Tell me if you’ve ever been in the following situation:
You know you need to buy something new that’s important to you — like a new computer, a new phone, a new winter coat, or perhaps a new pair of running shoes. So, you do a minimal amount of research, shop a bit online, realize you don’t have much time to look around, and buy the first thing that looks pretty good.
A few days later, it comes in the mail.
Do you like it? You probably think it’s … okay.
But if Marie Kondo asked you if “sparks joy,” what would you say?
From my experience, if I just bought the first thing that looked pretty good, I would probably say something like “… eh.”
So, how does this relate to running shoes and when to buy them?
The point here is that when you’re making a significant purchase, you need to:
- Choose the optimal time of year to purchase the item.
- Do your research.
- Wait a period of time to make sure what you’ve tentatively chosen is the right decision.
Buying Running Shoes: A Significant Purchase
The first thing I must mention here is that yes, buying running shoes is a significant purchase. If you are serious about running — and this rings true whether you are a beginner or a seasoned runner — you should choose an absolutely excellent pair of running shoes.
Your running shoes should make you feel like you’re flying. You should never have pain or uncomfortable rubbing. And if at all possible, you should avoid purchasing a pair that require “a breaking in period.”
Trust me: I’ve had many so-called “running experts” at the shoe store tell me that a given pair “only needs a few weeks to break-in.” Cut to me two months later, in pain as I hobble down the street back to my house.
You need to take your time when choosing a good pair of running shoes. This requires knowing when the best time to make this purchase is.
When Is the Best Time to Buy Running Shoes?
Here’s the quick answer: Spring.
Now here’s the long answer:
Why Is Spring the Best Time to Buy Running Shoes?
First off, if you live in a region where all of the seasons are essentially the same (that is, you don’t have a tremendous amount of temperature variation throughout the year), you will get some amazing deals in the spring because it’s a stock rollover period. Stores are getting rid of last season’s shoes, and they’ll be selling those at great prices. If winter and spring are basically the same seasons to you, buying last season’s “winter shoes” won’t make much difference.
If you live in the Northeast, the Midwest, or elsewhere where seasons change drastically, you may not want to purchase just any pair of winter shoes, however, because some of those models will be specifically for running over snow and ice. At the same time, if you play your cards right, you can get a great pair of spring/summer running shoes at a winter sale price, and the only difference will be that your shoes are in a darker, “non-spring” color (winter running shoes tend to be in dark colors).
Let’s say you are running shoe shopping in the spring, and you can’t find any good winter shoe deals.
The good news is you’ll still be able to get spring promotions. Basically, this is shoe and department stores wanting to lure in customers by offering spring and summer specials. Nab these fast, because they often only last from March to April.
After that, you’ll have to wait until the July 4th sales to nab a fantastic deal.
Other Tips for Running Shoe Shopping
As I noted at the beginning, you also want to do extensive research when running shoe shopping and give yourself an “incubation period” after you make a tentative choice.
When it comes to research, I recommend the following:
- Look up “top 10 best running shoe lists” and similar. There are a lot of these out there, but beware: many of them are sponsored by running shoe manufacturers or certain shoe sellers who want their shoes to be listed at the top. This means that you’re getting a manufactured list that is not authentic. Use only trustworthy sources if you’re going to use these lists.
- Ask your running buddies, or post your question on forums. Your running friends will have their absolute favorite running shoes, and they’ll tell you that you have to get whatever they use. Keep in mind that this isn’t necessarily true, but listen to what they have to say. They may lead you in the right direction. If you don’t have running friends, simply post your question on running forms, and you’ll be sure to get a slew of answers. A quick note here: you’ll want to be specific about what you’re looking for; otherwise, you’ll get a lot of angry runners telling you that “not all running shoes are the same!”
- Try shoes on at the shoe store. Finally, go to shoe stores in person and try shoes on! This is a must if you’re new to running as you won’t know what fits your unique shoe type. While shoe salespeople are also trying to sell you their latest (and probably most expensive) shoe, you can still use their valuable advice and expertise to help narrow your options.
The Final Word on the Best Time to Buy Running Shoes
Here’s one last thing I want to say about the best time to buy running shoes: Truly, the best time to buy running shoes is when you need running shoes.
In other words, if it’s not spring and you are interested in starting to run, don’t wait until the next spring rolls around. I still recommend doing thorough research, looking for promotions and sales where you can find them, and giving yourself that short couple-day incubation period to make sure you made the right choice.
But really the point is, the best choice you’ll be making in this scenario is deciding to start running in the first place. Good luck!
You may also be interested on our 2-in-1 running shorts guide.