Prior to running barefoot, I enjoyed browsing the sports shops and admiring all the latest fancy running shoes. I could literally spend hours inspecting the many different kinds of shoe designs, technology and colours offered by the long list of sports brands. After my first taste of BF run, I started questioning the legitimacy of the extraordinary claims made by these sports shoe manufacturers – “our shoes offer you more protection”, “our shoes are designed to fit you better”, “our shoes incorporate the latest technology”, etc.
With so many new running shoe models being launched almost every other week, it was getting more and more difficult for me to believe that significant technology breakthroughs could be made at such a fast and furious pace. I suppose like any competitive industry, there is tremendous pressure for the sports companies to differentiate-or-die.
My question is – do we, as consumers, really know if the sports companies are selling genuine shoes which can do exactly as they claim or are they trying to confuse & bedazzle us with clever marketing gimmicks in the hope to drive their sales upwards. Interestingly, I found-out in my recent survey among my running friends that at least 60% of them will not pay more than Ringgit Malaysia 500 for a pair of running shoes. Besides all other factors, the ability of the consumers to pay is an overriding consideration in the purchasing decision.
To be fair on the running shoe manufacturers, they have to recoup their investments in research & development, and their manufacturing costs and marketing fees must be included in the price of their shoes before their shareholders can see any profits.
So, the “fair price” of any genuine running shoe is somewhere between the consumer’s willingness to pay for it (which is primarily determined by personal disposable income) and the manufacturer’s pricing policies (which is primarily determined by their board of directors). Of course, in reality, there will always by some gullible consumers (me included) who are overcharged and there are those bargain-hunters who bought shoes way past their sell-by date, only to collectively regret their foolish decisions later.
As for me, my prime considerations in purchasing my running shoes in order of priority, right or wrong, were as follows:
- A recognised brand because my logic was that if it was popular among other runners than it can’t be bad.
- The shoe must fit my foot profile because no two feet are the same, and I wanted to make sure that my shoe fit me snugly.
- There must be adequate padding because I wanted to protect my knee joints from the harsh impact of road running.
- The cost of the shoe was the least of my consideration not because I am loaded, far from it, but rather because I was willing to sacrifice other purchases in order to buy myself the “right” pair of running shoes.
With Barefoot Running, I have learnt of an alternative to wearing shoes when running, and I feel like a huge burden has been lifted from my shoulders. No longer do I need to stress myself out wondering “how long will my shoe last”, “I don’t have enough money to buy a new pair”, “should I buy lighter shoes or ones that offer greater support”, “I wish I could afford his pair of cool shoes”, and on and on.
Let me quickly point-out that I do not continue running barefoot because it has eradicated all the shoe dilemmas mentioned above. They are the positive side-effects of BF. Indeed, I have written an earlier blog entry on the reasons why BF works for me, and the best part is that I am discovering more and more about the wonders of BF with each and every run.
So remember, the next time, you drool over the latest running shoe model at the shop window and start plotting on how to get your hands (and feet) on it, ask yourself this – “Do I really need it?”. And in case you are wondering, what I am doing with my current pair, I will use them for trail runs…unless I learn to run trails bf too;)