(Full disclosure: I do not receive any form of compensation from any shoe companies and never have so my opinions are influenced only by personal experience)
One of the many things about running that excites me is buying new shoes. I feel like the proverbial kid in a candy store or a teenage girl on a shopping bender at the mall. I love trying on new shoes and doing a slow jog up and down store aisles to see if the shoes and my feet are a good match. Today, I went shoe shopping. I tried on eight pairs! I only bought three. 😉 Now, you might be thinking I must have spent a few hundred dollars on these shoes. After all, a quality pair of running shoes has to cost at least $120, right? Not even close. I bargain shop when it comes to shoes and have gotten some great deals on some I have absolutely loved. You can too. I’ll tell you how if you keep reading…hint hint. I also want to talk about how to shop for shoes.
The most important piece of equipment you need to run are shoes. They’re what keep your feet comfortable and protect them from rocks, glass and other debris on the roads and trails. Running in a pair of comfortable shoes will make the entire experience much more manageable and enjoyable. Few things can ruin a run more than uncomfortable or ill-fitting shoes. They can cause blisters and maybe even serious injuries. Not to mention, they’ll create a negative experience for you, decreasing your desire and motivation to hit the road again. I highly recommend you take shoe shopping seriously.
What should you do? Try on as many shoes as you can until you find the right pair for you. There are lots of companies that make quality running shoes. If you don’t know where to start before you physically go out to a store, Runner’s World reviews new shoes every few months. You can read reviews there to see if they will help you make a decision. When you decide to go to shop, please physically go to a store. Do not, and I mean DO NOT, order shoes online unless you have already worn that exact same model. Why? You won’t know for sure if you’ll like the shoe. It may look great and it may have excellent reviews but what if you try it on and it doesn’t feel right? What then? Sure, you can repackage them and mail them back for a refund but what a waste of time and effort. Go to a store and do it the old-fashioned way.
I recommend if you’re new to running shoe shopping, find a local running store or a specific company store like a New Balance store or Nike store. These places will have employees who generally know the products and can better help you find the right pair or pairs for you. If you go to a general sporting goods store for running shoes, the employees usually won’t know much about the shoes so they won’t be much help other than looking in the back to see if your size is available. Running store employees and employees of company-specific stores are trained to help runners. They’ll be able to answer basic questions and can make recommendations based on what you’re looking for or how many miles you run per week.
When you try on a shoe, don’t be shy or self-conscious. Walk around in it and do a light jog in the store. The employees won’t mind. They’ll encourage you to do so. You want to get a sense of how they’re going to feel when you hit the road.
How will you know when you find the right pair? You know when you know. The shoes will just feel right for you. Your feet will say yes. When they do, buy them!
How long will shoes last? The general rule of thumb is that the average pair will last between 300 and 500 miles. In the past, I’ve found it was time to replace shoes if I started to mysteriously feel achy in my feet and legs following a few runs. If I didn’t push myself or run long but felt achy, I knew it was time for new shoes. When I got the new shoes, I wasn’t achy anymore. Common sense says to replace them if the soles are completely worn out or if the material starts falling apart.
Should you get one pair or multiple pairs? If you can afford it, I’d buy at least two pairs and rotate them. This study suggests rotating shoes can reduce injury-risk. Rotating multiple pairs can make the shoes last longer too as you’re reducing the amount of mileage on them each month. Gerard Pescatore, an RRCA certified coach and ABC certified pedorthist writes:
This might sound strange, but running shoes, like our bodies, need time to recover from our miles. Over time, our running shoes lose the ability to absorb shock. As the miles add up, the midsoles become more compressed, which makes the shoe less effective down the road.
Rotating sneakers allows our shoes to “bounce back” and it slows down this compression process. This also helps us get more time (though not necessarily more miles) out of our shoes.
How do you find bargains? The part you were waiting for, I bet. Today, I went to a Skechers Outlet store. I bought three pairs of running shoes for me and one pair of walking shoes for my wife. Skechers Outlet stores usually have shoes on clearance or they have a buy one-and-get one half-price deal. The grand total, including tax, was about $146. Each pair averaged about $37! Yes, I basically bought $37 running shoes that will last me at least a year. Running shoes don’t have to cost $120 to $200 a pair. I’m a big fan of Skechers running shoes. Even Skechers running shoes not at outlet stores are still cheaper than many other brands and offer similar quality, in my opinion. This being said, I have also worn New Balance, Brooks and Puma and have been reasonably satisfied with them.
If you can find a Nike Outlet store, you can probably find good deals on Nike shoes. Other stores such as DSW and Ross (Yes, Ross!) can have good running shoes on the cheap. Sometimes they’ll have sales or you can find pairs in the clearance section. Ross usually has the shoes tied together because they don’t have boxes so you’ll have to try one on at a time and you’ll only be able to walk. I’ve bought a few pairs of shoes from Ross because the deals were so good. I was happy with the choices. I bought a pair of Brooks from DSW for about $40 and still have them. I run in them usually once a week. If you go to these stores, the employees likely won’t know much about running shoes. You’d have to go on your phone and look up reviews.
Shoe buying doesn’t have to be expensive but it does have to be taken seriously. Take time and really make sure the shoes feel right. If they do, don’t hesitate to make that purchase. It’s an investment that will pay off sooner rather than later.
Running With You,