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?

4 thoughts on “My shoe choices”

  1. My first running shoes were a pair I bought at a department store, and for the knocking around I did with my dog, they were fine enuf. After I joined a running club, and found that I got a 20% discount at one of the running stores, and after I got some advice and read up on shoes, I bought what I consider my first serious running shoes. They were Brooks something-or-others and I put more than 300 miles on them before I got a new pair. That time I got Brooks Glycerins, which gave me a lot better support. I stuck with Glycerins every time I needed new shoes (about every 3-4 months or 300-400 miles). But I developed a chronic ankle ache. Not a pain. Just an ache deep in my ankle the day after a run. So I decided it was time to try something else. Now I’m running in Hoka One One Bondi 3 shoes. Probably the goofiest looking running shoes on the market. They have very thick soles and add an inch to my height. (My running pants still drag on the ground but that’s because I have no backside to hold them up.) I’ve only done 45 miles in the Hokas, but the ankle ache is gone. Fortunately, I get that 20% discount because I am likely to continue getting these expensive shoes going forward.

    1. Paul, I suppose I might appreciate a more “serious” running shoe – one that I didn’t find on a clearance rack – but at the same time I’ve had great success with some of these “cheap” shoes and wonder if a more expensive shoe could really be that much better. I haven’t yet gotten to a point where I’m willing to spend over $100 on a pair of shoes.

      And as for the running clubs – yes, I’ve heard about the discounts offered at local running stores with club memberships. I may write another blog post with my thoughts on that. I haven’t joined a running club (yet?), so obviously I don’t receive any sweet discounts like that.

  2. As for running being an inexpensive sport, you’re right. All you really need is the right pair of shoes.

    And, well, good socks. And a dri-fit shirt is nice. Also running shorts. Compression shorts. Compression sleeves. Winter running clothes. A running watch. A water bottle. Reflective gear and headlamps. Body Glide. And entry fees for races.

    1. Hehe, yes, I’ve learned this lesson all too well! It’s almost comical to think back on my naive belief that running couldn’t possibly be expensive. Over the years, I’ve gathered a fair collection of running clothes and such, thankfully, but I still find myself painfully tempted to buy running accessories that I don’t REALLY need! (except, it’s ultra-new-dri-fit and it’s SO COOL and I must have it!)

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