from another newbee...I.
'm a tubby, out of shape, middle aged guy, who struggles to run 5-10K distances still after 5 years of running. I have refused to drop weight and I pound my shoes at a weight of about 250 lbs. That will test anyones feet and highlight the importance of good running soes. Gone through alot of shoes....some thoughts came to me reading your question...
...there truely are differences between shoe brands...some good for you...some bad
...there truely are differences between that $40 vs. $120 running shoe...doesn't mean the diff is worth it to you....depends on your needs
...there turely are differences between that trail/jogging shoe and that street/running shoe
So what to do? Personally, I think the only way to go is to try 'em all out. If you're new coming into the store....start at a store with many brands....I'd suggest all the major brands....if your store doesn't have that selection....leave and travel if necessary to find a store that does have that selection. I had to drive 100 miles to such a store.
Next, get a salesperson who actually runs, and is honest....who'll give an honest eval of each shoes pro and con. There is no such thing as a shoe that is "perfect" or "bad". One runners garbage is another runners gem. You need a knowledgable salesperson to work with you...not one pushing a certain brand just for a commision. You need to try on several brands at first. Hopefully the store will give you a little time in them. But....the real true test will require you to go out and run in them....then pass judgement aftrer several runs. Have they stretched? Are you blistering? Most important...do your feet hurt?
You will find subtle or not so subtle differences in heel grip, slippage, cushioning, weight, toe-box space. Unfortunatly, you will really only get a handle on this stuff after trial and error. Be prepared to buy a shoe that does not work for you. Be prepared to walk away from it after you learn why you don't like it (sell it on eBay), and then go and get a better shoe.
After you find your gem....(for me it was Sauconny Hurricanes, I like the wide toe-box).....then you no longer need to travel...you can buy your shoe discount on-line anywhere in the world.
Your shoe will be caput, and shot for comfort, long before the shoe appears to have physicaly worn. When your feet start hurting, get another pair. If you run regularly....you might buy several pair/year...never said this was cheap! I get about 300 miles....sometimes less.
So that's my opinion....no easy way to learn other than trial and error. Don't get hungup on a "brand"...whatever works and the mileage/duration it lasts for the dollar you invested...that's what it's about IMO.