Are expensive running shes better than cheap ones? Apparently not!

I had not planned on posting this week, but I could not pass up this opportunity.  I have always been sceptical of special issue running shoe reviews printed in running magazines.  I think it is inherently a conflict of interest, and frankly the studies are not very scientific.  I also think that running shoe design is more marketing than research and development. Much more.  It seems that most of what is written about running shoes is at best questionable, and at worst  just nonsense.  I have always wondered if the prices charged for more expensive running shoes, are worth it,  especially after the most expensive pair of running shoes I ever purchased, were absolutely the worst.  They hurt my feet so much that they were unwearable. I was delighted to read about a new study that actually suggested that owners seemed to be more pleased with the cheaper shoes over the more expensive models.

The information below is from  Run Repeat, and is used with their permission (as outlined on their website) as long as I cite them.  Specifically, the information is from  their report which is available online.  However, at the very end of this report I will provide a disclaimer:


Expensive Running Shoes Are Not Better Than More Affordable Running Shoes (Study)

Based on 134,867 reviews of 391 running shoes from 24 brands, this study compare the list price of running shoes with how well rated they are. The key conclusion is that expensive running shoes are not better than more affordable ones. In fact, inexpensive running shoes are better rated than expensive ones.

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Based on 134,867 reviews and 391 running shoes from 24 running shoe brands:

  1. The higher the list price, the lower ratings the running shoes get.
  2. The 10 most expensive running shoes (avg. list price: $181) are rated 8.1% worse than the 10 cheapest running shoes (avg. list price: $61).
  3. Running specialist brands are rated 2.8% higher than running shoes from broad sports brands.
  4. The top three best rated brands are: #1 Skechers, #2 Saucony and #3 VibramFiveFingers, while the three worst rated are #22 New Balance, #23 Adidas and #24 Reebok. Adidas Group owns both Reebok and Adidas.
  5. The three most affordable brands are #1 Skechers, #2 Vivobarefoot and #3 Puma, while the three most expensive brands are #22 On, #23 Newton and #24 Hoka One One.

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Me again.  Correlation does not mean causation, and the cost of the shoes may not have anything to do with how good they are, but rather how pleased the owners were with them.  I would think that it would take a lot of shoe to please me for $200, but I would be more forgiving of a shoe that retailed for around $65 dollars, but which I perhaps purchased for $10 or less on sale.   I also do not think I am that much different from other people.  They cheaper running shoes are perhaps not better per se, but rather a better value.  Two different things.  Here is what the research does perhaps lead up to.  You do not have to spend over $70 to be perfectly satisfied with your shoes.

Caveat emptor.

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