Shoes are the only pieces of gear runners are allowed to obsess about. It's essential to get fitted at a specialty running store, where the staff can analyze your gait to make sure you're getting enough support for your foot strike. (Find a store close to you at runningnetwork.com.) But have a plan going in. Start by getting your feet wet and stepping on some pavement. Using your footprint and this guide, you can figure out what type of shoe you probably need.
1. Motion-Control Shoe
You have flat arches and probably pronate heavily (roll your foot inward) when you stride. You need a shoe with severe pronation control, like BROOKS'S BEAST ($120), which has a wide base and hard foam on the medial midsole (inner heel) to keep your foot from rolling inward.
2. Stability Shoe
You have a normal arch. You probably pronate slightly (roll your foot inward when you stride). You should look for a shoe with light or moderate pronation control, like ASICS's GT-2130 ($95), which uses a block of higher-density foam to stabilize your inner heel.
3. Neutral/Cushioning Shoe
You have high arches. You probably don't roll your foot when you run. If anything, you underpronate (roll outward). You should look for a soft, shock-absorbing shoe, like SAUCONY'S PROGRID TRIUMPH 5 ($120), which has foam of the same density on all sides of your heel.