pairs last longer. You can choose two different styles for different uses or matching pairs that wear out at the same rate so you can swap them out on your daily runs. This is especially useful if you're training for a marathon so that you don't have to buy a new pair just before the race.

More guides on Finder

Ask an Expert

You are about to post a question on finder.com.au:

  • Do not enter personal information (eg. surname, phone number, bank details) as your question will be made public
  • finder.com.au is a financial comparison and information service, not a bank or product provider
  • We cannot provide you with personal advice or recommendations
  • Your answer might already be waiting – check previous questions below to see if yours has already been asked

Finder only provides general advice and factual information, so consider your own circumstances, or seek advice before you decide to act on our content. By submitting a question, you're accepting our Terms of Use, Disclaimer & Privacy Policy and Privacy & Cookies Policy.
Go to site