Experiences of Running in Cheap Running Shoes
On the one hand, we have runners who spare no expense when it comes to their running gear. On the other hand, some try to skimp and save a few bucks.
The question is, does being thrifty matter when it comes to your running shoes?
What is “Cheap?”
Reaching out to the running community to see if anyone runs in cheap shoes, it is interesting to note that “cheap” certainly is relative. For a runner in India where a decent pair of shoes can sell for close to $200 American dollars, getting a deal means anything under $100.
Other runners consider it a bargain bin sale if it is in the $70-80 range. Yet other people talk about practically stealing running shoes for $50 or less.
Many things determine what constitutes a good deal for you as an individual, and it is far more complicated than your expendable personal income.
- Where are you located? Sure, with the internet you can buy things from any place in the world. However, shipping costs are a real thing. Your location does impact what you pay for things.
- Do you have special shoe needs? If you need a cushioned shoe or something for overpronation, for example, you don’t have a lot of flexibility in what you can buy. Neutral shoe wearers may have more options.
- What size shoes do you wear? People who have very small feet often can snag clearance shoes at bargain-bin prices. If you are the average size, on the other hand, you won’t have this advantage.
- Are you picky about color and style? If you don’t care what your shoes look like and aren’t fussy about things like color, you may get lucky on those kind of ugly shoes that no one else wants.
- Will you wear last year’s model? Willingness to wear shoes that are one year or more old can be an exceptional buy.
If you are like most people who see that running shoes can get pretty pricy, you can appreciate that shoes priced at or below the $100 mark are a great deal. Check out these under $100 running shoes reviewed by Runnerclick athletes and writers.
Is Saving Money Worth It?
Most of my running friends say that it is not worth it to skimp on shoes. One runner discussed how she used to wear the Saucony Kinvara, considered cheap in the running shoe world. She said they were often available within that $75-$90 price point that they did not hold up like other shoes.
Sub-30 Club member Chad Hause remembers forgetting his shoes for a race and tried to sub in a pair of Walmart specials. Cause said, “I made it 43 miles, and it screwed up my feet. I lost three toenails and had 12 blisters. Never again. Currently, my stable consists exclusively of Topo shoes.“
Another member said that she tried cheap shoes also, and she only got about 80 miles out of the last pair.
Runnerclick Pro member James Intihar reminisced about running a half marathon in a pair of Fila’s from Kohls. “The soles fell off of them shortly after that run. Since then, I have been using Hoka Bondi’s, UA Machina, and Saucony Triumph.
Cheap Shoe Disadvantage
The number one complaint runners have after running in cheap shoes is that they ended up injured. Whether it was something small like blisters or a longer-lasting injury such as plantar fasciitis or shin splints, if you end up sidelined because you tried to save a few bucks, have you gained anything?
Most runners find specific brands and types of shoes that work for them and stick to it. After all, if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it. Even thrifty runners who enumerate many ways they will save money typically don’t skimp on shoes.
Megan Fitzgerald Romano of Sub-30 Club said, “I’ll go cheap on basics. I buy second-hand pullovers, jackets and other things. I buy them on Poshmark or ThredUp and spend next to nothing on them. But shoes? I always buy new shoes, and I pay plenty for them.”
Cost, Quality, and Comfort
Doug Hoy of the Sub-30 Club had a great point. “Cost, quality, and comfort are not always interchangeable. I have run in shoes that were of greater quality and comfort than what many would consider inexpensive. I have also run in shoes that were definitely expensive investments.
I frequently visit my local running store and spend an hour or so trying on shoes in different makes, models, styles, and fit. I jog around the block to see how they fit first. Then I look at the price. My feet are worth it.”
Paul Lemley of RunnerClick Pro says he “is really digging the Asics Gel-Excite 8s that are only $62 on Amazon right now.” Lemley’s question is if these shoes hold up to the same mileage as their more expensive counterparts. Only time will tell.
Tricks of the Trade
A query on getting shoes for cheap netted the same answer over and over from the running community. That hack is to purchase your shoes when the company transitions to a new model. A new and improved shoe that sells for $120-140 can often see last year’s model discounted by as much as 30-35% right out of the gate.
And if you wear a less than common size, you can often wait a couple of months and get yourself another pair even cheaper! Be warned, though, if you wait too long, you may miss the window to purchase the lower-priced last year’s model.
There are also websites and discount stores that specialize in selling items that a company no longer wants to carry. Whether you are looking at a discount site like Brads Deals or 6 pm, or searching the racks at TJ Maxx, you can often find quality shoes at a great price.
The consensus among runners seems to be that while it is fine to save money by purchasing last year’s model, don’t skimp when it comes to shoes.
Your feet need to be happy and healthy to carry you miles and miles.
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