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The trouble (at least for small running shops) is that sale shoes can now be found all over the internet, partially because many running shoe brands are also dumping their unsold models from previous years to discount sites online. Heck, the internet is one ginormous sale table if you know how to click your way through it and have the time to do it.
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Major online running retailers like Run.com, Running Warehouse, Fleet Feet Sports, Road Runner Sports, RunningShoes.com and Zombie Runner typically keep current in-line shoes at the same MSRP, but most of those sites also have pages of closeout shoes too.
Colleen Brough, DPT, is an assistant professor of rehabilitation and regenerative medicine at Columbia University Irving Medical Center and director of the Columbia RunLab. Brough answered our questions on the relationship between running shoes and injuries, as well as how tools like gait analysis factor into finding the right pair of shoes.
Carson Caprara is vice president of footwear product line management and merchandising at Brooks. Caprara provided insight on how a large running-shoe company strategizes its approach to shoe updates and innovations.
Mariska van Sprundel is a science writer and author of Running Smart: How Science Can Improve Your Endurance and Performance. Van Sprundel answered our questions about the factors one should consider when choosing a pair of running shoes.
Amy Roberts is a running coach twice over (certified by USA Track & Field and the Road Runners Club of America) and a regionally competitive runner in the mile and 5K. She is a forefoot striker who tends to prefer lightweight, minimal shoes with a low drop (more on that soon). She is 5-foot-5 and wears a size 8 shoe.
According to the Sports & Fitness Industry Association, approximately 50 million people in the US laced up their trainers for some form of running or jogging in 2019. That same year, according to Running USA (PDF), 17.6 million Americans registered for road races. In 2020, as the pandemic changed exercise habits (and canceled many races), a running boom emerged, prompting new and renewed runners to head outside to log socially distanced miles. Now, with the easing of pandemic restrictions in many places and a return to in-person racing, a relative sense of normalcy has been restored.
The shoes in this guide would also be fine choices for those who walk for fitness and for injured runners who are eager to keep moving. These running shoes may not be your first choice for use at the gym, however: For that purpose, many people likely prefer shoes that are flatter (for weightlifting) or that have less side-to-side support (for easier movement in every direction, such as for an aerobics or boot-camp class).
So how do you decide what to buy for your feet? Experts recommend that you start with neutral shoes. Move to stability shoes only if you feel like you want more support (some runners may simply prefer the feel of a less-flexible, more-stable shoe) or if a doctor or physical therapist suggests them.
Approximately 90% of race runners are heel strikers, according to various studies. When heel strikers run, each foot lands heel first and then rolls through the toe. A smaller percentage of runners are midfoot or forefoot strikers, which means they land through the middle of the foot or on the toes, respectively, when they run. Most running shoes have a higher heel-to-toe drop with a thicker, cushioned heel that protects the foot during heel striking, since that design feels better for the majority-ruling heel strikers.
Ground feel: Running shoes need to protect your feet from the ground. However, you should be able to feel some irregularities underfoot, too, so you can micro-correct and not, say, twist an ankle.
Amy Roberts is a certified personal trainer (NASM-CPT), a running coach (USATF Level 1), and a regionally competitive runner. She also served as a staff writer for the Good Housekeeping Institute for nearly five years, working closely with the engineers and other scientists to interpret product test results.
Even more painful was that I had just been professionally outfitted with new running shoes at a boutique specialty store, which gave me the same advice that most shops (or a quick Google search) will offer: measure your foot arch, measure how much your feet turn in (pronate) when you run and select "neutral," "stability" or "motion control" shoes accordingly.
I had expected this careful shopping to ward off the knee, joint and tendon pain that so often sidelines runners. Betrayed, I put my science training to work and began digging into published studies about running shoes, only to be surprised by what I read: There's little scientific evidence that choosing a shoe type to match your foot shape can prevent injuries.
For instance, in a series of studies performed on military recruits, those who were given motion control, stability, or neutral shoes based on their arch height did not fare any differently injury-wise than those who were all given stability shoes. Furthermore, another study found that running in motion-control shoes led to more injuries and put runners in more pain, regardless of their foot type. Although one study exists suggesting that motion-control shoes might reduce injuries in runners who over-pronate, the consensus seems to be that the way most people choose their running shoes is not science-based at all.
A study led by Stanford bioengineer Scott Delp, PhD, and sports medicine physician Michael Fredericson, MD, looked at running form rather than shoes, exploring whether training runners to strike the ground first with the forefoot rather than the heel could reduce injuries. Sure enough, the forefoot-striking test subjects put less force on their shins and joints when running, likely preventing injuries over time. And that's just one of several recent reports finding that improving running form can keep runners on the road and out of the physical therapist's office.
Now that I've returned to running (in non-stability shoes this time), I only wish I had thought to do my homework before visiting the store. Maybe my science training could have saved me from having to learn things the hard way.
RunRepeat offers an extensive collection of running shoes from brands that boast of models with high-quality performance and leading shoe technologies. Thanks to our partner retailers, we are able to offer you the best deals.
Whether you are a serious sprinter or new to the course, you are sure to need sound support for your feet if you are a runner. But where are the tried and true spots for running shoes? No need to hit the pavement in search of the best Minnesota-based stores. These picks are local winners in the race for best.
Gear West popped up in the western suburbs in the early '90s and has since been a staple for Minnesota runners. They carry shoes for adults and kids, and accessories such as packs and sunglasses. Gear West also provides services like training programs and g