Buy Cheap, Buy Twice

When I first had this crazy notion to have a go at running, I was not at all certain that I would take to it, so I was reluctant to put much money into it. I made the most critical mistake of not getting a decent pair of shoes. Jump ahead to where I am now (week 7) and with the longer runs in this part of the course, the folly of my ways has been made clear to me. My feet were not at all happy with the shoes I had been running in, and I was growing concerned that I was just asking for an injury.

Yesterday after work I took the plunge and went along to my local sports shop, presented myself to the guy at the counter and explained that I had recently started running, but that I wanted help to find the right shoes. He was extremely professional about the whole process, inspecting my feet, my stance, my gait when walking, he even had a clever box with a plate of glass over a mirror for me to stand on barefoot, so that he could see the pattern of contact between my foot and the glass. All very clever. He found a selection of shoes to try, in a range of sizes and styles. He had me jog around the shop, which felt very peculiar as I was in my work clothes, and I tried my best to run as I might when I'm 10 minutes into a half hour run. He also asked about my running routine, how far, how often, when I started, what sort of progression I was following, whether I had been feeling any precursors to injury and so on. It really felt like he was giving me a full running MOT.

In the end I bought the shoes we agreed on and a couple of pairs of fancy running socks (I've never owned "handed" socks before). I had a look online, and of course I could have bought the same shoes for a fair amount less than I paid for them, but then I wasn't paying for the shoes alone, I was also paying for the full service.

When the rain stopped this afternoon, I went out for a proper go round in the new kit. The weather has returned to cold and miserable after a nice warm spell, and I was still not feeling 100% after a little too much thank god it's friday beer drinking. Even so, I ran the 5 km circuit that I've been following all week, managed to knock half a minute off my personal best and my feet feel as unbothered as if they had been up on the sofa all day.

I'm sure it's been said a thousand times before, but it deserves to be repeated. Get proper shoes from a proper shop, fitted by someone who knows what he's doing.

16 Replies

  • Right, I've been putting it off, but I'm definitely going to buy new shoes next week. Do you mind me asking which shop you went to?

  • I don't mind you asking, but I expect the answer won't be particularly helpful. I live in the rather unexciting town of Wettingen, in Canton Aargau, in Switzerland, and I went to the recently opened branch of Ochsner Sport in Tägipark (the number 7 bus goes right there). Thankfully the guy there spoke pretty good English as I wasn't sure I would be able to manage a conversation about the more technical aspects of running in German (I moved here from Cambridge a little over 5 years ago, and while I can manage most everyday stuff in German, I lack the vocabulary for some of the more esoteric subjects like foot anatomy and the sweat wicking properties of socks).

  • That's maybe a bit too far from Glasgow, although the number 7 bus route is not far from me...

  • An amusing side note, in the local accent here, the name "Asics" sounds just like "Essex", and I couldn't help but chuckle at the idea of going for a run in a nice pair of Essex trainers.

  • I live in glasgow, i have been told that run4it on Bothwell St is a good place to go for the full monty of sports shoe prepurchase examination. Of course, that was after i went somewhere else.

  • never a truer word said...I got to about week 7 before I couldn't actually walk due to pain in my 20 quid sports direct I did the whole gait malarky and I have never had a problem since...well worth the investment...

  • That's okay if you can afford it!

  • What price your health though? There are plenty of horror stories out there of runners no longer able to get out there because of injury due to poorly fitting shoes. Not to put too fine a line on it but a friend of mine thought he could get away with cheap shoes. He now needs walking sticks to help him get around and he is only 30. It is possible to get good shoes at a reasonable price. You have to make the time and effort to go to a reputable shop with professional staff and a wide range. If cost is an issue, ask them when their sale starts.

  • Looking at the position I was in, I could see three possible outcomes. The first was that I find running in the rubbish shoes and when the discomfort I was experiencing developed into the beginnings of a more serious injury, then stop running altogether and return to the sofa. The second was to keep running in bad shoes, ignore the warning signs, and end up in hospital (a friend at work has just had 2 months off and is still only working 50% recovering from an operation on a sports-related injury). The third option is to decide that the expense of proper shoes is justified. I could probably have reduced the cost if I had waited for the shop to have a sale on, and I expect if I explained to the guy in the shop that I was on a really tight budget, he would probably have factored that in to the range of shoes he recommended.

    If you discount the "don't go running" option, then the lowest cost option for me would have been not to have bought some cheap not-really-running-shoes in the first place, and gone straight for the proper ones. Hence the subject of the post, "buy cheap, buy twice".

  • I've been running over a year now with cheap shoes and haven't had any problems. I wish I could afford good ones, but I'm on a state pension so only have £20 a week to live on. My current pair cost me £13 reduced from around £50 from SportsDirect and seem perfectly okay to me - I've had them a few months and run three times a week for about 30 minutes. I don't run quickly at my age, it's more of a gentle jog.

  • Would insoles help rather than a pair of expensive running shoes? I do like Asics trainers though and have quite a few pairs. I'm using running shoes from them that cost about £70. And they are very comfy. It's whatever is best for the individual. I'm doing race for life in July but won't be wearing those trainers to do it in though in case it's muddy. I don't want to ruin them! So I have another pair of Asics that I will wear that are a bit worn but still have the support.

  • I had to laugh a bit at the part where you put you stood on a plate of glass so he could see your foot! I just hope you wern't wearing a skirt!!

  • He would have been in for a bigger shock if I had because he would have seen something that most people wearing skirts don't have! The two-day stubble on my chin would probably have been a give-away, though.

  • I don't think the price is important but having a gait analysis done is! I went to my local Sweatshop a couple of weeks ago ( I had just finished week 5 and was starting to get shin pain). Having suffered really horrible joint problems (not sport-related) in my early 30's, I really was concerned not to injure myself and do damage. The advice and level of attention I received was fantastic and my new shoes have made such a difference to my running. Me! Running! And loving it!! My advice to anyone starting out on this C25K lark would be don't risk your body by running in incorrect shoes. Happy running! xx

  • Choosing shoes is a bit of a lottery. If they are not comfortable then they are not right. Cheap shoes can be suitable for you just as expensive shoes may not be. I used to go out running in old cheap trainers, often on consecutive days with no warm up or pre stretching or cool down and post stretching. I started to get shin splints so bit the bullet, had a gait analysis and purchased the recommended running shoes at £100+. That was almost 6 months ago but the shin splints immediately developed and became so bad that it was painful to walk let alone run. Despite continually resting, doing stretching exercises i still could not run injury free or do more than one 5k run per week, previously i had been running 20 miles per week. I've now gone back to my old trainers which has allowed me to do an additional 5k run per week although with a lot of shin pain.

    If anyone does find the secret of buying the most suitable shoes please post but i'm not convinced that buying expensive always means buying well.

  • From what i have read, if you like these shoes, go ahead and buy another pair, or two, while you can still find them for less online. It will delay the unhappy time when these need replacing and you discover they are no longer made.

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