Recommendations for high-quality running shoes.
September 9, 2010 2:55 PM   Subscribe

Need help with recommendations for high quality running shoes.

I'm going to be taking up running very soon, after I'm all healed up from surgery. I've never really done any running since I was a kid due to extremely large breasts which are getting reduced next week. Running is something I've always wanted to take up, but couldn't. So needless to say, I'm really excited and a friend of mine said he was going to give me some money ($80) towards a nice pair of running shoes. I don't even know where to start and would like some recommendations for shoes that are non-leather and cost less than $200.
posted by MaryDellamorte to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (27 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
shoes that are non-leather

Good news. Most running shoes are entirely synthetic these days.

cost less than $200.

More good news. Most running shoes are well under that.

To get you started, Runner's World has handy shoe guides and a shoe finder. After you've found some good candidates, go to your local running store and try some on. Try to go to a place that has a treadmill or a suitable area where you can run around in the shoes for a while. Don't forget to get proper, breathable non-cotton socks, and try the shoes on in those socks.
posted by jedicus at 3:04 PM on September 9, 2010 [2 favorites]

The place to start is a local store dedicated to sellling running shoes and related gear. They'll analyze your gait and help you select the shoes that are appropriate for you. The fanciest of these places will put you on a treadmill and shoot video of your gait, then analyze it. The less fancy places will still have a knowledgable person watch you run down the block to analyze your gait. You can expect to pay a bit more for your shoes at one of these places than at a Footlocker or other mall shoe store, but IT IS WORTH IT.

No recommendation you can receive here will be even remotely as useful, as we have no way of knowing whether you over-pronate, under-pronate, etc. The shoes that are perfect for me might give you shin splints or knee problems, etc. etc.

If you can't find an appropriate store on your own, a local running club (like these people, perhaps) should be able to guide you.
posted by dersins at 3:07 PM on September 9, 2010 [5 favorites]

I really, really recommend finding a locally-owned running-oriented (not Foot Locker) footwear shop and get yourself fitted properly. There are hundreds of styles of running shoes out there, and knowledgeable fitters will watch you walk barefoot and point you in the right direction for something in your budget and your criteria.

There are just way too many variables to take into account, and running in poorly-fitting shoes is a recipe for disaster.
posted by ambrosia at 3:07 PM on September 9, 2010

Wow, I never knew that you had to get fitted for running shoes! Awesome, that probably makes it easier then. Now all I need to do is find a local shoe store.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 3:10 PM on September 9, 2010

I love Brooks shoes, specifically the Adrenaline. They cost $100, and I think they're made with synthetic leather.

But your feet and my feet might not be anything alike. Considering that people on the Internet don't know anything about your gait or your feet, it's going to be extremely difficult to get good online advice about this. I highly, highly recommend going to a running store (not a big-box SportsMart or whatever) and getting a fitting. This literally changed my running life.

Maybe (sorry, peeking in your profile) this place? People like the chain of running stores RoadRunner, which has a fancy treadmill you run on and they "analyze" your gait, but I've not been impressed with their staff's interpretations of my results. A real person who watches you run, preferably on the sidewalk outside the store, in my experience, will be the only way to get a great answer to this question.
posted by purpleclover at 3:10 PM on September 9, 2010

As a former employee of a reputable running store:
'Good' running shoes are only good if they are right for your feet and your body. If you are a pronator (roll in) or a supinator (roll out) or neutral, you will need different shoes. About 70% of the population pronates, but then there are lots of degrees. Really, you need to just go to a reputable shoe store where staff know their stuff, and get them evaluate your gait and fit you properly

As a person who got a breast reduction:
Congratulations! I had mine about 10 years ago, and i still list it as one of the best decisions i've ever made for myself. The recovery is no joke, but when you're done, you're going to feel fantastic. Good job on taking up running! What a great way to take advantage of your new future new body! :)
posted by Kololo at 3:12 PM on September 9, 2010

On preview: D'oh.

Seconding jedicus's suggestion for proper, noncotton socks. They're pricey ($15! a! pair!), but they've also markedly improved my running experience.
posted by purpleclover at 3:14 PM on September 9, 2010

Go to a good running store (avoid the usual places in the mall and find out where the runners go in your area) and they'll set you up. A really good running store will get you running on a treadmill for a few minutes to check you gait, and will inspect your old shoes to see where you are making contact with the ground.
posted by synecdoche at 3:18 PM on September 9, 2010

I'm going to say two things that contradict each other:

First, I agree with many of the comments above that it's a good idea to go to your local running store and buy a good pair of running shoes. There are many 'good' brands--but what's good for your feet will be different than what's good for someone else's. You can easily get these shoes for under $200. Maybe $100 or so is a good guess.

Next, some people think that running shoes are the cause of many running injuries, but there's not really evidence that cushioned shoes are especially good or bad for you.

Which is to say: don't worry too much about getting exactly the supremo perfect pair of shoes. More important is to work up to distances slowly, stretch after you run, and don't run if you injure yourself. Good luck!
posted by bluedaisy at 3:56 PM on September 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

Another vote for a local running store. See if you can find some runners to ask. If you go to one store and don't find the perfect shoe, another running store in your area may carry different brands.

My favorite running shoe is made by Saucony and ran me around $80. Totally worth it!
posted by amanda at 4:04 PM on September 9, 2010

Yeah, definitely go get your arches/running gait looked at by a legit running shop. Only they will be able to tell you what shoes will work best for you.

Just for reassurance's sake, I've had running shoes from three of the 'top' brands and not only were they all well below $200 ($110 Brooks, $90 Mizunos, $125 Asics), they were all completely synthetic.
posted by cosmic osmo at 4:08 PM on September 9, 2010

I just wanted to pop my head in and say that even after your reduction, make sure to get a good sports bra -- if your cup size is C or above, you'll probably want one that has both compression and encapsulation (i.e. squishes you in and separately supports each breast). I like Moving Comfort's sports bras a lot, especially for running. I'd say that the discovery of awesome sports bras that contain my boobs has changed my running life even more than the discovery of good running stores :)

For an actual answer to the question you asked: Nth-ing all the people suggesting getting properly fitted at a local running store. But really pay attention to how the shoe feels on your foot when you're testing it out, too. It's amazing how things change after just a few miles: the (in the store) almost imperceptible rubbing of a shoe that's just a teensy bit too narrow? After running 3 miles away from your home, it can quickly turn the other half of your run into an agonizing death-march complete with dime-sized blisters.

The non-cotton sock suggestion is good too. If you can afford it, get a couple different pairs at first, some thicker and some thinner, and see which you prefer. I have a gross problem where I tend to sweat a lot between my toes and get huge blisters from it, so I really like Injinji toe socks (I get the Performance kind -- they're $12 a pair. They feel weird as hell the first time you try on a pair, but I really love them, to the point where I refuse to run any farther than a 5K in any other kind of socks.
posted by kataclysm at 4:10 PM on September 9, 2010

My strategy is to get fitted, suck it up and pay ~$130 for a nice pair, and then take that knowledge and buy my next pair online for (usually) about 60% of the in-store price.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 4:30 PM on September 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

I looooove my Vibram Fivefingers - definitely take a look at them if you can. They're weird as hell but they're great, and they're the only shoes I've found that let me run without knee pain.
posted by restless_nomad at 4:33 PM on September 9, 2010

I saw a running shoe report in a very recent "Consumer Reports," as I recall.
posted by fivesavagepalms at 4:38 PM on September 9, 2010

What dersins said, every word of it.
posted by the_blizz at 5:18 PM on September 9, 2010

I highly recommend the Saucony ProGrid Kinvaras. They are a very light (7 ounces), neutral shoe.
posted by highfidelity at 5:22 PM on September 9, 2010

I'm a Vibram wearer also. It is a style of running in addition to a shoe, which makes them a transition for most people. Still, I have to say, coming in new you won't be able to run very far to begin with anyway, you might do best just starting from scratch in vibrams.
posted by ch1x0r at 5:37 PM on September 9, 2010

Nthing the advice to go to a running-specific store and get fitted there.
posted by box at 5:38 PM on September 9, 2010

Definitely get fitted at a running store; it's absolutely worth it. You may even be a different size in running shoes than in street shoes - people often go up a full size.

I've gone through numerous pairs of Asics GT-21x0 over the years (where x goes up every couple years when they tweak the design) and like them, and so do zillions of other people, judging from how often I see the same shoes on other runners. They may not be right for you, though.

Also definitely get a high-impact sports bra; I like Moving Comfort too. It makes a world of difference. Many of the running stores I've been to carry good bras, so you might be able to get everything in one trip.

Congratulations/good luck on the surgery! I hope you love running.
posted by Metroid Baby at 6:01 PM on September 9, 2010

I love Salomon's trail running shoes but I have really high arches. I usually go to Sports Basement but it doesn't look like there's one in your area. I find the shoe brands they carry to all be pretty good (Saucony, Brooks, Salomon, New Balance) and they'll diagnose your gait.
posted by benzenedream at 6:28 PM on September 9, 2010

What I did for my last pair of running shoes is to try them on in the store and run around for a bit. Got a few strange looks though.

Good shoes can make all the difference in how much you enjoy running, but all important is to START SLOW. New runners tend to burn out by pushing themselves too much too early. You'll have plenty of time to build up to that 5k/10k.
posted by ianK at 7:00 PM on September 9, 2010

Thanks for all the advice. My friend who offered to pitch in for shoes is also an avid runner so he'll know how to start me off with the running and I'm sure he knows of a good shoe shop. I can't explain how excited I am about this endeavor and about my new life after surgery. As excited as I am about this running, I'm more excited about the idea of finally being able to wear button up shirts!
posted by MaryDellamorte at 8:09 PM on September 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

I've really been enjoying my Vibram Bikilas over for nearly a month now. Landing lightly but solidly has lessened my knee discomfort.
posted by bonobothegreat at 9:47 PM on September 9, 2010

n'thing dersins. My personal favorite shop is a wee little Fleet Feet shop on the main drag in Hoboken, NJ. I've been going there almost 10 years now, although now I can only visit them to stock up on a couple pairs (Asics Gel Kayanos for me) and have them properly fitted.

You won't be able to do this for your very first pair, but here's a pro-tip for when you go for your first set of replacements: take in your old shoes. A good shop will be able to examine how you've worn down the heels and that will play into their analysis of what's best for you next time.

Enjoy the running - start slow and remember to stretch after to keep the tightness away.
posted by allkindsoftime at 12:32 AM on September 10, 2010

You can expect to pay a bit more for your shoes at one of these places than at a Footlocker or other mall shoe store, but IT IS WORTH IT.

If you can find a good store, it is indeed SO worth it. I went through a few pairs (from the same shop), each of which was incrementally better than the last. Eventually I found the Brooks Adrenaline series, which pretty much fit my feet perfectly.

About once a year, I order a new pair online. It's usually a bit cheaper than going to the store, considering that I already know exactly what I want. I'm on the mailing list for Kelly's Running Warehouse, and order from them when they're having a sale.*

This is primarily for the benefit of other people reading this thread. Seriously, go get fitted. A good pair of shoes can transform running from a painful chore into a blissful experience. Everybody has different feet -- mine are evidently somewhat freakish in proportions, as it took me quite some time to find shoes that fit well.

While looking through receipts in my GMail, I noticed that I've ordered a pair of Brooks Adrenaline running shoes and a pair of Reef Contour Smoothy sandals once a year without fail, every year since I've had my GMail account. If you want a footwear endorsement, I suppose that's as good of one as I have to offer.

posted by schmod at 9:46 AM on September 10, 2010

As long as you're comfortable in them and you run in good form, the shoes don't really matter. Take the shoes out for a brief run around the block and see how comfortable you are in them. Good shoe stores allow you to do that.

Getting fitted is a good idea. Beware however that the shoes are no substitute for proper running form.
I had my first running shoes fitted with motion control and other bells and whistles. I never had more running injuries in my life.

I would suggest getting 2 different pairs though. Rotating shoes could lessen chances of injury by the simple of virtue of exposing your feet to slightly different stresses introduced by different shoes as opposed to the same stresses day after day after day.
And some people swear that it extends the life of the shoes as well.
posted by 7life at 11:00 AM on September 10, 2010

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