Whether you’re new to running or are an experienced marathoner, you may be wondering whether buying $200 running shoes is really worth it. Does it really pay to pay more for running shoes?
The answer is: not necessarily. While you definitely want to protect your feet – your most important asset as a runner – and prevent problems like tendonitis and blistering, you don’t have to pay a fortune to do this.
While you probably want to take advantage of some of the technology out there by getting a pair of high-quality running shoes from a reputable company, rather than just picking up a cheap pair of kicks at your local Target, getting the right fit is much more important than paying a lot of money. You can buy the most expensive pair of trainers you find on Amazon, but you’ll just be wasting your money if they don’t fit your feet.
More Expensive Is Not Necessarily Better
As with many things in life, when it comes to running shoes, you get what you pay for, to a certain degree. Unless you can find a killer deal, you probably won’t find a pair of good running shoes for less than about $50. But above the $60-70 range, there are tons of options, and they don’t necessarily get better as they get more expensive.
High-end companies like Nike, Asics, Brooks, and Saucony do spend lots of time and money researching new technologies that make running shoes safer, more supporting, and more efficient. However, you are also paying for a brand name and the look of a shoe in some instances. If you’re just tossing these shoes on before a run, who cares what they look like or what brand name they are from, right?
Why You Should Get Fitted
The key to a good running shoe, then, isn’t the expense. It’s all about the fit.
The American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine used to actually do reviews for popular running and walking shoes to give consumers an idea of which models were the best. But in 2010, they actually discontinued this practice, noting that the process of finding the right athletic shoe for you is much more personal. Now, the AAPSM recommends that athletes visit a reputable athletic shoe retailer who has experience in fitting walking, running, and training shoes to individual athletes.
These days, running is such a popular sport that you can probably find a runner’s store in your area that does fittings like these. Often times, the trained staff will watch you run or take a video of you running on a treadmill. They’ll be able to show you how your ankles roll (pronate) during your running stride. The more your ankles roll in while you’re running, the more supportive your shoe will need to be.
Trained professionals (who are often runners themselves) can also help you find shoes that fit your running style and goals, whether you want to become a distance runner or start sprinting on the treadmill. Plus, they’ll help you try on several types of shoes to see which fit feels best to your feet.
While you’re getting fitted for your running shoes, it’s okay to let the staff know your budget. If you want to spend under $100, speak up. Chances are likely that the store carries at least some shoe models that will work just fine for you and that will fit your price range.
These shoes may simply be older models that use slightly older technology, or they may be from a less well-known brand. As long as you’re getting your shoes fitted at a reputable running store, you’ll always be getting a high-quality running shoe that will work for you.
Budget for Your Running Shoes
While you don’t have to pay a fortune for your running shoes, you will need to replace them often. Running in older shoes is a big cause of injury, since it can put more stress on your joints and feet. Instead of waiting until your shoe is broken-down enough to help you get sore, you should definitely replace your running shoes on a regular basis.
There are a couple of rules of thumb for replacing running shoes. One is that running shoes based on foam or gel padding, which most are these days, need to be replaced every six months or so, even if they haven’t been used all that much. This is because the padding can naturally break down over time. Shoes that are still in good shape can be used for everyday activities, but you probably shouldn’t keep running in shoes that are older than six months old.
But if you’re a serious runner putting real miles on your running shoes each week, more important than dates will be miles. On average, running shoes should be replaced every 300-400 miles. If you’re a smaller person, you can probably run on the same shoes for about 400 miles, but if you’re heavier, consider replacing your shoes every 300 miles.
The best way to figure out how many miles are on your running shoes is to keep a training log. Record when you start using new shoes and how many miles you run. Many runners will buy a second pair of running shoes once the first pair has about 150-200 miles on them.
Alternating shoes to allow each pair to dry completely between runs makes your shoes last longer. Plus, you’ll notice the difference in your old shoes more acutely when you’re doing every other run with a newer pair of shoes.
As you can see, even if you’re able to find cheaper running shoes that fit well, if you run just 25 miles per week, you’re going to go through your running shoes rather quickly. While the last thing you want to do is get into credit card debt over a pair of running shoes, if you manage to pay your bills on time, then consider checking out cash back credit cards to help you earn a bit back.
Of course, once you get started and get into a running routine, you’ll be able to estimate when you need to replace your running shoes just by looking at how many miles you average in a week. Running about 25 miles a week, you’ll need to replace your shoes every 12-16 weeks. That means you can just work the cost of new running shoes into your budget, so when it’s time to replace them, you’re ready to do it!
Choosing the right running shoes is important for the health of your feet and your body in general, and good running shoes can keep you on the road – rather than stuck on the couch with an injury. But by shopping smart, you can find shoes that fit well but don’t necessarily cost a fortune.