Guest Opinion: Expensive Running Shoes Are Good and You Should Go Buy Some

Editor's Note: The following is a guest column and does not reflect the views of Dumb Runner. 

iStockphoto.com

iStockphoto.com

By Jon Swift
President, National Association of Running Shoe Manufacturers

Like many of you, I've read about the recent survey suggesting that expensive running shoes don't work any better than cheaper ones, and that runners actually seem to rate cheaper shoes more favorably than expensive models.

This so-called study was "based on 134,867 reviews of 391 running shoes from 24 brands," and claimed to find that "the higher the list price, the lower ratings the running shoes get."

Allow me to offer a rebuttal to these findings: They are wrong. Expensive running shoes are better. How could they not be? They cost more money than cheaper models.

Things that cost a lot of money are better than things that don't cost a lot of money. This is Econ 101, folks, not to mention just plain, old common sense. Perhaps you've heard the little saying, "You get what you pay for?" 

Honestly, I can't even believe we're having this discussion.

Still need convincing? Consider the facts:

  • Clinical trials show that expensive running shoes have more, and better, features than cheaper ones.
  • Expensive shoes have up to 60% more technology and 75% more science than cheaper ones.
  • Things that cost a lot of money are better than things that don't cost a lot of money. I know I said that earlier, but it bears repeating.
  • Thousands of runners are known to have been injured while wearing cheaper shoes.

And since that other "study" used so many charts and graphs, here is one of my own.

Running Shoes: Enjoyability vs. Price

SOURCE: National Association of Running Shoe Manufacturers

I rest my case.

While we're at it, I understand that there are some ugly rumors floating around, claiming that running shoes may have a useful life beyond 350 to 500 miles, which everyone knows is how long running shoes last. This would be laughable if it weren't so alarming. Of course you need new running shoes every 350 to 500 miles. Because that is how long they last. Go look it up. It's common knowledge. 

In fact, are your current running shoes new enough? Are you sure? Are you so sure you're willing to risk your health over it?

Take it from me, my friends: The moment your running shoes hit the 350-mile mark, you are in what we in the shoe biz call "The Danger Zone." And not the good, Kenny Loggins type, either. We're talking about the every-step-brings-you-closer-to-the-precipice type. Will running more than 350 to 500 miles in your shoes cause the muscles, tendons, and ligaments in your feet to seize up and rupture? Possibly mid-run? Throwing you off balance and sending you stumbling headlong into the path of a cement mixer whose driver will have to live out the rest of his days knowing that he's responsible for someone's death?

Will today's run be the one that ends in disaster?

Maybe. But hey, you know what? Maybe not. Maybe that won't happen. Maybe you'll be fine, and you'll squeeze a few more miles out of your old, worn-out running shoes. 

Your call.

In closing, let me just say that if you take nothing else away from this column, take this bit of advice, and I mean it from the bottom of my heart:

Go buy expensive shoes.