How to Choose a Pair of Running Shoes

Dr Derek Li has over 100 pairs of running shoes and regularly contributes shoe reviews to

In this feature, he shares his tips on how to choose a pair, broken down into two parts:

  1. How to choose a pair
  2. How to determine your fit

How to Choose a Pair of Running Shoes

To summarise, there are three main things to consider when selecting a running shoe:

  1. How much cushioning you need
  2. How much grip you need
  3. How much stability you need


Training shoes tend to have more cushioning than racing shoes and they are used for longer runs, easy runs, and recovery runs.

Racing shoes, which has less cushioning, are lighter and more often used for speed workouts and races.

The first step in choosing a pair of shoes is determining how much cushioning you need.


How much grip you need depends on the surface you’ll be running on.

For example, if you’re running on the track, you’ll need less grip than on the road or on the trail.

More grip, however, isn’t always better.

Rubber outsoles, which provides grip, weighs more than typical foam and gives the shoe a harsher feel under your feet.

That said, having more rubber also means the shoe will be more durable.

The second step in choosing a pair of shoes is determining how much grip you need.


Stability shoes provide runners with support every single step. To determine if you need stability shoes, start off with trying out neutral shoes.

This is because you’ll run the way you’d naturally run in a pair of neutral shoes, and hence a good baseline.

If it doesn’t work for you, e.g. you start developing injuries, try out a pair of stability shoes. Stability shoes help with people who overpronate and it might be your solution.

Determining if you need stability shoe is the last step in choosing a pair of running shoes.

How to Determine Size

Your running shoe should typically be:

  1. Half to full size larger than your dress shoe
  2. Locking your foot at the ankle and the middle of your foot
  3. Not jamming any of your toes

Your foot expands slightly with every step, and this is exaggerated because there’s more impact on each step when you run compared to walking.

Hence, you’ll need more space in your running shoe than in your dress shoe.

Although the larger size might take some getting used to, there’s typically no loss of efficiency when your toes can splay in your running shoe.

Racing shoes are also slightly snugger than training shoes of the same size by the same brand, and it’s meant to be that way to help you run faster in them.