With Spring comes running season, and many would-be runners will be looking for a new pair of running shoes. And let's face it, the good ones aren't exactly cheap! Whether you're a hardcore marathoner or just heading our for a leisurely jog around your neighborhood, getting the best deal on running shoes isn't just about saving money - it's also about finding the right pair for you.
1. Buy your first pair at a local running store.
Go to your local running store, the kind that does a gait analysis and personalizes their shoe recommendations accordingly. This is not a thing to skimp on. Chances are good that you'll pay full price, but part of what you're buying here is intel that keeps your feet healthy and which you can use for years to come.
Think of it like Harry Potter choosing a wand at Ollivander's. It had to be the right wand, the perfect wand. Harry didn't know one wand from another, but Ollivander did, and together they found the perfect wand for Harry.
You are Harry walking into Ollivander's, of course. Except that it's a running shop in downtown Cleveland or wherever it is that you live. While Nike, Under Armour, New Balance, Saucony and Brooks are all good brands, everyone's feet are different. Getting the right shoes can be the difference between achieving a personal best at your next race versus dropping out 3 weeks into training with some nasty runner's knee. Quality and fit matter, and you'll benefit from that professional advice your first time out.
Once you find the right shoes in-store, though, there are a couple things you can do to possibly get a better deal. Ask if they have any of last year's model left in stock, or if they have any coupons available.
You could always feign indecision and skip out in favor of finding a better deal online, but as frugal as we are here, that's just tacky.
2. Do not ever choose fashion over function.
All brand messaging to the contrary, running shoes are NOT a fashion statement. They're safety equipment for your feet that keep you from hurting yourself. If you can find a color you like within the line that's best for you, fantastic! But choosing running shoes because they're pretty is just as potentially dangerous as choosing them because they're cheap.
So put those super cute shoes down. Yes, they're cute. I know, but just do it. You're not going to care what they look like at the end of a less-than-fantastic run when your blistered feet are screaming bloody murder at you. All you'll want then is to chuck them in the nearest garbage bin, fashion be damned.
3. Always be on the lookout for your next pair.
Running shoes need to be replaced every 300-500 miles. So if you're jogging 2 miles 4 days a week, that works out to roughly a 15 month life span for your shoes if you're pushing the upper end of that range. If you're training for a marathon, you'll wear them out a lot faster. Track your mileage. Or at least keep an eye on your treads.
Several years ago, a salesperson at my local running store put me in a pair of Brooks Ghost shoes that I absolutely love, so when one of our editors posted a Finish Line deal on a closeout model last year I immediately sprang into action. I wasn't ready for a new pair, but that didn't matter. I stashed them in the top of my closet until they were ready to be retired.
Truth be told, I let the tread get way too worn on my old pair. But it was awesome that I had a new pair, bought on sale months earlier, already waiting in the wings!
And that's the bottom line here, really. Don't wait until your current running shoes are worn out to go looking for your next pair. Once you know what shoes work best for you, set up price alerts. Subscribe to email newsletters from running stores that carry your shoes to look for sales. Keep an eye on the shoe deals at Brad's Deals. And when you see them on sale, buy them. Heck, buy two pairs and stash them in your closet. It's not like they're going to go bad or expire, and you know you're going to need them down the road.
This article first appeared in Brad's Deals.