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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Cost Vs Comfort: What Influences Your Running Shoe Purchase?

Expensive running shoes are not better than more affordable running shoes(Study). This was the premise thesis title-(call it what you will) that was tackled by the folks at RunRepeat-(click the link for details about RunRepeat).  I first became aware of RunRepeat back in August while reviewing the stats on my blog.  

Being curious of the traffic source I reached out to thank them for the link love.  After a few exchanges they asked me to craft a post about a study they recently conducted looking at 134,867 reviews and 391 running shoes from 24 brands on their site-(Sure why not).

OK what's really real? From the gate let me just say I take these studies with a grain of salt and no I'm not cynical or from the show me State-I'm a Sneakerholic from BK.  The study comes fully equipped with a table of contents, conclusions, background, methodology, results, potential biases and info about the researchers, bathroom reading for sure.  And that's not necessarily a bad thing I've read some fine books on the throne.

Expensive running shoes from $130-$199.  According to Jim: "The difference between expensive and inexpensive running shoes is usually a couple weeks worth of coffee, and while I enjoy my coffee I spend more time running".
Runners are strange birds but, they're not dingbats.  Skeptical shrewd consumers especially in light of the explosion of online bargain sites and brick and mortar locations that offer incredible deals on last years version of their favorite shoe.  

Die hard Sneakerholics, Running Shoe Geeks, Sneaker Heads or Fanboys will long for and even drool over the latest tech update color way limited edition shoe.  But, I'd like to think they have reasonable expectations when they lay down their hard earned cash and are capable of sifting through a barrage of marketing hoopla to distinguish between hype and fact.  Granted some new and veteran runners may be swayed by marketing campaigns for the most part I think they make informed decisions-I could be wrong though.

Affordable running shoes
So with an open mind started reading the study.  A few lines in I came across, Vibram Five Fingers as the #3 Top Rated Brand and I immediately started chuckling in disbelief.  Hey weren't those the same guys who recently settled a class action lawsuit?  And it made me question the accuracy of the data.  But, whatever I continued reading.

At a minimum I think the recent class action lawsuit levied against Vibram for fraudulent claims would serve as a cautionary tale for other brands to be careful of what they print in ink or record and serve to the masses as gospel. 

But, who doesn't enjoy watching a witty hilarious visually ecstatic commercials during the super bowl.  Even if your team didn't make it to the big game you still tune in, if for nothing else the camaraderie, beer and commercials.  Aww, yes the commercials.

What once was confusing is now an exquisite display 
When I started running I made the classic mistake of grabbing an old pair of what I thought were running shoes and hit the road.  As my passion for the sport grew I started looking for better equipment so I hit my local Running Specialty Shop to get properly fitted.  Staring at the wall was confusing as hell with all the brands colors racing flats daily trainers minimalist and maxi cushioned kicks.  I was at the mercy of the sales representative and their available inventory.  Not wanting to feel completely clueless I did some research online before making a decision.  Now I'm not the sharpest tool in the tool box but, I found this approach helpful.

Being a niche market most Running Specialty Shops don't carry entry level shoes that you may find in a department store or big box retailer.  Sure you may find an affordable shoes at the mall but I seriously doubt if they're equipped to handle running specific questions.  That's part of the service experience and lure that differentiates the two entities. 

There's something for everyone from the walker to triathlete 
I've always been of the mindset that you get what you pay for. Running shoes like cars will both get you from point A to B.  You have a choice you can roll up in a SmartCar or Phantom but if you don't put gas in either you're guaranteed not to get very far-they're no short cuts you've got put in the work.  

As a Sneakerholic I'm bias, so I posed this question in a few online groups: Are you more or less satisfied with expensive kicks compared to more affordable ones-(click the links to view the comments: Running Shoe Geeks and Black Men Run. The two groups represent newbies veterans shoe geeks and frugal consumers.  Regardless of the group comfort was most important factor that influenced their purchase.



  1. That's a really helpful article. It really helped me out. Like you rightly said good running shoes are equally important when it comes a hard core workout. I recently bought some online running shoesCheck them out.

  2. I really enjoyed reading this post, big fan. Keep up the good work andplease tell me when can you publish more articles or where can I read more on the subject?
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