How To Get The Most Value From Your Running Shoes

by Travis Pizel · 10 comments

Running as a method of exercise is popular for many reasons. It burns a high amount of calories per minute, it’s something you can do alone or with friends, and you may already have most of the gear needed to get started immediately. Eventually, though, the most important piece of running equipment wears out and will need to be replaced.

I’m talking about the running shoes. Unfortunately, these can be surprisingly expensive. Good running shoes can cost anywhere from $60 to $200 or more. Here are some tips to help you buy the right running shoe at a great price and get the most life out of that shoe as possible.

What’s Your Type?

The first thing any runner should do is to have their stride analyzed. Buying the wrong running shoes can cause discomfort and frustration at best. At worst, you may end up paying for a doctor’s bill to diagnose and treat an injury. I speak from personal experience.

Most running specialty stores will do this for free by having a customer run on a treadmill. The employees at these stores are trained to look at your stride and tell you what kind of shoe would be most comfortable. Getting the right shoes will also prevent injury. You can then try on shoes to find brands and models that you like and are within the price range that you can afford.

Once you’ve done that, stop. Do NOT buy the shoes yet. Make note of the brand and model shoes that you liked because it’s time to go bargain hunting.

Check the Clearance Racks

Many running stores have a clearance rack to liquidate unpopular color schemes and last year’s models. For example, my shoe of choice is the Asics Gel Kayano. The current model is the Kayano 28 priced at $160. However, the store had a limited stock of last year’s Kayano 27s on clearance for $30 less. Note that the model number is incremented each year. Thus to get last year’s model, simply subtract one from the model number. The only difference between last year’s and the current model may be some minor tweaks and new color schemes. If you’re looking to save some money, last year’s model will serve you just fine.

Go Online

Not only can you find great sales, but the previous year’s model can be found online as well. I searched Amazon and found the Kayano 28 for $120 (25% discount) and the Kayano 27 for $110 (31% discount). It also comes with free shipping. Again, your color choice and sizes may be limited for previous models, but it’s worth looking into in order to save some money.

BOGO Sales

Buy One Get One Half Off sales seem to be gaining popularity. One local shoe store runs a constant buy one get one half off sale. There’s no time limit, so I just save my receipt and the next family member that needs shoes automatically gets them for half price. If I use the sale to purchase two pairs of my shoes, I would pay $160 + $80 = $240 for two pairs of shoes or an average of $120 per pair. Check the shoe stores in your area that may have similar promotions.

Shoe Rotation

As a runner, you have to be very mindful of the condition of your shoes. The support and cushioning degrade over time. Most shoes provide 300-500 miles of running life. Personally, I start feeling aches and pains in my legs as my shoes approach the 400-mile mark, or after about 15 weeks of use. That’s not a long lifetime for shoes that may cost over $100, so I use something called “shoe rotation” to get the most for my running shoe purchase.

  • Running Shoes (Weeks 1-15): They’re new, with lots of support and cushion for running.
  • Every Day Shoes (Weeks 16-30): The shoes are past their prime, but they’re still fine for walking around in every day.
  • Work Shoes (Weeks 31-45): These are the shoes I use to mow lawn, do yard work, paint, or anything other activity where I don’t care if they get scuffed or stained.

When I buy a new pair of running shoes, my current shoes get rotated to the next category and my current work shoes get thrown away.

Running for exercise doesn’t require a lot of gear, but the right shoes can be expensive and they wear out quicker than most people realize. By utilizing these shopping tips you can get the most running shoe for your money. Add in a shoe rotation methodology and it can help runners extend their usefulness even more.

Are you a runner that spends a lot on running shoes? Do you have any additional tips to save on running shoes?

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{ read the comments below or add one }

  • Steveark says:

    Great tips, now if you could just get the shoe manufacturers to quit “improving” their shoes so that the exact same size and model of shoes that fit last year feel completely different in the next year’s model!

  • ChrisCD says:

    I’m with Beagle – if you are going to use the store’s expertise, buy the shoes from them. After all, could Amazon sell the shoes at 31% off if they sent someone to your house to offer professional advice, first? I’m pretty sure you know the answer.

    • Travis @enemyofdebt says:

      The store gets plenty of business from me. I may buy my shoes elsewhere (sometimes I do, sometimes the store actually offers the best price), but I buy my running fuel, body glide, and quite a bit of running attire from them.

  • Beagle says:

    I definitely need to get my stride looked at. I think the reason that I haven’t is that I would likely feel guilty about leaving and looking for my shoes elsewhere, which makes perfect financial sense, but it’s akin to how many people these days look at something in the store and then go home and order it on Amazon, eventually putting the stores out of business.

    • Travis @enemyofdebt says:

      I can understand your hesitation…..but you don’t necessarily HAVE to buy them somewhere else…it could be that the same place that does your stride analysis will have shoes you like at a great price. Plus, remember, you only have to have your stride analyze very infrequently. If you feel like it’s only right that you buy your shoes from the store after having them give you expert advice, by all means do so. But when you have to buy the next pair of shoes (weeks or a few months later), I don’t think there’s anything to feel bad about if you buy somewhere else.

      • Desiree Perez says:

        I agree with what you write here; however, these stores are offering the latest and most innovative shoes–they are simply charging for research and development–which takes time.

        Moreover, if the latest shoes are too expensive, the clearance rack is almost always there with last year’s shoe, as Travis notes.


  • RICARDO says:

    If you need counsel then pay for it. Otherwise no one will be there to help you in the future.
    Having said that, there are not very many sales people who can actually analyse a gait and make a valid suggestion. If you find one you will be lucky.
    Other than that, if you already know what you want then there are usually expos set up at running events offering discount pricing straight from the local stores. Sometimes these are last years models but that does not matter very much, except for pricing. Saving 40% because you go to the expo is well woirth it. You do not actually have to be registered in the race.


    • Travis @enemyofdebt says:

      Great tip on going to running expo to get a great deal on shoes! As far as whether sales people can analyze a gait, I disagree. I went into the store, and they actually recorded my running on an Ipad. They then replayed it on a big screen in slow motion. The employee showed me how my right foot struck the treadmill surface all at the same time, then showed me how my left foot came in angled, and rolled. With that in mind, she suggested the right kind of shoe. Haven’t had any problems with my feet, ankles, or knees since!

      • ChrisCD says:

        We must go to the same store. They basically did the same thing, except it was actually an hour long class where first they video taped and watched us and then we worked on some drills and then taped us again. :O)

        I do buy many of the the products I use besides shoes from them. They actually don’t carry the shoes I am looking for, for next purchase, sadly.

        cd :O)

        • Travis @enemyofdebt says:

          Wow, that’s awesome…..I can’t get enough advice on how to improve my running efficiency or to help control my pronation. Thanks for reading and commenting!

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