Do you have a high or a normal arch, or are you flat-footed?
To determine your foot's arch type, try a simple wet test. (Go to runnersworld.com for a video demo.) All you need is a paper bag and a shallow pan filled with water. Lay the paper bag on the ground. Dip your foot in the pan of water, and step onto the bag. If possible, take a stride as if you are running, Brooker suggests.
Then study the wet footprint on the bag. According to runnersworld.com, if you see a footprint with only your heel and the ball of your foot showing, you have a high arch. If you see about half of your arch in the footprint, you have a normal arch. If you see a good portion of your footprint, you are flat-footed.
A person with a high arch will most likely benefit from a cushioned or neutral shoe. Most normally arched feet benefit from stability shoes. Flat feet will most likely benefit from motion-control shoes.
Identify your gait. Do you over-rotate your foot inward (pronation) when you take a step?
Determine your gait by examining the heels of a pair of frequently worn shoes. If the heels are fairly straight and tall, you most likely do not overpronate. If the heels are worn down on the inside part of your shoe, you are probably an overpronator and may benefit from motion-control shoes.
Overpronators may want to consider using insoles or orthotics to properly align their feet. Over-the-counter inserts are available at drugstores and specialty running shops. See a podiatrist or a physical therapist for a prescription orthotic.
Will you be running on a track, road, trail or treadmill? Is your running terrain soft, hard, frozen, or uneven? Off-road runners need a rugged shoe that provides traction and weather -resistance. Consider a trail shoe.
Are you looking to run races? Will you be doing speed work? If you have an efficient stride and are injury free, you may want a performance-training shoe or a lightweight-racing shoe.
Do you have a narrow foot? Are you a heavy runner? What is your gender? All these factors should be considered when shopping for a shoe.
Once you know your arch type, gait and other factors, go to runnersworld.com and use the "Running Shoe Finder." Enter your information and get a list of the best shoes for you. You can also read reviews of various shoes.
Or check out your local runner's store. Visit with their trained staff, and have them take a look at your feet, your gait and your body size. They'll take into account your running needs. That's what they are trained to do.