By Mike T.
Now of course everyone says “So now you’re going to tell us to buy these particular shoes from you so you can make some money.” Cynical and potentially true in some ways, but what I want to talk about is the difference between a more expensive shoe and the $60 shoe you buy at a department or typical sporting goods store.
Sticker shock when you see a shoe at $120 isn’t an uncommon reaction for someone shopping for new shoes at a quality running store. So, what do you get for that extra sixty dollars?
First is the fit of the upper. The more expensive shoes, if they have overlays, use lots of stretchy materials and well-thought-out lacing patterns that result in a more comfortable fit than that of the $60 shoe. The current trend in more expensive shoes is towards an upper that has no overlays, which increases the shoes flexibility while decreasing its weight. Paying more gives you a more flexible, lighter and comfortable shoe.
A second difference is the midsole weight. Newer midsole cushioning systems last longer than the previous foams, gels and related midsole components while also being lighter. The $60 shoes typically use cushioning materials that were initially developed for top of the line shoes several years ago. As everyone realizes, a lighter shoe is generally a faster shoe. Paying more gives you a longer lasting, lighter, yet more cushioned shoe.
Third is extra cushioning. If you compare a $60 shoe visually to a more expensive one, you can often see the cushioning differences. With a brand like Asics you can easily see the size and placement of the gel units and although you can’t see that in every shoe, all brands reduce the amount and placement of the cushioning in their cheaper shoes. The extra cushioning is able to spring back into shape after the bending, stretching and compression that occurs during your running better than a less cushioned option. More cushioning also makes a shoe more durable. And as with the midsole weight, companies are rolling out newer cushioning systems that are lighter and more durable at the same time. Who wouldn’t want a more cushioned yet lighter and longer lasting shoe?
Finally, the more expensive shoe’s outsoles tend to flex where the foot actually does and be constructed of more durable rubber that lasts longer than the $60 model. This makes the “ride” of the more expensive shoe more comfortable while also lasting longer.
Which gets us to the point – spending more gets you a better fitting, lighter, more cushioned and longer lasting shoe. Does that mean that you should rush out and buy the latest $160 shoe and start training in it? Not necessarily and that’s where we enter your running story. For many people the $160 shoe is the wrong answer, just like the $120, $100, or $60 shoe might be. The only way to know is to be fitted in a shoe by someone who takes the time to not only learn all of the technical specs that would bore you but also learn about your running goals and preferences in fit, weight and cushioning. With many options available, we’ll be able to do that for you.
See you on the run!
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