Column: The financial barrier to running

Column: The financial barrier to running

On my most recent run on Saturday, I laced up and unrolled my Brooks Glycerin 19s to follow the American Tobacco Trail for a 9-mile long run. Unsurprisingly, the parking lot was filled with runners, cyclists and walkers who all had the same idea as me – to take advantage of the cool early morning temperature. With a cool 61 degrees and a light breeze I knew it was going to be a good run.

While I usually choose to entertain myself with a perfectly curated playlist of my favorite Beyoncé or One Direction songs, lately I’ve found my entertainment on long runs with my eyes on the ground. No, I’m not an aspiring geologist interested in the types of rocks embedded in the trails – I’m a bit of a sneakerhead who is a bit at interested in the running shoes of everyone I pass.

Hoka, Asics and Brooks are among the three most popular brands I see on any given Saturday.


It’s always a treat when I meet someone with a gold-plated racing shoe like a Saucony from the Endorphin Line. As I count the shoes, I start counting the dollars. Hoka Clifton- $140, Brooks Glycerin- $160, Asics Gel-Nimbus- $160, Saucony Endorphin Speed- $160.

No shoe on that trail cost less than $100.

After my run I decided to do some detective work. Surely there had to be a place where you could find one of these shoes cheaper than what is listed on the seller’s website. I went to Walmart’s website and found several pairs of Brooks and Asics, and while they were much older models and pre-owned, they were all priced under $100.

The problem came when I went to choose my size. The only sizes available were under size 6.5, which very few adults wear. Obviously, a limited variety of shoe sizes makes stores like Walmart unreliable suppliers to the running community.

When runners, myself included, evangelize about running, we like to talk about how cost-effective it is. We preach that “anyone can do it!” But running mile after mile, passing runner after runner, each wearing a different shoe with a different price, I realized how false that statement is.

But that’s just not true. Not everyone can spend over $100 on a good pair of running shoes.

Running shoes have a lifespan of up to 300-500 miles, meaning if you consistently run at least three miles a day, you should replace your shoes after six months. That means you should buy at least two pairs of running shoes a year.

High prices for a good pair of running shoes have created a barrier to potential new runners who simply can’t afford them. If you’re a super casual runner, it makes sense why you wouldn’t spend more than $100 on a nice pair of running shoes.

But a pair of shoes that you can get cheaply will end up doing more harm than good.

As you increase your running frequency and mileage, shoes with poor cushioning can cause excruciating pain in the feet and knees, making running uncomfortable. The shoes that provide the most cushion and support and reduce the risk of injury are also the most expensive shoes.

In short, expensive shoes are good shoes.

Most sports are exclusive – whether it’s the price of equipment or the price of admission (club sports etc), the more money you have, the more likely you are to participate in organized sports and have the resources to do them well. become.

It’s all too easy for runners like me to take the opportunity to buy well-cushioned shoes for granted.

Quality shoes ensure that a runner can enjoy his sport safely and effectively. But if running shoes are a huge financial hurdle, it’s clear that running isn’t as inclusive as claimed.


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