Road-Running Shoes Learning Curve

IN THE STORE Unless you're purchasing the same model you always have (and even if you are), you're smart to put running shoes through their paces before pulling out your plastic. Runners have very different gaits, and each shoe fits that gait differently. Your best bet is to visit a treadmill-equipped specialty running store.

IN THE FIELD Expect drier feet. More and more running shoes feature breathable mesh uppers, with excellent results. And the more mesh the better, as far as we're concerned. Shoes constructed this way dry and expel water faster in damp conditions, and really do move air in hot weather.

IN THE FUTURE Athlete cobblers will continue seeking creative ways to strike a balance between cushioning and stability, as Nike has done with the Free 5.0. Shoes with dual-density midsoles—softer on the outside, more support on the inside—are the best combination for the majority of us, who overpronate (roll our feet inward) when we run.

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