Shoe Reviews

First Run Back
Image by crossn81 via Flickr

I’ve often thought that the shoe reviews in Runners World and other running magazines were fairly useless.  I guess if you understand everything about your foot and shoes then it might be helpful.  But I would agree with others that it has become more of a marketing scheme than really useful information.  But if I were offered a free pair of shoes to review, I’d be happy to test them out.

I came across this recent posting at Running Times: No Need for Shoe Awards that talked about why RT doesn’t give out shoe awards or have a special shoe issue.  Below are two great quotes:

The primary reason Running Times doesn’t present quarterly awards is because “editor’s choice” and “best new shoe” awards don’t serve the readers who might be in the process of figuring out which new shoes to buy. It’s based either on one person’s specific viewpoint of a shoe, the general or numerical consensus of a wear-test group or a collection of vague and very general shoe characteristics that the magazine deems “best.” But best for what type of runner or gait or running style is it best? That’s not meant to be overly harsh toward magazines that do give awards; while those awards are probably just meant to be a guidance tool for readers, the problem we have is that they could be giving improper guidance to an eager runner who thinks they really need a shoe that a magazine calls the latest and greatest instead of letting his or her body tell them what works best.

So why do we publish shoe reviews in the first place? Ideally, it’s a way to inform our passionate readers about what’s out there so they can decide for themselves what works best for them. (Similar to how we publish stories about training plans from a variety of athletes and coaches. Take new ideas and apply them to your personal running experience.) Our shoe guides are intended to offer insights as to what will be available at stores, while also touching on industry trends that might (or might not) improve your running.

The bottom line is that the way to find the best shoe for you is to do so by “feel” based on how you run and not how a shoe feels when you’re sitting on a bench in the store or when you’re wearing it for everyday life — school, work, chores, errands, going to the mall, etc. (And by the way, you shouldn’t be wearing your running shoes for anything but running. Walking breaks down shoes differently and more quickly and can ultimately lower the performance value of those shoes or alter your gait ever so slightly. If you like the feel of your running shoes that much, buy a second pair for mowing the lawn or walking the dog.)

What do you think? Do you find the “shoe review” issues helpful?

I usually stick with a shoe that has worked well for me in the past and talk with someone at a running store about the different shoes.  I have also used this chart created by Brooks (mentioned previously) that compares different brand’s shoes so that you can transition between them.

[tags] shoe review, shoes [/tags]

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