Why your running shoe is not worth the money
Wrong. Well, not when it comes to running shoes that is.
A new analysis of 134,867 reviews of running shoes found that the higher the price, the lower the rating.
"In fact, the 10 most expensive running shoes (average price $250) rated 8.1 per cent worse rated than the 10 most affordable running shoes (average price: $85)," RunRepeat.com chief executive Jens Jakob Andersen says.
Not a Yeezy or Stella McCartney in sight, the top running shoes were all about function over aesthetic form.
The winning shoe was the unfashionable Saucony Cohesion, which costs about $85.
"Aside from the affordability, the Saucony Cohesion provides enough comfort for the runners, even when wearing this for a whole long day," Runrepeat's review states.
Coming in a very close second, is the equally unattractive but more expensive Brooks Launch.
"There's no need for anything else, well performing, low-profile midsole and a no-nonsense supportive upper make this a simple yet highly effective shoe, idea for tempo runs, intervals and races," former elite athlete and shoe reviewer Paul Freary says.
Behind Brooks is the Mizuno Wave Creation and the Saucony Triumph ISO. Where are the bigger names in foot fashion like Nike, Reebok and Adidas?
Reebok squeezed into sixth place with the One Guide shoe, while Nike sprinted into the top 10 with the Flex Run at ninth place and the LunarGlide at 10. Adidas' top ranked shoe, the Response Boost, was 32nd.
Himself a runner, statistician Andersen said he was surprised at some of the findings about general brand satisfaction.
"Adidas Group (who owns both Adidas and Reebok) were the No. 1 and No. 2 worst brands," Andersen says. "Generally one is talking about the big four: Adidas, Nike, Asics and Brooks. Only Brooks are among the better brands."
I wondered whether the ratings might be lower for the bigger, and more expensive, brands because expectations were higher?
"Higher prices will increase expectations, which is fair," Andersen admits. "When you spend 50 per cent more on something, you expect more, but unfortunately runners are even less satisfied with the premium shoe.
"Are prices too high? A quick look into the restaurant and hotel market will reveal that here the pattern is opposite; Michelin restaurants do get better reviews than fast-food chains. Brands promote products with large margins (premium shoes), which makes you and I buy those. In the end all this comes at the cost of the consumer, who will end up being less satisfied."
But the bells and whistles surely make a difference depending on your needs?
Traditionally, when we're looking to buy shoes we consider our gait and foot strike ("barefoot" shoes seem to be beneficial for those with knee troubles as they shift us forward onto the balls of the feet resulting in less force through the knee, while extra support seems to be beneficial for those with ankle problems). There is also the terrain to consider and whether we're racing (a lighter shoe is considered better) or training.
Finally, there is the question of support depending on your pronation.
Overpronation (which we can see when our shoes wear out on the inside forefoot) means people should choose a shoe with a motion-control feature and maximum support.
Underpronation (where your shoes wear out on the outer edge) means people should choose a cushioned shoe with a soft midsole, while those with a "neutral" arch, whose shoes wear out evenly, opt for a "stability" shoe.
At least, this is what we're told.
A new review, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, challenges the assumption that the "right" running shoe can prevent injury and fix our running form.
The review found that attempting to "correct" a pronation or style was ineffective and may even lead to increased likelihood of injury.
Instead of trying to correct or control perceived problems in the way we run, the researchers found that those who chose shoes purely for comfort were the least likely to injure themselves.
"Try on four or five pairs," Dr Benno Nigg told The New York Times, suggesting buyers jog around the store in each.
"People can usually tell right away which shoe feels the most comfortable. That is the one to choose."
Going for individual comfort over price or fancy features is an idea Andersen agrees with.
"Regarding the quality of the running shoes, it's next to impossible to conclude which are better," he says. "Most often (not always) expensive running shoes have more features, but in the end these extra features are not always welcomed by the runner."