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Confessions of a Cheap-Ass Shoe Buyer

posted almost 7 years ago | Report

I'll admit, I'm a tightwad when it comes to shoes. I don't recall ever paying more than $40 for shoes. Any shoes. (My wife makes up for my frugality, but I digress)

My usual method of buying shoes: Enter store. Head directly to Clearance Rack. If nothing there, browse aisles for $29 or $39 shoes (which is usually the snore-bore white Reeboks or Avias or some other shoe which could probably get me banned from DM.)

Currently I run (and live) in my well-weathered Adidas. They're comfortable and I haven't had any foot problems with them.

Fast forward to yesterday. Walked into a speciality running store. Tried on a pair of Brooks Adrenaline CTS 11. Fell in love. Then heard they were $100. Yikes. Blows my $40 rule out of the water.

So question is, are specialty running shoes really worth the price -- Am I going to notice a difference on short runs, long runs, and race performance? Or should I stick with my ol' everyday Adidas?

(This is the part where you tell me that I must have the new shoes so I can erase any guilt)

Just wondering. Thanks
Steve

36 posts

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  • I used to be the SAME way. I totally did not see the point in those $100 shoes...if the $30 ones from Target could get the job done.

    Then...injury struck. And I blame the cheap junk shoes from Target for not having great stability, and went right out an bought 3 new pairs of $100 shoes. And now, 200 miles, one half marathon and 4 rainstorms later- both pairs are done...but I just can't bring myself to go get the $100 New Balance Minimus or Vibrams that I really, really want...

    posted almost 7 years ago

  • When I started running 16 years ago, the only shoes I wore were Chucky T's (converse). I would run about 20 miles a week in those, plus they doubled as my everyday shoes. Never had a problem. :) Then I started racing & moved on to *gulp* $130 shoes. The difference I noticed was I had a little less aching in my muscles & joints with the running shoes. I felt I recovered a little faster for the next day. I did get a pair of nike shocks once that just about killed my ankles, knees & hips. Got rid of them after only 3 weeks. I love my Asics Gel-Kayano 15, & Brooks Adrenaline GTS 11. I also still love my converse. You are the laboratory. Have fun experimenting. :)

    posted almost 7 years ago

  • It's interesting that you don't seem to be having any problems with your current shoes... I've tried exercising (including some running) in shoes that don't have proper support for my feet and wow does that hurt (I also have no arches...) my feet cramp and hurt and I'm generally miserable. So my running shoes are a must... if you're not having problems then maybe you don't need them.

    However, if you're a new runner, you probably aren't doing enough to warrant the need for new shoes... yet. In that case, I'd buy the new shoes. Especially if you fell in love with them.

    Either way, if you love the shoes and they're comfortable, why not get them? At worst you have really good quality, will last for quite a while comfortable proper shoes that could prevent injury!

    posted almost 7 years ago

  • I used to get all of my running shoes from the Nike outlet. I pretended that since they were Nike running shoes, it was OK to only spend $30-50 on a pair. But one pair started giving me an unbearable pain in my arch of one foot. I had no idea it was my shoes until someone told me I should check out a specialty store to get their opinion. They put me in a pair of Sauconys that were amazing, and of course, $110. I wore those out after a year & found the exact same pair on Amazon for $50...and they are still amazing. My suggestion... have a specialty store fit you & buy the first pair from them, and if they are still awesome later, try to find it cheaper somewhere! :)

    posted almost 7 years ago

  • in reply to what Katherine T. said:It's interesting that you don't seem to be having any problems with your current shoes... I've tried exercising (including some running) in shoes that don't have proper support for my feet and wow does that hurt (I also have no... read more

    Thanks Katherine!
    The guy at the shoe store analyzed my feet, my stance, my walk and run. He said that I was a neutral and that the shoe I was wearing was also a neutral. The only difference is that he thought I might need a wide to give a little more room.

    Plus, the fact that I'm only running 3 or 4 miles at a time, not really putting in a ton of miles yet. I think with my next freelance job, I'll reward myself with the new shoes.

    thanks.
    Steve

    posted almost 7 years ago

  • in reply to what Rebecca M. said:I used to get all of my running shoes from the Nike outlet. I pretended that since they were Nike running shoes, it was OK to only spend $30-50 on a pair. But one pair started giving me an unbearable pain in my arch of one foot. I had no idea it w... read more

    Great idea Rebecca!
    I have a pair of screamin' red Nikes that my family calls my "Spiderman shoes" -- I got those for next to nothing. I've tried to run in them a couple of times and my ankles hate them.

    Now that I got measured and know what I'm looking for, I think I will consider buying from runningwarehouse.com or elsewhere online.
    Thanks

    posted almost 7 years ago

  • in reply to what Rebecca M. said:I used to get all of my running shoes from the Nike outlet. I pretended that since they were Nike running shoes, it was OK to only spend $30-50 on a pair. But one pair started giving me an unbearable pain in my arch of one foot. I had no idea it w... read more

    Great idea Rebecca!
    I have a pair of screamin' red Nikes that my family calls my "Spiderman shoes" -- I got those for next to nothing. I've tried to run in them a couple of times and my ankles hate them.

    Now that I got measured and know what I'm looking for, I think I will consider buying from runningwarehouse.com or elsewhere online.
    Thanks

    posted almost 7 years ago

  • I've got two thoughts - keep in mind I'm still fairly new to this running thing (but been around in the group fitness world for a while) and I'm by no means an expert as I'm still learning...

    1. If it isn't broken - don't try and fix it. The shoes are obviously working for you at the moment. If they're comfortable, you haven't had any problems foot or otherwise, stay with what works.

    2. You get what you pay for. Your Adidas shoes are comfortable but you fell in love with the Brooks. My experience has been that generally the really good shoes fall around the range of $75 to $125. Sometimes they'll be a little more, others a little less, but usually not too far off. The fit is different. The feel is different. The performance is different.

    Oh, and I guess I have 3 things...

    3. You could always find a shoe at your specialty running store and then try and find the shoe online cheaper but there can be advantages to buying the shoes from your local store versus online. If it's a small enough operation the people will likely get to know you, get to know what you're training for, what you're running for, and what your goals are. I've found that at both of the specialty running stores that I have been to around here that they have a return policy that if the shoe can be sold again and it's returned within 2 weeks you can get a full refund - but you also have 30 days to try the shoe out, treadmill - trails and all, and if it doesn't work for you it can be returned for store credit. I can bring my shoes back and walk out with another pair that day - don't need to worry about shipping them back. I think the other advantage though, and in my mind this is a big one, is that they can tell you if the design of the shoe or last of the shoe has changed because those little changes can make a big difference when you run.

    So I used to be the same way - didn't understand the higher priced shoes, but now I do.

    Good luck!

    posted almost 7 years ago

  • in reply to what Joy R. said:I've got two thoughts - keep in mind I'm still fairly new to this running thing (but been around in the group fitness world for a while) and I'm by no means an expert as I'm still learning... 1. If it isn't broken - don&#... read more

    Thanks Joy. I liked the guys at the specialty shoe store. They don't work on commission, so it certainly wasn't high pressure sales. I may buy from there, but I'll peek online a bit to see if I can find it considerably cheaper.

    thanks!

    posted almost 7 years ago

  • That's an awesome write-up! :) I, too, was a cheapo when it came to shoe purchases. My wedding shoes were $19.99! My first pair of running shoes were on sale for $37 (which seemed incredibly steep at the time.) They were from a department store. They served me well enough through the couch to 5k program until I got injured since they just didn't have as much cushion as I needed once my miles and intensity increased. I fell madly in love with the first pair of shoes the Running Store Lady put on my feet. They were $100. I couldn't fathom paying that much -- but coughed up the money. 7 pairs of the identical shoe later, I still say, that was a turning point in my running life. I think it was worth it and will still pay $100 to get the "perfect" running shoe.

    Go on now! Wipe off that guilty look and go get yours! :)

    posted almost 7 years ago

  • that's awesome Christie -
    Can I ask what was the magical shoe you've purchased 8 times in a row?? And if you say Crocs, I'm outta here ; )

    posted almost 7 years ago

  • I've been buying Nike Air Moto's for probably my last 10 to 12 pairs; all from the Internet for around $40-50; which isn't bad since they're Bowerman series running shoes. I'd generally run in them for 300 to 400 miles and then replace them. That was until I read "Born to Run" and realized that there were a lot of people running many more miles barefooted or with minimalist shoes. So, I said, well, based on what I read, it seemed like I'm better off with no or old shoes; which fit into my thriftiness (cheap is when it involves someone else, thrifty is when it involves only yourself) anyway. Now I'm wearing my current pair until the treads wear off and then I'm going to go back to all my other old pairs (maybe around 6 pair) and just keep wearing them until I wear them out. I'll stick to this plan as long as my legs stay injury free. So far, so good.

    posted almost 7 years ago

  • Dude, I used to be just like you. I didn't swap out my shoes until the souls were visibly worn through. I was a new runner, full of gusto, this was 8 years ago.
    I did fine for a year or so with that philosophy, averaging 20-25 miles per week, running a decent clip (7-8 minute mile averages)
    Then something happened. I guess my running mechanics finally got the best of me and along came a familiar foe, pain. The pain was generalized at first, illusive, hard to measure, mostly lower leg. I muscled through it. Then the pain became an all day variety, especially bad in the mornings.
    I finally admitted I needed help, so I set out to doing research. Turned out I have a propensity for shin splints and Achilles tendonitis. The best remedy for these issues, if you're determined to keep pounding the pavement like I was, was to have great fitting, well cushioned shoes.
    So, my friend, please don't get yourself into a situation like me where you had to learn the hard way. Let the non running types have their "tennis shoes" and get yourself some decent shoes to avoid any future problems. You can still be cheap, once you find a model that suits you. Scour sites like eBay for returns and shoes with horrible color schemes.
    I just bought my 4th pair of Asics Nimbus, never spent more than $70, of course these were charcoal and fluorescent orange, UGLY! I've had good luck with the Adidas Supernova cushion too, if you can find them.
    Once you get your shoes, keep track of the mileage as shoes typically "wear out" after 350-400 miles. I'll never go over 500 again, I like my ability to walk too much!!!

    posted almost 7 years ago | edited almost 7 years ago

  • in reply to what Mike J. said:Dude, I used to be just like you. I didn't swap out my shoes until the souls were visibly worn through. I was a new runner, full of gusto, this was 8 years ago. I did fine for a year or so with that philosophy, averaging 20-25 miles per wee... read more

    Thanks Mike! When I was in college I went through a bout of Achilles tendonitis. Maybe that's enough to "scare" me into extra-cushioning. Thanks!

    posted almost 7 years ago

  • "Runners wearing top-of-the-line trainers are 123 per cent more likely to get injured than runners in cheap ones. This was discovered as far back as 1989, according to a study led by Dr Bernard Marti, the leading preventative-medicine specialist at Switzerland's University of Bern."

    "Follow-up studies found similar results, like the 1991 report in Medicine & Science In Sports & Exercise that found that 'wearers of expensive running shoes that are promoted as having additional features that protect (eg, more cushioning, 'pronation correction') are injured significantly more frequently than runners wearing inexpensive shoes.'

    I'm not a proponent of barefoot running; however I don't support the idea of paying $100+ for a pair of sneakers either. I'd suggest buying some sort of "running" shoes within your budget. These studies are slightly biased to me - but there's some truth to them. You don't need to by $100+ shoes.

    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/moslive/article-1170253/The-painful-truth-trainers-Are-expensive-running-shoes-waste-money.html#ixzz1TFYGMe8L

    posted almost 7 years ago | edited almost 7 years ago

  • in reply to what said:"Runners wearing top-of-the-line trainers are 123 per cent more likely to get injured than runners in cheap ones. This was discovered as far back as 1989, according to a study led by Dr Bernard Marti, the leading preventative-medicine special... read more

    Wow, that's unexpected. Without looking at the studies done, I would wonder if the ones in the expensive shoes are high-mileage runners while the cheap-shoe runners are more newbies or low-mileage types. Which would explain the injuries. But maybe not. Interesting angle -- I bet that would surprise a lot of DMers.

    Thanks!

    posted almost 7 years ago

  • in reply to what Krysty T. said:I used to be the SAME way. I totally did not see the point in those $100 shoes...if the $30 ones from Target could get the job done. Then...injury struck. And I blame the cheap junk shoes from Target for not having great stability, and went rig... read more

    get the vibrams. you'll love them. i have 400 miles in mine and they show no wear.

    posted almost 7 years ago

  • expensive doesn't mean better. i had to have the zig teks when they came out. after three weeks, i returned them and had knee pain. i of course have worn vibrams since then and changed my running form. i say stay with what is working but pay attention to your body

    posted almost 7 years ago

  • in reply to what Steve R. said:Wow, that's unexpected. Without looking at the studies done, I would wonder if the ones in the expensive shoes are high-mileage runners while the cheap-shoe runners are more newbies or low-mileage types. Which would explain the injuries. But ... read more

    Not sure about that particular study but I believe there was a study that did indicate that price was the only variable. Regardless of experience, speed, or mileage, those in more expensive shoes were injured more. It was quoted in "Born to Run".

    posted almost 7 years ago

  • Running shoes are important. And yes, I do think sometimes they are overpriced. I personally will not spend money on shoes over about $80 or so. My most expensive pair I think was about $90. But I also have a hard time finding shoes in my size. (I prefer New Balance but always seem to have difficulty finding them in size 10 and a half to 11).

    To me, as a runner shoes are the most important accessory. But I also don't really care about technical shirts or specialty watches or anything like that. So I really just spend my money on running shoes and race entry fees and a decent pair or two of running shorts. Otherwise, I just wear plain old cotton tshirts from way back in high school (which is really only about 6 years ago).

    posted almost 7 years ago

  • in reply to what said:"Runners wearing top-of-the-line trainers are 123 per cent more likely to get injured than runners in cheap ones. This was discovered as far back as 1989, according to a study led by Dr Bernard Marti, the leading preventative-medicine special... read more

    I am all for researching in order to make a sensible purchase, but you have to read statistics very critically. I'm no top expert but I was a Statistical Analyst at one point, it's still part of my job but from a more academic sense.

    These types of studies fail to indicate the causative factor(s), they only indicate a relationship between the two trends. I have been on both sides of the shoe buying issue and admit that when I have a more technically supportive shoe, I'm much more aggressive in my training.

    For example, if I am wearing a $50 pair of shoes, I'm not even able to get to the high mileage that i'm capable of achieving with a $120 pair of shoes. Moreoever, when you get to the higher mileage you are more likely to be injured due to fatigue or dehydration, not the shoe. Conclusion: if you are running 1 to 3 miles per session at a conversational pace, a $50 pair of shoes will do. Otherwise, buy the appropriate shoe and consult with a good running shoe salesperson.

    posted almost 7 years ago

  • in reply to what said:"Runners wearing top-of-the-line trainers are 123 per cent more likely to get injured than runners in cheap ones. This was discovered as far back as 1989, according to a study led by Dr Bernard Marti, the leading preventative-medicine special... read more

    delete duplicate

    posted almost 7 years ago | edited almost 7 years ago

  • in reply to what Yvonne H. said:I am all for researching in order to make a sensible purchase, but you have to read statistics very critically. I'm no top expert but I was a Statistical Analyst at one point, it's still part of my job but from a more academic sense. T... read more

    Running form and technique are more important than the price tag of a shoe. Some people tend to be more reckless when they think that little marketing gimmick at the heel of their shoe will actually absorb 4~6G of vertical impact force on tibia. As of today, there's no conclusive evidence that expensive or cheap shoes are more likely to causes injury.

    Everyone's experience in shoes varies. I get at around 600 miles on all my shoes regardless of the price, make, and model. But does that mean it'll be the same for you? Absolutely not. I agree if you go easier, a $50 pair will suffice. However I also believe that the "top of the line" shoes are just engineered to empty your wallet.

    But hey, what do I know? I'm just another guy on the internet.

    posted almost 7 years ago | edited almost 7 years ago

  • in reply to what said:Running form and technique are more important than the price tag of a shoe. Some people tend to be more reckless when they think that little marketing gimmick at the heel of their shoe will actually absorb 4~6G of vertical impact force on tibia.... read more

    Thanks Kevin!

    posted almost 7 years ago

  • That is quite interesting. I've never tried to find cheaper shoes that could work, but I have 0 arch in my foot and have tried exercising with just a general soccer shoe and my feet are in so much pain... where my good running shoes cause me 0 pain, I find them quite comfortable. Like some of the other people here, more information than simply people with high priced runners got injured more would be helpful. I'm sure there are other factors involved.

    posted almost 7 years ago

  • I am of the same proclivity that you are; go to the sales rack and see what is there. I don't bother to go look at the rest of the store unless it is to compare prices and see what might be in the clearance rack next. I end up buying "last year's" model for under half price. So, I end up buying the Asics or other name brand for less than $50. I have a neutral running style so this works for me and I track my mileage on my shoes as well. I shoot for 500-600 miles but start searching for my next (third) pair at 300 miles as I always have 2 pairs in rotation.

    posted almost 7 years ago

  • I think running shoes are very important....but it doesn't necessarily mean the ones that cost the most are best for you. I found a $95 of running shoes that have been a life saver for me....took away my lower leg issues I was having almost instantly. So for me it was worth the purchase.

    posted almost 7 years ago

  • i run in real "shoes" sometimes, but mostly in fivefingers. i'm not one of the barefoot nazis that thinks shoes are the root of all evil, but....
    my wife and i went to a running store that had the treadmill with a bunch of cameras and pressure plates to analyze her form. After 4 hours of trying on what must have been 15+ pairs of shoes and insoles and doing analysis of each trying to correct her form, (she's never had any injuries, btw) they told her to get the ones that fit the best because the shoes aren't changing anything. She wound up buying the newer model of the shoes she already had because they fit well.

    So, just because someone at the running store tells you to buy something cause you need it, doesn't mean you need it. Remember that the plural of opinion is not data.

    just my $0.02

    posted almost 7 years ago

  • in reply to what said:i run in real "shoes" sometimes, but mostly in fivefingers. i'm not one of the barefoot nazis that thinks shoes are the root of all evil, but.... my wife and i went to a running store that had the treadmill with a bunch of cameras a... read more

    Wow, 4 hours at a shoe store. That ranks right up there w/ waterboarding - tortuous! Glad she got the pair she wanted.

    posted almost 7 years ago

  • If you liked the GTS 11 then why not take a look around at some of the outlet stores, or online, or just come out and ask the salespeople if they have any of previous yeasr model still in stock....

    All my shoes are bought at least 1 year, sometimes 2 years behind the current model... and i pay on average about half the full price.

    As to the discussion re running specific vs el cheapo shoes... If your weekly miles arnt to high then you probably dont need the bells and whistles... if your clocking up big miles then you probably should get yourself some running specific shoes (as much for the lightness, and foot climate as anything).... as to when you replace them thats up to you. I have a pair of GTS 9's that have 600+ miles on them and i have no intention of taking them out of my current rotation anytime soon.

    BTW a GTS 11 is a support shoe, unless your really large then if youve got a neutral foot you probably dont need the support. and could get away with something a bit lighter.

    Oh and if you do splash out, use them just for running untill you retire them, then if theyre not falling apart you can still use them as an everyday shoe.

    posted almost 7 years ago

  • in reply to what Steve R. said:Wow, 4 hours at a shoe store. That ranks right up there w/ waterboarding - tortuous! Glad she got the pair she wanted.

    yeah, it was a looong time. especially with my 4 year old daughter. But, to give the store a little credit, they let my daughter play with just about everything in the store, twice.

    posted almost 7 years ago

  • in reply to what Paul said:If you liked the GTS 11 then why not take a look around at some of the outlet stores, or online, or just come out and ask the salespeople if they have any of previous yeasr model still in stock.... All my shoes are bought at least 1 year, sometim... read more

    Thanks for the advice. I will check out cheaper alternatives.
    Regarding the GTS 11s, I've seen a lot of people on DM w/ that shoe. Do you mean by "really large" that the shoe is designed for overweight people -- or what?
    Wouldn't a support shoe benefit everyone?? Thanks

    posted almost 7 years ago

  • Looks like a lot of us came from where you're at. Me too. And the cheap warn out shoes eventually contributed to foot problems. I discovered I did better with arch support and stability. Asics 11xx have worked for me, so I've stuck with them. The newest model (1160) will cost $80, but I buy the previous model for cheaper and try to find 'buy 1 get 1 half off deals'. It's worked so far .. I've never spent more than $45 yet. Good Luck and Happy Trails. Chris Kelley - Framingham

    posted almost 7 years ago | edited almost 7 years ago

  • I always had problems with my feet and was willing to spend money on good fitting shoes. When I started running last year I used some Nike Pegasus shoes. I used the same model as my everyday shoe and figured that it might be good for running as well. The Nike Pegasus cost me $70 at the Nike Outlet. I started out running with just a few miles at the time and for that the shoe was good. After putting ca. 300 miles in these shoes I noticed that my legs started to hurt more easily.

    Then I went to a specialty store and bought a pair of stability shoes (Mizuno). I had them for ca. 3 months but could not run in them (I run less than 20 miles total). Every time I hit the 3 mile mark I felt like somebody was putting needles in my foot. It hurt a lot. I exchanged these shoes for another pair. Now I am wearing the Brooks Trance 10. I am happy with the shoes, no more pain. If you want to read the whole story about this "odyssey" go here: http://www.dailymile.com/people/camelli/entries/7858769

    Since I got the new shoes my feet feel better after running. I had shin splints before but now I rarely get them (and if I have them, then I know I went out to fast). I am glad I spent the money on my stability shoes. And I will do so in the future as well.

    The shoes are the thing you use the most while running and I would not try to save money at the wrong place. You might regret that later when you are getting injured. Personally, I would find out what kind of pronation / arch you have and what do you need the shoe for (street vs. trail). Then find a shoe (or even a brand) you like and then stick with them. If you know what kind of shoe is good for your foot/you like running in you can search online/in stores for a good price and save some money. Buying the last year model is a good idea as well.

    posted almost 7 years ago | edited almost 7 years ago

  • in reply to what Steve R. said:Thanks Katherine! The guy at the shoe store analyzed my feet, my stance, my walk and run. He said that I was a neutral and that the shoe I was wearing was also a neutral. The only difference is that he thought I might need a wide to give a little ... read more

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