My shoe choices

Yes, I’m procrastinating. Why work when one can blog?

Marahon shoes
Marahon shoes (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Recently, a running blogger friend posted about buying a new pair of shoes, and I realized that I’ve never really discussed my shoe choices on this site. I chose the sport of running for many reasons, and one of those reasons was cost. Running is, quite frankly, the cheapest sport out there. All you need is a pair of shoes – and even that is debatable.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always owned a pair of vaguely athletic-looking shoes. Before I became a runner, I wore those shoes when I anticipated a lot of walking (such as when I visited a museum) or when it was cold outside. My first pair of “running” shoes was one of these pairs of athletic-looking shoes, and they were most certainly NOT running shoes! They got me through my first race (a 4-mile hosted by the Kansas City Zoo), with only one medium-sized blister. That was enough to get me hooked!

When I set out to buy my first pair of “real” running shoes, I was really rather shocked by the prices I encountered – and the advice I was given. As a new runner, I voraciously read articles on and learned everything I could about running. Advice for new runners always emphasized the importance of good shoes – but to my surprise and dismay, this was often accompanied by assurances that if I didn’t get $100-plus running shoes, I was guaranteed to destroy my legs and feet, to be injured, and to rue the day I ever chose to run. This, to me, felt like extortion. Mankind has been running for thousands of years, without your fancy shoes. I couldn’t explain it, but it just felt wrong.

Around this time, I also read Born to Run by Christopher McDougall. It’s a well-written book, but more importantly, the author laid out the evidence that supported my gut feeling – that there’s more to running than the shoes. More and more runners are actually running barefoot, and there’s nothing intrinsically unhealthy about that. I have run barefoot before – in fact, when I run on the treadmill, I nearly always run barefoot – but I’m not comfortable enough running barefoot to do so on the streets.

My first pair of running shoes was a pair of Reeboks that I found on clearance at Sears for about $30 or $35. If I remember correctly, the model was called “DMX Exuberance”. I LOVED those shoes. They were comfortable, and I loved running in those shoes. I was able to get a second pair of that same model on the internet, and I wore both pairs for as long as I possibly could, first as running shoes and then later as my “walking-around-town” shoes.

I’ve owned a pair of New Balance shoes. It was also a pair that I found on clearance for around $40. I wasn’t at all impressed. Those shoes pinched my pinky toes in a way that was not comfortable and left me prone to pinky-toe blisters.

I also have a pair of Avia shoes, also purchased on clearance for around $40. Those were quickly demoted from running shoes to “walking-around-town” shoes. The arches on these shoes are strange. They were okay for a three mile run, but if I ran longer than that, my arches would hurt the next day. They’ve been fine for shopping or other not-too-demanding pursuits, although I recently discovered a hole in the right shoe, and I’m kinda disappointed that they didn’t last longer (even as non-running shoes).

Lately I’ve been in love with LA Gear shoes. I bought a pair of LA Gear Prowess running shoes on clearance for $30, and I was (pleasantly) surprised by how much I loved them. They feel fantastic when I run! Since I bought them on clearance, I knew I probably would not be able to find another pair (and I haven’t) but I did find a pair of LA Gear Quest running shoes that look and feel nearly identical.

I will probably need to buy another pair of shoes soon, and I don’t plan to spend a lot of money on them. Like I have before, I will go to Sears and see what’s on their clearance rack. I’m hoping for another pair like the two pairs of LA Gear shoes I’ve been alternating lately. I know I’m blessed with a very healthy gait, and I understand that some people need to buy more expensive shoes to correct irregular gaits. But I just can’t justify spending $100-plus on a pair of running shoes!

What do you think? Do you spend a lot on your shoes, or have you had success with less expensive shoes?