What are The Best Running Shoes? It Might Not be What you Think!
Your knees are a touch sore, or maybe your lower back. Your beloved, best running shoes have about 400 miles on them. You know it’s time for new running shoes. When you walk into your favorite running specialty store, do you immediately go for style, for substance or for price?
Jens Jakob Andersen of RunRepeat.com has just completed a new study that compares the prices and reviews of 391 running shoes from 24 brands based on the 134,867 reviews on his site. The results, he says, left him “speechless.”
Andersen found a strong inverse correlation between the price of the shoe and the average rating – the higher the price, the lower the rating! Combing through the reviews on his site, and then comparing prices, he found:
- Skechers, Saucony and Vibram FiveFingers are the best rated brands while Reebok, Adidas and Hoka One One are bottom performers.
- Skechers, Vivobarefoot and Puma are the cheapest brands and Hoka One One, Newton and On are the most expensive ones.
- Running shoes from running specialist brands are rated 2.8% higher than running shoes from broad sports brands (Nike, Adidas etc.).
Andersen goes on to state that
[m]ost often brands promote premium running shoes since that is where the margins are best. Therefore the premium shoes are most popular. Unfortunately this compromises the consumer, who would be better off with a more affordable running shoe that generally has better ratings.
Comfort may be King
A new study, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine and highlighted on the The New York Times Well blog, seems to corroborate Andersen’s findings. Benno Nigg, the lead author, and his colleagues sought to examine the relationship between running shoes and running injuries, and whether or not the former influences the latter.
Rather than confirming that overpronators need to be in stability shoes, or that barefoot running is the only way to go, Dr. Nigg and his colleagues found that the most important determinant in a running shoe is comfort. He writes, “…a runner intuitively selects a comfortable product using their own comfort filter that allows them to remain in the preferred movement path.” In fact, they say, running shoes designed to fix a problem may be ineffective and/or actually cause harm.
Price, color, correction, brand – none of these seem to matter as much as how the actual shoe feels on your foot. Shocking, right?! As you shop for your next pair of shoes, let that feeling be your guide.
Take a look at the complete infographic below and determine what are the best running shoes money can buy. Click to enlarge.
The Shoes I love
Personally, I’ve tried pretty much every shoe. I’ve tried minimalist Altras and the maximalist HOKA ONE ONEs. I refused to stop wearing my Newton Fates, even though they were causing me low back pain. I once bought 5 pairs of New Balance 1080 v3 shoes because I loved them so much. For awhile, I settled on the neutral Pearl Izumi N2s, and happily ran 1000+ miles in them. (Multiple pairs, of course.) Then a gait analysis found some overpronation on my left side, so I switched the the stability version. I hated those, and gave them to a friend.
I’ve tried shoes hoping they would make me faster. I’ve tried shoes hoping they would help with my low back pain. I’ve tried shoes because all the cool kids are wearing them. Recently, I was gifted a pair of Brooks Launch 2 shoes. The second I slid them on, I felt like Cinderella with her glass slipper. I felt like Goldilocks with her just-right bowl of porridge and bed. These shoes felt so incredibly comfortable. And now I want to go guy 8 pairs.
What do you think? How do you decide on the best running shoes for your? What factors are most important to you?