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Whether you are thinking about signing up for your first 5K or are gearing up for a full marathon, the first two steps in your training are the same.

First, sign up for the race! Next, get a good pair of running shoes.

You may think that pair gathering dust in your closet will do the trick, but running in worn shoes will provide poor support for your feet and could lead to injuries down the road. As part of TODAY's "Run for TODAY" series, running experts are sharing what you can expect as you gear up to buy a new pair of kicks.

1. Foot inspection

The first step (pun!) will involve the shoe expert inspecting your foot as you walk back and forth.

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“We need to look at your foot, to gage your arch, whether it’s high or low,” John Honerkamp, a running coach for New York Road Runners, told TODAY. “And also look at the width of your foot.”

Doing so will indicate whether you’re a neutral runner — someone whose foot remains balanced through each stride — or could use help maintaining stability.

2. Hop on a treadmill

Before you start picking out shoes, the running store should have you hop on a treadmill to inspect the bio-mechanics of your gait. In other words, the employee needs to see how you run.

“We will have you walk or run to see if you pronate in or out,” MJ Jimenez, a shoe expert from New York Running Company, said. Pronation occurs when your foot rotates to distribute the impact made with each step. If you are over-or-under-pronating, the employee will be able to suggest specific shoes or inserts to help correct that.

3. Select a shoe

Once you and the employee know what type of shoe you need, it’s finally time to pick the actual shoe. Expect to hop on the treadmill again to run in a few options until you find the pair that fits you just right.

4. See you next year

Now lace up those shoes and get running! But don’t get too attached. Jonerkamp recommends swapping out your shoes every 300 to 500 miles or six to 12 months, depending on what comes first.

Running shoes can be an investment, put the time and effort into selecting the right pair — and be sure to choose a store that is willing to put in the same time and effort as well.

This article was originally published Feb. 28, 2015 at 7:52 a.m. ET.