Whether we’ve run in the exact same make and model of shoe for years or spent years trying to find the perfect shoe, we’ve all had it happen to us… Our most beloved running shoe of all time, gets an unwanted update.
In my 26 years of running I’ve had this happen a number of times. When I was younger I could pretty much run in any shoe, but that’s not the case now.
Here’s a fun story, in seventh grade when I joined the track team, my parents couldn’t afford to buy me shoes for more than one sport. Since basketball was my true love at that moment in time, I ran track in a pair of kid-sized Air Jordans. Man, did I love those shoes!
Now, I’m super picky about shoes and know what I like and don’t like about a shoe. Which means when I find the shoe of my dreams, I search high and low for a replacement shoe that’s similar in nature. I know I’m not alone in this quest. Finding a new shoe that works for you often means a larger collection of unwanted shoes and a smaller bank account.
With the right information, you may not have to spend as much money or waste as much time searching for your new perfect shoe.
I almost always have one Race Pace Runner who is on the lookout for new shoes, therefore I’m constantly keeping an eye out for a shoe that meets their needs. Most of the time, I’m able to identify a shoe that works best for them, saving them both time and money. Today, I’m sharing with you the criteria I use when making shoe recommendations so you can save money and time!*
I want to help you waste less time and spend less money identifying what shoes will work for you. Use these steps to narrow down your options and your frustrations.
#1. Identify these things about your current favorite running shoe model. Then select which of these things matter to you the most.
- Toe-to-heel drop
- Amount of cushion
- Amount of support
- Stack heights (you can eyeball this, you don’t have to pull out a measuring tape)
- Size and any sizing issues (i.e., a size 7 worked for half marathon training, but you needed a 7.5 for marathon training)
- Any changes you’d make to these shoes
#2: Make a list of shoe brands that you know generally fit your criteria (i.e., I need a shoe that comes in wide widths or is naturally a wider shoe or I need a shoe with a narrow heel). If you don’t know, it is easy to do some research just by googling or popping in your local running store to look at shoes.
#3: Identify which new shoes out on the market line up with your choices from step #1.
#4: Read running shoe review posts for the shoe(s) you’ve identified. You’ll most likely find a reviewer who shares your preference in running shoes. This will help when making other running shoe decisions in the future. Here’s a list of running shoe blogs I reference often:
#5: Narrow down your choices and select the shoe that you think best fits your needs. Try to find a retailer with a generous return policy that allows you to exchange or return shoes after running in them (I’ve had great experiences with both Nike and Road Runner Sports).
Things to avoid doing:
- Don’t stick with a specific brand just because it’s what you always wear. Updates to shoes happen often. Just because you love a specific brand doesn’t mean that brand is always going to make the right shoe for you.
- Don’t depend just on the salesperson at your local running shoe store. While they can be helpful and a good place to start, do your own research.
- Your needs change over time. You might actually do just as well or better in a different shoe.
- It’s fine to search eBay and every single online retailer so you can stock up on the old version of your favorite shoe. However, eventually you’ll have to find a new shoe. When you choose your new shoe, try to find something that’s new to the market so you don’t have to waste time searching for a new shoe again next year.
I’ve spent hours on my feet and searching the internet for running shoes that would work for me over the years, but this process has helped both myself and my Race Pace Runners waste less time and money.
* This list of recommendations assumes you are not looking for a completely different shoe, but you are looking for a shoe as similar to your current model as possible. If you are looking for a new shoe because of any sort of injury or discomfort you should consider seeking out a qualified professional to help you with the shoe selection process.