How I buy running shoes

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

(If you don't care how I buy running shoes, sorry.)

I'm not going to lie to you, running is not a cheap hobby. You'd think that going outside and just moving your body wouldn't come with a high cost, but if you have any interest in racing, avoiding blisters and preventing chaffed nipples, a monetary investment is required.

I'll never advocate that you need to spend oodles of money in order to participate in the sport. In fact, I gave up on buying namebrand-only gear a long time ago and a large chunk of my workout clothes are from the clearance rack at Wal-Mart or Target (I'm disgusting and can wear out a t-shirt with my sweaty armpits in a matter of months, so why drop a ton of cash just to have a white swoosh above my boob?)

However, there is one area of running that I physically cannot afford to skimp on, and that's shoes.

A girl and her shoes, am I right?

I have wide feet. A childhood injury left me with a sensitive big toenail that can't handle too much pressure or shock. I get shin splints very easily.

Any ol' pair of sneakers will not do.

I ran my first half marathon in $30 Adidas gym shoes. Those shoes served their purpose well, but they didn't last much beyond the race and I still hobbled away from my first 13.1 with a severely bruised toenail (that later fell off and made me a social pariah during sandal season). Not wanting to constantly refresh shoes and spend more money in the long run (and admittedly, to look as cool as the other runners did at the race), I started gathering more information on running shoes and what I should be looking for in order to purchase a durable, long-lasting shoe.

During my running career, I have worn both Brooks and Saucony. I'm loyal to Brooks only because they were my first pair of "legit" running shoes (my use of the word "legit" coming from the fact that Brooks is my first experience with running-specific sneakers and not just cross-trainers). When it's time for new shoes (every 500 or so miles), they're the website I visit first.

However, they tend to be pricey and to me, you don't have to break the bank for high-quality shoes. Unless they have rockets on the bottoms. If they have rockets on the bottom, snatch that shiz up FAST.

So my strategy? I find a model I like, then I buy the previous year's model. And I know lots of runners who do this, too.

Yes, models do change from year to year (so I always check out reviews), but in my experience, a shoe model doesn't change enough from one year to the next to make a huge difference (to me). I've never had an issue with fit or feel.

I fell in lust with these Brooks Glycerin 12s last month. They are, hand's down, the prettiest sneakers I've ever seen.

But I've never run in Glycerins. I don't know if they'd work for my feet. I've tried Brooks Defyance, Adrenaline and most recently, Launch, but not these. (Seriously, who comes up with shoe names? Probably someone who makes WAY more money than I do.) I'm not willing to risk $150 if they end up being a terrible fit for me.

So until I have the time (i.e. until I make the time) to seek out a shoe store in town that carries Glycerin 12s so I can try them on for size, I'll go with something I already know works for me.

And something I know I can find on the cheap through an discount online retailer.


These are my new kicks (I hate myself for typing that). These are the Kinvara 4s.

You might recognize a similar pair of shoes in this photo of my crushing my first full marathon last November:


They're difficult to make out, but those purple and hot pink shoes are Saucony Kinvara 3s. It's kind of funny because when I was shopping for these 3s, I was lusting after the 4s I just bought last week. At this time last year, the 4s were the new, hot model that I didn't want to drop a lot of cash on and the 3s were the previous year's cheaper model.

So this means that I have a good year to go out and try Brooks Glycerin and hopefully next fall, the above Glycerin 12s will be on sale.

Us runners do what we can to get by! :)

I haven't taken the new Kinvara 4s for a test drive just yet. I had a 10 mile run on Sunday and decided to squeeze out as many extra miles in my current Brooks Launch as I possibly can!


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2 comments

  1. Love the colors of your new sneaks! If you make it out to NYC, in Bryant Park, there's an ASICS store, where they do a run evaluation. They take a pic of your foot in this giant x-ray box thing, make you run on a treadmill for 30 seconds or a minute (I can't remember how long) while they video your feet as you run, and measure all the points and curves of your feet. BEST thing I've done for myself in terms of running. Found out I need a high-stability sneaker (and here I thought I needed something lighter because of my back and neck injuries...who knew?!), and a narrow width. Never even knew running sneakers came in narrow width, but both of those things made a HUGE difference in how I feel after running. Now that I know which of their sneakers are best for my foot, I do what you do - buy last year's model. Another good thing about that store is that they save all of your information, so you can go back, get reevaluated, and they can compare it to when you were there before. Highly recommend going there if you venture to NYC in the future!!

    Good luck with your new sneakers!

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    1. Oh, that's awesome! The best thing we have around here is a running store that has a small track in the back that you can run on while a professional evaluates your gait, pronation, etc. But it's nowhere NEAR as fancy as what they have at the ASICS store! I'm pretty fortunate that I am very much a neutral runner that doesn't require any bells or whistles or special widths or cushioning. But now I'm curious to learn even MORE about my running style. Looks like I need to go to NYC!

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