Are expensive running shoes worth it?

Feels like ive caught a running bug of some sort and believe i need to treat this medical condition with a good pair of running shoes.

You can buy running shoes anywhere between £7 - 150 and beyond, but at what price range do they become worth the price tag? Most will say you get what you pay for but in my experience thats not always the case. The shoes I bought to start the C25K were £12 which seemed OK to start with but turned out to be slightly different sizes. I didnt notice till after a few weeks running in them. I had a funny pain in one of my muscles and wondered if this was because of my big toe being slightly curled. I had bought some fell running shoes to do a mud run this September and thought I would give them a try. These felt loads better than the running shoes and also eliminated my niggling pain. These were an absolute bargain for £20, worth every penny and more.

So why am I thinking of new shoes if I found a pair that I can run in? Well its back to trying to limit some pains I still have and im not sure if its the shoes or not. My main discomfort is my ankles. They have ached every run from start to finish. Not a serious ache but noticeably uncomfortable and I thought it would have shifted by now. My second pain is sort of expected and its more of a cramp than a constant pain in my calves(carf's?). My second run of this week(7r2) is the first time ive had to stop running(after 20mins) because they were so bad. It made me question weather it could be the shoes as these were made for rough and softer terrain and im running on tarmac.

Looking at the hundreds of running shoes online I can see its going to be difficult to make a choice. Its not till you reach the higher priced end of running shoes that you get any indepth reviews. Living on a budget, its hard for me to justify spending anything over £40 for footwear. At the moment im looking at running shoes at around the £80 range but not sure if its worth it. So im hoping someone on here who is a more seasoned runner could help me decide if paying double what I would normally pay is justifiable.


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10 Replies

  • I found that getting good shoes made a real difference to my knees.

    I started in some old Nike Airs (really, probably 10 years old, maybe more) and they were fine for running but I think they were jarring my knees. After deciding that I was going to stick with this for a while, I went to Runners Need in London and got fitted for some Asics gel nimbus and my knee discomfort went completely. My muscles were still sore but I didn't get the joint pain again. Those were around £120 IIRC.

    I have only this one experience to draw on, but it certainly seemed to make a difference to me. Whether a £50 pair would have made the same difference is hard to say but I would recommend against really cheap or old running shoes, especially if you start to get any joint discomfort.


  • Yep, i also got the nimbus!

  • I think if you consider spending money on a first pair of potentially expensive shoes you really should go to a running shop. This is especially appropriate if you have aches as getting your gait checked to make sure you buy shoes that provide the correct support. Once you know which shoes are right for you, you may be able to buy future pairs online. I suggest you look for a slighty larger shop that may have some models in the sale so you don't have to pay top prices. Is there a runners need near you (they tend to be part of snow & rock stores).

  • This is exactly the plan I used - paid full price for the first pair at RN because I didn't know what I needed. When they were good, I saw them on sale at Sports Direct and picked up another pair for £50 less. Still expensive shoes, however.

    My take on it was that I'm going to be using these as a leisure activity - if they do me 400 miles (they should do at least that hopefully) then that's around 4000 minutes, or 67 hours of solid running. £2 and hour is not fortune to pay. It's cheaper than the cinema, or going to the pool etc. No escaping, however, that it's a large amount to find up-front.

  • If you can possibly afford it, get to a running shop and get a gait analysis done. I went to RN, again and ended up with a pair of Adidas Energy Boost which were on sale for about £75 (i.e. they didn't try and push the most expensive shoes in the shop on me). I saw the same shoes some 3 months later in an Adidas factory store outlet - they were more expensive in the outlet store! By getting a gait analysis done you can work out what kind of support you need from your footwear. This can avoid you making some very expensive long term mistakes.

  • Again, I would say it depends on your needs. My husband has neutral gait, no joint / muscle issues etc. and he wears running shoes in the £45 ish range (usually were £60 reduced!). My kids also run in Karrimor that were as cheap as chips. Given they are doing so much running next time I will 'upgrade' them but probably only into the £20 to £25 range.

    During the programme I had every ache imaginable and, whilst I was running in a very old pair of cheap Nike, I don't think it was the shoes. I think it was my body getting used to running. As I ran more and more though I could feel I needed something 'better'. On graduating, I went to have my gait analysed and I have a slight inward roll on one root and a legacy knee problem I need to be cautious of. Thus, I need very supportive shoes. I ended up getting Saucony's that were £70 (last season so reduced from £85). They are fab and worth every penny. I have also treated myself to some trail shoes. After lots and lots and lots of research I managed to get Brooks PureGrit for £30 (were £100). I do benefit from having small feet (size 4) but the PureGrit were also available in the size 5 to 7 range at that price too. The gait analysis is the real investment as once you know what suits you can research online for future pairs and get the sale bargains.

    Keep stretching and RICE post runs and give it another couple of weeks. Also, maybe try running on softer ground. On graduating, see how you are feeling and go and have the gait analysed to see if you do have any specific needs that would require expensive shoes :) It may all settle down and you could be fine buying in the simpler end of the range.

    Good Luck with the running (and the shoes) :)

  • I would say you are going about it the wrong way round. Go and have your gait and style analysed and find out what sort of shoes you need, then look for a pair in your price range that fit those criteria.

    Choosing running shoes based on price and hoping they might coincide with what you need offers a low chance of success, statistically.

  • I had a gait analysis at runners need recently and chose the gel nimbus also. the assistant did a price match and they came down considerably :)

  • I will say something that is maybe heretical. I have a very odd gait. A few years ago I shattered my femur and fractured my pelvis. As a consequence one of my feet points more or less straight forward (the one on the leg with all the breaks which was put back together straight) but the other naturally points outwards at 45 degrees. Shoes that control my feet feel very odd. Instead I tried Asics Gel Zaraca which is a neutral natural shoe (very flexible sole, no cushioning apart form the heel) but still a big heel-toe drop (1cm). I am now running in Freet Leap 4+1's which is not too far from running barefoot and much, much cheaper than Vibram. I don't get any joint pain, just muscle pain but that seems OK to me - the muscles have been used a lot and the pain goes away pretty quickly. If you haven't already adapted to big-shoe running then think about minimal shoes that mimic barefoot running and make forefoot contacts easy. I am currently on C25K week 7. Works for me...

  • Best thing I ever did (athletic-wise) was to buy some decent running shoes. Yeah, I kit myself out with some nice shirts and shorts, but they're all fluff. Im on my third pair of Brooks' now, I change them roughly every 500 miles and I wouldn't dream of running in discount no-brand trainers. I had a gait analysis and I don't regret it for a moment. The price? About £80 to £100. The price of running in cheap trainers? Ten quid plus damaged joints, pain and months on the IC.

    Honestly, good shoes are an investment. Any of the ladies here will tell you that, surely 😜

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