What’s the difference between a $200 pair of running shoes and a $20 pair of running shoes?
A lot, obviously. But what about between a $2,00 pair of running shoes and a $20 pair of running shoes? Not much. Sure, the difference might be in weight or cushioning or durability or all three – but are you really going to notice it out on the road?
So what’s the point of paying up? And how do you know if you’re getting your money’s worth, anyway?
What to Look For in Good Running Shoes
you can check an in-depth discussion about this in How Should I Choose Running Shoes For Beginners? (2021) | Running Shoes Best
The $200 pair is usually better-constructed than its cheaper alternative. The midsole material is likely denser and more durable, which means it will provide sharper rebound and require less in-shoe break-in. The materials in the upper will be more durable, too – offering protection from the elements and preventing stretch over time.
Cheaper shoes may not have all of these features. But don’t assume that just because you’re spending $200 that you’ll get all the bells and whistles. Some pricier shoes are simply loaded with fluff, like a spare pair of laces, an extra tongue insert or a storage pouch – things you’ll rarely if ever use.
And don’t assume that just because a shoe is inexpensive it’s automatically better for beginning runners. The cheapest running shoes often have the least stability and support, which means they’re more likely to injure you.
Let’s take a look at another $200 shoe: the Saucony Kinvara 3. It’s billed as an “entry-level” ride for newbies – but what makes it entry-level? Well, aside from its weight (6 oz, which is par for the course) and flexibility (very flexible), it has no special construction or technology. Does that mean that all $200 shoes have to have bells and whistles? Not at all, but you should probably expect a little more than just the basics.
A Good Deal on New Running Shoes
the difference in a $200 running shoe and a $20 running shoe are almost always obvious.
The tendency of runners is often to invest too much money in their footwear when a good deal on a new pair of running shoes is right around the corner. Maybe you’ve been training for your first half marathon, and you need some stable shoes with a little more cushioning to get through those long miles. You drive down to your local running store and find that they’re having a sale: 40-50% off all their shoes.
And in the bargain bin, you see a pair of Asics GT-2150s: a great road shoe in its own right, and perfect for marathon training. But they’re only $70 – well within your budget. Should you buy them? Well, if you can make use of them (they fit and feel just fine), sure.
But what if you go for a jog in the parking lot, and they feel very stiff? You don’t want to spend your training time trying to break them in. What if they have no support or stability – the wrong tools for the job at hand?
You’ll be better off with a shoe that’s already broken-in, with the proper level of cushioning and stability for marathon training. The Asics you find in the bargain bin may be great shoes, but they’re not right for your needs at this point in time – so don’t buy them just because they’re cheap.
A $20 Pair of Running Shoes May Not Be Worth Buying at All
Okay, so you’ve decided to buy them. Does that mean they’re worth buying?
Well, the answer is no if they don’t fit your feet. If they’re too narrow or too wide for your foot, or if their cushioning just can’t handle the pressure of running (even walking) – then you’ll be in pain, and your feet and legs and back will start to ache. And if you run in shoes like that, you’re going to get injured.
The shoes may still have some wear left in them – but they’re not fit for running in. If they hurt when you walk in them, they won’t be any better when you run in them. Don’t bother buying a new pair of running shoes that don’t fit right – it’s not worth it.
Fit Is More Important Than Anything Else
The advice we often hear is to “get the shoe that feels most comfortable”, and while there’s some truth in that, remember that a comfortable-feeling shoe doesn’t necessarily make for a comfortable running shoe. They need to fit your foot well – and that means they need the proper width, the proper heel and arch support and enough room in the toe-box.
Some shoes will feel good at first because they’re very flexible and forgiving, but as you run in them they’ll start to collapse around your feet. They may feel fine when you’re walking or jogging slowly, but put on some speed and they’ll start to feel sloppy. Some runners even complain that the bottoms of their feet start to hurt after they’ve worn a new pair of shoes for just a few runs – because the combination of poor fit and too much cushioning is really an injury waiting to happen.
If they don’t fit, don’t bother with them. They’re not worth buying (and wearing). If you’re in the market for a new pair of running shoes, that means that your old pair has either been rendered unwearable or worn out completely – and if that’s the case, then it’s time to find a new pair of shoes that do fit.
As you shop for your new shoes, remember to try them on first and walk around in them. If they feel okay, lace them up and take a short jog (on the sidewalk). A good running shoe will feel supportive yet flexible; it will hug your heel, give you enough room in the toe box and not leave your feet sore. If you’re going to run in them, they need to be a good fit – which means more than feeling okay when you walk in them.
What About Buying Running Shoes at a Discount?
That may seem like a question with an obvious answer – but if the shoe doesn’t fit, it won’t matter if it’s 70% off.
Yes, you can buy discount running shoes. Yes, you can still find good deals on new running shoes online or in retail outlets. However – and this is a big however – only buy running shoes that fit right . Don’t just assume that because they’re cheap they’re going to feel fine when you run in them. Remember that it’s more important to get shoes that fit than shoes that are cheap (or free).
There’s nothing wrong with buying used shoes – but they need to be broken-in, and they should still fit your feet properly, even after you’ve worn them for a while. Just because there’s an obvious sign of wear in the form of scuffs and scrapes doesn’t mean they’re okay to run in – and shoes that are too beat up to be worn when you’re just out for a walk or a hike shouldn’t be used for running.
Finally, there’s no such thing as “your size” in shoe sizes. If it fits your foot, then it’s yours – and that goes for running shoes as well as any other type of footwear. If your heel slips in the shoe when you run (or even walk) – if your heel isn’t held snugly in place – then it doesn’t fit . The same thing goes if your arch feels like it’s slipping out or if your toes are jammed up against the front of the shoe.
The best way to buy running shoes that fit is to shop at a store that specializes in athletic footwear – and even then, don’t just go on what the salesperson tells you. Try them on first, walk around in them for a bit (if you can) and see how they feel. If they don’t seem to be the right fit for your feet, then try on another pair. Don’t just settle for any old shoes – you deserve comfortable running shoes that are a good fit .
The most important thing you can do to protect your feet (and legs) is to make sure they’re always in good shape. That means keeping them warm, dry and well supported – and that’s true whether you’re wearing running shoes or walking shoes or any other kind of footwear. If your footwear doesn’t fit properly, then it isn’t worth wearing – even if it’s new.
There are lots of ways to save on running shoes , but you don’t want to cut corners by buying the wrong size or the wrong model, especially when it comes to comfort And remember that if they don’t fit right, then they’re not the best choice for you.