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My Process for Shopping for New Running Shoes

IMG_20140325_141351_596Everyone has their own method to shop for new running shoes and below is the process, yes process that I use to find the next great pair of running shoes for me.

What I do is not what everyone else does, but it works for me, but before it is all done, I have tried on a LOT of running shoes.

First I think about what I am going to use the shoe for. Will I be using them for roads, trails, racing, or some combination of the three. What my experience with the brands and styles I have used recently has been, what worked for me, what didn’t and then I put together a list of features that I am looking for in the shoes I want to buy.

I usually ask others for ideas on running shoes that I should be using in Groups, my blog and from other local runners. Then I develop a list of running shoes that I want to research more.

Then I go to the local stores (I prefer to shop locally when possible) to see what they have and if they do not have anything that I want to run in, I make plans to go down to Portland (Maine not Oregon) and see what they have down south.

IMG_20140321_120903_136Dicks – Augusta

  • Nike Zoom Vomero+8 – I almost got these and put them on my short list
  • Nike LunarEclipse+4 – Too narrow
  • Nike Men’s Zoom Fly – Too narrow
  • Brooks Ghost – side strap would irritate my tailor’s bunionette
  • Saucony Mirage – too narrow
  • Asics Gel-Lyte 33 v3 – felt good on my feet, but when I jogged around their “track” my forefoot slapped.

Lamey-Wellehan – Augusta

They have a good selection of running shoes in the brands/styles that I like, unfortunately what they typically have in stock are limited and while they can quickly get the shoe’s in the store 1-3 days, however, they are not in the store when I want to try them – no I am not known for my patience.

  • Mizuno Hitogami – None in my size
  • Mizuno Wave Rider 17 – None in my size
  • Newton Energy – None in my size
  • Asics Gel-Lyte 33 v2 – A holdover shoe that I have tried on almost every time I go into this store, I like it but I don’t like it. I am sure that I can run just fine in it, but something about it stops me from pulling the trigger. I didn’t try the V3 on due to my experience at Dick’s
  • Saucony Kinvara 4 – too narrow

While the salesperson attempted to be helpful, she was not really a runner – let’s just leave it at that.

I didn’t have time to stop at the Rail Trail Run Shop that day, but I did later and it was worth it – more on that in a bit.

More Research

After visiting these local stores and not finding anything that really fit, I went home and did a bunch of research online. I used a variety of blogs and websites, i.e. Runner’s World, Running Warehouse, Holabird Sports, RoadRunner Sports and Amazon, along with the different Brand’s websites to look at styles and models.

Something I use a lot is the shoe fittr app – to have an idea of what shoes will fit like and I am finding that in most shoe styles I am not an 8.0 the foot measuring device has me at, but a 9.0 to 9.5 in most models and when I tried on shoes, I found that the shoe fittr app was pretty accurate.

Road Trip

Yesterday, once I had decided to not run, due to how I was feeling, I needed to do something besides sit on my butt and decided to go south, to see what running shoes were going to be in my future. I felt good enough to drive, but definitely not good enough to run.

I figured that if I went down to Portland, I would find something.

Maine Running Company – Portland

aka Fleet Feet Maine

The salespeople in both the Portland and Brunswick stores were fantastic and bent over backwards trying to help me get into a pair of running shoes, but unfortunately, either what I wanted they didn’t have in stock, in my size or the shoe itself didn’t work for me.

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  • Mizuno Sayonara – size 9.5 too big – have 9.0’s up in Brunswick
  • New Balance 890v4 size 9.0 felt good except for middle pod under the outside of my foot pushed up uncomfortably
  • New Balance 890v3 – too narrow
  • Adidas Energy Boost – 9.0  too expensive
  • Mizuno Ride 17 – to narrow on side of foot
  • Adidas Boston – too narrow
  • Newton Energy – 10.0 too big, nothing smaller
  • Asics DS Trainer 19 – too narrow

Then I went over to the Mall area – Sports Authority, Olympia, DSW and didn’t find anything in those places. Although at Marshalls – they had a pair of Merrell MixMaster2’s for $39.00 in my size that I did look at twice, but I was looking for a road shoe.

Since it was on the way home, I stopped in Freeport

Nike Outlet Store

  • Flyknit Lunar 2 – too narrow
  • Air Pegasus 29 – I almost got them – they fit nice, but for some reason, I decided to not pull the trigger.
  • LunarGlide – too narrow.
  • They had a LOT of Nike Free’s, but unfortunately between the too narrow for me toe box and rock collecting properties, I didn’t bother trying them on, even though the FlyKnits did look great and I was tempted.

After the Nike Store, I went into the NorthFace Factory and the Combs outlets, but nothing interested me. Although I did get to look at the Patagonia shoes and figured out that they were too minimal for me.

On to Brunswick

Maine Running Company – Brunswick

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  • Mizuno Sayonara – the toe box material bunched up too much in the 9.0’s they had in stock. Maybe an 8.0 would work better in this model?
  • Mizuno Wave Rider 17 – Still didn’t feel right on the side of my right foot, if it had been just a little wider it would have reminded me an awful lot of my old Elixir 7’s.
  • Brooks Dyad – Just didn’t feel right
  • Adidas Supernova Boost Glide – Loved the fit and feel!!! Would have probably pulled the trigger on the size 9.0 even though they were $130 (TheWife would have had my ass), but they only had the right shoe, the left one was missing and they couldn’t find it???
  • New Balance 890v4 – the pod felt the same as down in the Portland store
  • Asics Nimbus 15 – the right outside strap would rub on my tailor’s bunionette
  • Newton Energy – smallest they had in stock was 9.5 – too big

After that I went to

Dick’s – Brunswick

I wanted to see if they carry any different lines than the Augusta store – they don’t – about the same selection.

  • Asics GelLyte33 v3 – because I liked how the upper felt in Augusta. When I tried it on I was shocked, it felt completely different from the one did in Augusta. I would have gotten it, if I had my Dick’s gift card with me. It just felt a lot better and I didn’t slap down, when I jogged around their “track” in them. Weird how the same brand/style of shoe can feel completely different sometimes??? There are some variations in fit and feel of the individual shoes.
  • Brooks Launch – I could wear this shoe, but it just didn’t excite me.
  • Nike Vomero – Same thing, a shoe that I could wear, but it just didn’t do a lot for me.

It was time to head back to Augusta.

The Rail Trail Run Shop

  • Skechers GoRun Ultra – they didn’t have any in my size, but I tried on a 10 and saw where the strap was going to be on my foot and unfortunately, it has the same issue as the GoRun Ride 3 for me – the strap at the back of the toe box was going to annoy the hell out of my tailor’s bunionette. Too bad I liked how they felt on my feet otherwise and they (RTTS) are getting their Skechers shipment in next week.
  • Reebok One – Comfort. This one completely surprised me, it came out of the blue. They didn’t have any men’s models in stock, but Amy told me to try it on in a woman’s size 10. Just to see how felt, they were getting the men’s models in next week.

    It fit GREAT. Lots of room in the toe box, no overlays, nice flexibility, fairly light, good cushioning – in other words pretty much what I was looking for on my check list, except the drop is more traditional at around 12mm, which is not a deal breaker. The sole design wasn’t going to be a rock collector. Also it felt damn good to wear around the shop – better than anything else I had tried on all day. But it was a Reebok and I associate the Reebok brand more with crossfit now, than I do running shoes. Who knows maybe I need to put aside my preconceptions and if the shoe will work for me – go with it.

    I haven’t ran in Reeboks since 1991, although I came close a couple of times with their RealFlex line over the past couple of years. They always came in second fiddle to the Nike Free’s that I kept getting, who knows, maybe one of those times I got the Free’s I should have gone with the Reebok’s.

    Surprisingly, I liked the gaudy woman’s colorway a lot better than I did the staid colors that the men’s model have.

    I am going to have to do a lot more research on these shoes, because I like them enough to go back and really take another look at them.

Finally, the Rail Trail Run Shop has a little consignment shop on the side.

While I was wandering around the store trying out the Reebok’s, I noticed a pair of Newton Energy’s in a colorway I hadn’t seen/noticed before – Blue/Yellow/Green. There have been so many great things said about these shoes on the blogs, groups and forums that I wander around in that I wanted to try them on, especially since I had been unable to find a pair in my size earlier.

Newton Energy

Newton Energy

These turned out to be a woman’s size 10. The idea that they were woman’s shoes doesn’t bother me, I have run in woman’s models several times in the past. To be honest I am not usually a fan of many of the women’s colorways for me to wear, so it can be a deal breaker if I do not like them, even if the shoe fits well. I know, I know, but it is the way it is – my feet, my choice.

They fit GREAT, the blue/yellow/bright green colorway is a “Harold” shoe and they had very little wear. Which meant I wanted them for the right price.

The price was right – dirt cheap and it will be a great way to experiment with these shoes, without having to pay list price $120.00 to find out if I like them or not.

Newton shoes and I have had some history and not all of it good. I had issues with the Newton Gravity’s hard plastic heel counter, that I still have a scar from. Which meant that I had to do major shoe surgery on the heel counter of those shoe, something I shouldn’t have to do, in today’s world and was a pain in the ass.

Since then I have been leery about going back to Newton’s even though I ran quite well in them after their successful shoe surgery. That problem along with the prices they want for Newton’s is just hard to swallow – even if they are a “premium” shoe.

So getting a pair of like new Newton’s at the price I did was fantastic, especially without having to play the pay for them and return it game, that so many of us have to do, far too often to find out if we like a pair of shoes or not.

I know this is why bigger running stores do not do have consignment sections – it takes sales away from the new shoes, but at the same time, having one gives runners a chance to try out some shoes we wouldn’t otherwise, because I would not have ended up in the Newton’s otherwise.

The reality is that

I am cheap, getting me to go over the $100.00 mark for a pair of running shoes isn’t something that I do very often and it has to be a GREAT fit and feel for me to do it. Today I came very close to enduring TheWife’s ire or more appropriately wrath, with the Adidas Supernova Boost Glide – I think it would have been worth it, but wasn’t meant to be. She was much happier with my lower cost choice.

Isn’t that how it works some days, I drive all the way to Portland – stop, try on so many shoes, go to several different stores and end up finding shoes that I want locally, at the place I am starting to call my home running store – The Rail Trail Run Shop. You know that one place where they call you by your name when you walk through their door.

The only shoes that I had on my list of shoes to try on, but didn’t get a chance were the Mizuno Hitogami, which was disappointing, because there have been too many good thing said about these shoes. However, if they fit anything like the Sayonara in the toe box they won’t work for me.

Although I didn’t get a run in today, I did get to see a LOT of different running shoes, learned that all too many of them wouldn’t work for me, some that might work just didn’t excite me and the ones that I would have bought surprised me.

Looking Back

If I had to order the shoes from top to bottom for shoes I tried on today the top 3 look like this:

  1. Newton Energy
  2. Reebok One – Cushion
  3. Asics GelLyte 33 v3

The Reeboks definitely are the most surprising shoe on this list and I have a feeling that I will be going back and taking another closer look at them. In the meantime, I will be running in the Newton Energy’s I picked up and seeing whether what Newton has done over the past couple of years.

After all, I still have my Pearl Izumi shoes, which have a lot of miles left on them, so if the Newton’s do not work, I am not too worried about it like I would have been at the higher price point, but I do see a pair of the Adidas Supernova Boost Glides coming into my rotations someday.

What did I Learn Today

The one thing that I did learn today is that if a pair of running shoes do not feel quite right for a particular reason, but you like everything else about them, ask if the store has another pair in the same size and try those on to see if it corrects the issue. It was amazing in the difference between the GelLyte 33 v3 I tried on in Augusta and the ones in Brunswick – I would definitely buy the ones in Brunswick, while the ones in Augusta made me want to look at other running shoes.

As consumers we need to be aware that running shoes may not always be constructed perfectly or even well and that those variances might make a running not wearable for you and make you think you have to look elsewhere, when in fact it was a defect in the shoe that was bothering you, not the shoe.

Isn’t shopping for new running shoes wonderful and challenging to find the “right” shoe for you!!!

All I can say is that it would be great if the Newton Energy’s worked out as a new shoe in my rotation.

How does this compare to how you shop for your new running shoes?

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9 Comments »

  1. Harold, I’m a pretty simple guy. I’ve stayed w/ Brooks for years and the same model. I have tried a few New Balance but they screwed me over on my first pair – they turned out to be walking shoes. Never trust a sales person at a company outlet store!
    I did try the Newtons after seeing a friend of mine rocket down the road in them.
    I’m not a big shoe shopper. I should spend more time looking around and trying different things.
    I like your idea about trying on different shoes of the same brand/model/size if the first pair do not fit quite right.

    • I wish that I could find the running shoes brand that I could stick with, think I am narrowing it down some now. That is why I am glad I have a little experience with buying new running shoes and have a pretty good idea of what I need/want. I have run in the Newtons before so I was familiar with the feel and ran in them today and enjoyed it. I learned that lesson the hard way, I have had several running shoes that have defects in them over the years and those defects do affect how they fit or feel.

      • That’s a great tip that never occurred to me.
        I’ve tried on shoes that were 90% overall but something didn’t feel right, so I didn’t buy them. Next time I’ll try a different pair. You’ve got me thinking about those Sketchers RR3.

      • I personally really like the RR3’s and wish they hadn’t re-designed the upper, if they hadn’t I would still be running in the Skechers RR3’s. Hopefully they will come out with a short run with their GoBionic Upper and the RR3 bottom = a near perfect shoe.

    • Thanks Amy – it isn’t so much thorough, as much as I want to find a pair of running shoes that fit me and that I will be able to run in.

      I ran in the Newtons today and did a total of 10 miles in them – felt good. The true test will be how they work on the long run Friday, which will end a the Rail Trail if things go as planned.

  2. Stop in if you’re around when I’m around. 10ish-1ish on Friday, then probably headed out for my long run….

  3. haha … I have had this bookmarked to catch up on because I just love it all. Great overview not only of the stores but also the running shoes you tried and the issues you experienced with each.

    I wish I had that many choices … I need to head to Ithaca to get anything, or to Rochester or Syracuse for something really good … Ithaca is 45 minutes but the other two are 1.5hours+ …

    As for the men’s / women’s … it is all what works. My feet are a 13 so I don’t end up with that option …

    Great summary … now to catch up on the rest! I feel like I am binge watching a TV show … 🙂

    • Thanks Mike,

      Yeah I know about having to drive to have a good selection of running shoes, but it is seeming like the new Rail Trail Run Shop is gonna be carrying the styles of shoes that I like to wear, so that is a good thing and Brunswick is only about 40 minutes from the house. Just part of living out in the country.

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