Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Running Shoes: How cheap can one get?

I’ve always been a firm believer in keeping my work-out costs low. I’ve never been a member of an expensive gym or spent much on exercise attire. And when it comes to running shoes, the most I’ve spent was fifty pounds (around Rs. 4,000 in 2007) on a pair of New Balance shoes, which I used for around four years, including for my first full marathon at the SCMM 2012. Since mid-2012, I’ve been running on a pair of Reeboks for which I think I paid Rs. 2,200. My Reeboks are still in good shape though I run around 60-100kilometres per month on average. With my trusted Reeboks, I ran the Vasai Virar Mayor’s Marathon in October 2013. In addition, I have run five half-marathons in the last 18 months.

Sometime last November, I bought myself a pair of very cheap running shoes, with the intention of testing the thesis that expensive shoes are not necessary for a runner. After all, until India’s economy liberalized and imported goods started to pour into the country, didn’t those few Indians who went jogging run with such shoes? Didn’t we all wear those cheap white shoes (from Bata) for our PT classes at school? I was fairly confident that that I would be proved right and that I wouldn’t suffer any ill effects on account of switching to a much cheaper pair of shoes.This despite the fact that I am almost flatfooted and at one point in time, many years ago, had developed plantar fasciitis. I had been planning to experiment with a pair Bata PT shoes for sometime, but hadn’t been able to get hold of a pair since the Bata shops I visited didn’t stock them. Therefore, when while shopping for a school bag for my daughter, I saw a pile of Hi Fly shoes wrapped in polythene wrappers stacked up in a corner, I couldn’t help but buy a pair. It cost me all of Rs. 235.

The very next day, I went for a run wearing my new shoes. I decided to play it safe and stuck to my basic route, which is around 5.5 kilometres – from home to Carter Road, a single loop up and down the Carter Road Promenade and back home. My feet were instantly transported to a hard new world, one where every small pebble on the ground made a small impact, where my feet could easily make out the difference between sand, clay, gravel, asphalt and concrete. When after doing a few pull ups or dips on the exercise bars put up alongside the Carter Road Promenade (at the Khar end), I dropped a few feet to the ground, my feet felt the pressure almost as if I were barefoot. I enjoyed the new tingling feeling on my soles, despite the need to watch every step I took.

The next day, I did an extra loop of the Carter Road Promenade, which meant I ran around 8 kilometres and when I finished, I felt some pain around my shin bones and knees. I started to worry and gave myself a break of 2 clear days. Nevertheless, on the third day, I did three loops of the Carter Road Promenade, which meant my total mileage was around 10.5 kilometres. This time, there was no mistaking the pain in my knees, soles and shin bones as I finished my run.

I started wondering if my cheap running shoes would really work for me. I took a break of 3 clear days and ran 8 kilometres. The pain persisted. Another break of 3 clear days and the fourth day, I did my basic 5.5 km run, with a single loop of the Carter Road Promenade. The pain lingered and I was forced to take a week’s break from my morning runs.

When I started again, I wore my Reeboks and felt much better, though the discomfort lingered in a mild form. Two weeks later, my wife and I celebrated a new arrival in the family and I didn’t go jogging for the next two months, other than running around the flat, changing nappies etc.

Two weeks ago, I started again, wearing my Reeboks. The first week, I took it easy, doing basic runs of 5.5 kilometres every alternate day. This week, I’ve been running 8 kilometres per day, on alternate days. The pain in my legs has entirely subsided, though my knees still feel wobbly when I start my run each morning. I’m told that if one hurts one’s knees, the injury never fully heals, just as in the case of back injuries. I hope that my brief experiment with those beautiful Hi Fly shoes does not result in everlasting damage to my knees or other leg joints.

Now with that lesson behind me, I am wondering if I should gift myself a pair of Ascis, reputed to be the best running shoes, thought not too easy on the wallet. I think I will, before the next SCMM. As for those cheap Hi Fly shoes, I have packed them up and put them in a basket, knowing I’d never run with them again – I couldn’t bring myself to throw them away. It is quite possible that those might work for a runner who is a natural athlete with the right sized arches under his or her soles. If anyone wants to borrow them from me, please contact me and you may have them, provided you promise to treat it as a permanent loan and not return them to me.


vikram bhambhu said...

One should not jump straight away to road with these canvas shoes. These should be first tried on a softer surface such as grass then trails and then onto road. I have used them a lot in my childhood days for running shorter races and in football field but not on the roads. Presently I am using minimalist shoes (Nike Free 5.0)since September 2013 and facing no issues. That's a different issue that I have never run more than 22.5 km in them.

anand said...

Did you wear an orthotic in your reebok or the bata shoes as you are flat footed and have suffered from plantar fasciitis

anand said...

Didn't you wear an orthotic in your shoes when running in the reebok or canvas shoes. you said u were nearly flat footed and suffered from plantar fasciitis

Kim Erickson said...

Having Flat feet is no longer a hindrance in pursuing a healthy, balanced life. The availability of dynamic and need-specific footwear makes mobility easy and comfortable. You just have to be smart in choosing the best running shoes for flat feet. Balance the pros and cons and make your choice based on practicality and affordability but don’t sacrifice your postural condition for cheap, inappropriate gear. best running shoes for flat feet

Shuvanshu Jakhmola said...

I have been running for few months and feel motivated to boost my Running Distance.
Currently am using Normal Bata Sports Shoes of 1K cost(Not canvas) and feel that i should invest in better Running shoes.
I wanted to know if the Sparx brand is good , as i am getting a much comfortable and Flexible sole in 2K cost.
Can't invest 4-6K on runnig shoes as am just a beginner and a student.
Kindly Guide! :)

Sapan patibandha said...


I think my story is something like you... I am running marathon at Ahmedabad from around 2013. This year I completed half marathon in around 2:27 ..
As of now I am looking for bare foot running so to start I am also looking for simple canvas shoos.. What do you suggest .. is this good option to try canvas shoos for running or its batter to have good running shoos? As of now I am using PUMA shoes ..

This article help me a lot