Why we spend $100 for running shoes

Run away!

Today’s run (street): 4.4 miles

My new reality is long busy work days. I’m not complaining (well maybe a little) but my work schedule did take a bite out of my running this week. I made it into the city on Thursday for an industry meeting and saw my buddy and fellow Runsketeer, KWL, who ran the NYC marathon last weekend. I probably covered 20K steps that day, so at least I burned some calories.

We had to go out east this morning, which required me to get out early for my first run of the week. Even though it’s early November, the temperature felt more like late September and the cloudy skies helped keep things cool. I had no particular route in mind when I took off and ended up circumnavigating the middle school before heading to the north end of my neighborhood. There was a little humidity, but otherwise conditions were fall-perfect.

We spent much of the day in eastern Long Island and we stopped at Target before we headed home. While my wife and kids looked for stuff on their lists, I ambled over to the men’s section that has the Champion C9 line of athletic clothes. They had some nice, lightweight vests that would be perfect with a long sleeve running shirt on a 30° morning, but the price was higher than I was prepared to pay.

Out of curiosity, I looked in the shoe section, where they sell C9 running shoes for $29.99. Most of the big running shoe brands have entry level models that Dick’s and Sports Authority sell for $50-$60. These shoes may not have the advanced technologies and features of their flagship models, but they generally provide a decent fit and feel. I decided to try on a pair of the C9 Drives to experience the difference between them and the ASICS Kayano 20s I was wearing.

Drive this off a cliff

The C9 shoes did not seem junky and I wondered what they’d feel like on my foot. After realizing they ran a half size bigger than most of the shoes in my collection, I found a smaller pair and tried them on. My first impression of the Drives was that they had almost no cushioning. That isn’t a show stopper for me, because I like a minimal shoe. But when I stood up and took a few steps, I realized why I typically spend $100 or more for Sauconys, ASICS or Brooks.

The lack of cushioning and a poorly constructed mid-sole resulted in a lumpy, uncomfortable foot bed. I suddenly understood the difference between quality brands and cheap $29.99 knockoffs. I’ve been fortunate to either receive shoes for testing from the manufacturers, or find great discounted running shoes at places like SA Elite or Famous Footwear. Believe me, paying $60 for a pair of $100 running shoes is a much better deal than paying $30 for “bargain” trainers.

Frustration mounts with the ProForm CE 6.0

Hey elliptical, you’ve gotta screw loose!

Today’s workout (elliptical): 25 minutes

Today has been busy. This morning was filled with meetings and this afternoon I presented a technical paper at a W3C conference. I’d had a much different expectation about early retirement. Tomorrow will be even busier. 

This morning I decided to use the new elliptical while my wife ran on the treadmill. It was my second time using the machine and, once again, I was disappointed. I had hoped that this ProForm, that looks a lot like our old X1, would perform in similar way. Aside from the fact that they both provide elliptical motion, the user experience is far opposite.

The difference is in the quality. The X1 had its challenges, but it was a sturdy beast. The ProForm CE 6.0 is a wobbly contraption that squeaks and squeals. The display shows your distance only in revolutions (huh?) and there’s no way to pause the timer during a workout.

Why would need to pause the timer? One reason might be that the bolt that attaches the arm to the center post tends to work its way free. I had to jump off the machine this morning at one point and tighten it with an Allen wrench. Lucky for me, I’d removed the decorative plastic collar last week to get to this bolt. I needed to break the collar’s connecting tabs when I did that, so it’s not going back on.

The rest of my workout went without incident and the bolt stayed in after my mid-session triage. While I consider the CE 6.0 far inferior to the unit it replaced, I still ended up with good workout that got my heart rate to target. It will be back to the treadmill tomorrow. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I’m actually looking forward to using it.

Going cheap on an elliptical (here’s why)

ProForm CE 6.0. User not included

Most people will agree with the expression, “You get what you pay for”, based on their own personal experience. Most of the time, I’d agree. Expensive items tend to last longer than cheaply made versions. This is theoretically due to their higher level of quality. Our experience purchasing and using a higher end elliptical machine made us rethink the direct correlation between cost and satisfaction.

Four years ago, we purchased a BH Fitness X1 elliptical machine at Fitness Showrooms in Huntington, NY. The machine was compact, had heart rate sensors on the arm poles and seemed to built to last. I’ve written plenty about our troubles with both the machine and the company that sold it to us, so I won’t repeat them here. After three years of moderate use and almost a year of non-use due to broken parts, we trashed the expensive “quality” unit and bought a cheaper replacement.

Sunday afternoon we went to Sports Authority and bought a ProForm CE 6.0 elliptical for about one third the price we paid for the X1 in 2009. The unit was on sale and we had a $50 coupon. Pro-Form is not a premium brand, but but we managed to get over ten years of daily use out of our LT treadmill. The elliptical unit we bought was the 2012 6.0. Even though the newer 7.0 unit was priced the same, we thought the older model seemed sturdier and more stable.

I’m looking forward to (once again) having a cross-training option for my daily workouts. If we only get three years out of the CE 6.0 I’ll be less annoyed than I was with the expensive BH Fitness X1. Ironically, the best reason for buying at Sports Authority over a specialty store like Fitness Showrooms is that I have more confidence that SA will stand behind what they’ve sold.