7 Tips and Tricks for Finding Great Running Shoes at Discounted Prices

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Cheap running shoes
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Ah, running.

You either love it or you hate it — or you love it and you hate it. (Or you refuse to run and you love to hate it, if you’re here for that.)

But whether you’re the passionate, endorphin-fueled marathoner, the “ugh, fine, I’ll run the family 5k at Thanksgiving” curmudgeon or the “lay down in someone’s yard half a mile into your route” type, there’s a reason we do it.

The thing is, running is one of the cheapest forms of exercise you can do — no pricy gym membership needed!

Just you, the great outdoors and — really expensive running shoes.

*Cue the sad trombone*

OK, so the actual act of running is free. But the gear that goes along with it can get really expensive, really quickly — especially if you’re serious about running (and about your general health and safety, but we’ll get to that in a minute).

For beginning and casual runners, it’s easy to skip the $500 GPS wristwatch and the $89 high-tech, engineered performance leggings in favor of the free run-tracking phone app and the $8 sale rack running shorts.

But, one thing that all runners — of all ages and at all levels — need to invest in is a good pair of running shoes.

So, in honor of Global Running Day, I talked to one of our editors (and six-time marathoner and triathlete), Caitlin Constantine (that’s her crushing it in the photos here), to get the inside scoop on how to score running shoes at a reasonable price.

But First…

Before she would share her awesome, expert tips with me, Constantine asked me to pass on a word of caution to anyone shopping for running shoes:

“If you are looking at getting running shoes for the first time, I recommend going to a specialty running shop and working with the staff to find shoes that will work for your needs, then buying your shoes from that store,” Constantine said. “Consider the full cost of the shoes as payment for services rendered when finding shoes that will work for you.

“Once you’ve been able to use their expertise to identify the type of shoes that work for you — whether that’s a stability shoe or a neutral shoe or one with more or less cushioning — then you’ll be better equipped to find running shoes that work for you without paying full price.”

Got that?

Good.

Now we can move on to the list of tips, tricks and hacks we’ve compiled!

(OK, just kidding, one more time: If you’re thinking about skipping out on Constantine’s advice — don’t. I’ve been fitted, and it actually meant the difference between loathing running and actually enjoying it. But to this day, I deal with injuries sustained from running with the wrong footwear for too long because a younger me thought one particular trendy brand was ~cooler~ than the rest. Painful lesson learned.)

7 Tips for Finding Good, Cheap Running Shoes

I would say without further ado, but we’ve had a lot of ado here — so let’s dive right in.

1. Know When to Shop

The best months out of year to find deals on running shoes (and most athletic gear, really) are January and April.

In January, stores take advantage of the fact that everyone has really good intentions for the year and offer pretty good sales to draw people in.

In April, people are getting restless after being cooped up all winter and are ready to get outside; they want to do it in fresh gear and bright colors, prompting them to hit the stores again in droves — which makes the stores compete for their attention with deep discounts.

2. Shop the Right Stores

Two places I always check first when I’m shopping for running shoes: department stores and outlet malls.

Department stores like to move product quickly, so they often discount the slow-sellers (such as running shoes) during those monthly and have semi-annual sales they’re always advertising.

Outlet malls are sometimes thought to be, well, a little less than upfront about pricing and quality when it comes to high-end luxury brands. But with most shoe stores and athletic brands, the savings are real because they’re just trying to get rid of last year’s models.

Sports- and adventure-gear stores will also regularly have sales on running shoes, so be sure to pop in once in awhile to check them out. (Just be sure to put on your blinders while you’re walking past the workout clothes — you’re here for shoes, remember?)

3. Take Your Search Online

This method only works if you’ve done the fitting process that Constantine talked us through earlier — you have to know what brand and style works for you and which features to look for. (Pop quiz! Do you know if you need a neutral shoe or a stability shoe? No? Get fitted.)

Athletic- and outdoor-gear sites such as Active GearUp and The Clymb offer deep discounts on running shoes. Just be sure to sign up for their email newsletters so you’re the first to know about big sales and new products. You’ll also score some great coupons this way!

4. Sign Up for Email Lists

Speaking of signing up for emails, be sure to sign up for the email lists for shoe brands that you like, too. You’ll be notified of any sales and the arrival of new models (meaning older products will soon be discounted).

5. Look for Last Year’s Models

Wherever your search takes you, always keep an eye out for last year’s models. You can usually find these in the sale and clearance sections, either in-store or online. Constantine has found good running shoes for as little as $60 to $70 this way.

And sure, last year’s models won’t have the latest, greatest technology — but I promise, up-to-date shoe technology will not make or break a beginning runner’s game.

6. Check Out the Expos

If your city ever holds a major race (like a marathon or high-profile triathlon), go to the expo. Running stores often set up shop at these events, and it can be a great opportunity to score some running shoes at special expo prices.

7. Find Your Local Running Shop

You should have already located your local running shop (for that fitting, remember?), but don’t forget to go back to shop the sales (and support a local business)!

Most local shops even have an email list that you can sign up for as well, so you’ll be the first to know about coupons and sales.

On Your Mark, Get Set, GO

Now that you’ve been fitted for and invested in an initial pair of running shoes with the proper support for your your particular feet which are attached to your particular legs which connect to your particular body, you’ll be able to shop the sales and find the best deals.

It might take a little time, but eventually you’ll be bragging to your running buddies on your 10-miler about how much money you saved on your new running shoes.

Grace Schweizer is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder.