Running is the most bang-for-your-buck workout in the known universe (possible not-yet-invented exception: space running).  You don’t need a gym membership or a fancy machine.  You barely need to wear shoes, in fact.  But, if you’re going to wear them, here’s how to choose some speedy ones.

1. Determine Your Foot Type
There are three types of feet:  high, mid, and low arched feet.  Low feet are also called “flat footed,” mid-arched feet are the most common, and high-arched feet never got a cool nickname so they’re called “high-arched.”  If you can’t tell what you are, you can get your foot wet and then step on a piece of paper.  The bigger your footprint, the lower arch you have.  The reason behind these footprints is the degree of pronation.  You can read more about that here, if you want, but it’s not necessary to know to get a good fit.

For high-arched feet, you want a flexible shoe that allows the maximum amount of foot movement.  Low arched feet require the opposite – motion control/stability control shoes. Neutral arches can wear just about anything they like. 

2. Get Thee to a Runnery
If you’re taking your running seriously (you should even if you’re not putting in tons of miles) you’ll want to go to a running-specific store.  There, 9 times out of 10 the sales staff will be able to look at the way your foot hits the ground and suggest shoes that best fit your stride.  Without a substantial background in running, this is pretty difficult do to at home.  Best to leave this one to the pros.

3. Determine the Fit
A running shoe won’t fit like your other shoes.  It should be snug, but not too tight.  You need to be able to wiggle your toes, but not move your heel.  You should try on at least three different pairs that your salesperson suggests and actually run in them.  Take a lap around the food court or the parking lot – anywhere you can open up your stride and see what they really run like.  If you’re unsure which size to get when you’ve narrowed it down, get a slightly larger size as too-small shoes will surely injure you.