There are tens of thousands of trainers to choose from one size does not fit all – not because of shoe size, but less literally is the fact people have different needs for trainers, and place different demands on them.
But simply going to the shoe store and choosing the pair that you think look good is a risky strategy if you plan to use your new trainers for sports or everyday wear – when confort becomes king. It can also prove an expensive waste of money if your trainers fall apart after only a few months.
Sales can also be a bit of a dangerous time for shoe buying of any kind – with all kinds of trendy styles on offer for knock-down prices, it can be tempting to plunge in without too much due diligence. But before you buy to ‘avoid missing out’, think that if your brand new shoes are only designed for light use and walking, are you happy to lose your money if they fall apart because wear them daily, or trainers that you run several miles in every week?
So whether it’s daily wear, sports or fitness, here are my top tips for shopping sustainably and finding the right pair of trainers that will last (and look good too).
Doing your homework
Like most things, a good pair of trainers are not only about the appearance. Doing a little research can make a massive difference to how comfortable the shoes are, and limit your risk of picking up injuries, athlete’s foot or blisters. Not only that, a bit of homework can also save you a lot of money in the long run. The staff in most shoe stores will be able to help you with this, whether it’s a Nike store in Australia, Canada, London or the US.
Before you start your search, ask yourself what is motivating you to buy a new pair. Good trainers and any designed for sports will cost you a reasonable amount of money, so it is very sensible to consider the ‘why’ factor in your purchase. This will help you buy the right pair for your needs.
On the flip side, avoid the trap of thinking that if you buy more expensive trainers they will automatically cope with all types of demand. This is simply not the case – new trendy trainers can cost hundreds, without any thought to sports or durability. In the same way that you would not expect to buy a rear wheel drive sports car designed for smooth road surfaces only to use it for off-road rallying, the same applies here.
Even the most expensive pair of Nike trainers designed for running will struggle to cope with rugged mountain hiking trails for example. Conversely, you would not expect to buy a pair of hiking boots and use them to run 100 meter sprints.
Obviously the quality of the shoe can make a difference, but it will not avoid the inevitable fail if they are continuously used for the wrong type of activity. On the other hand, if you choose the right type of shoe for the reasons it was originally designed, you can expect maximum value from your purchase.
Think of yourself, not just your shoes
The reason for paying attention to these things is not only to avoid having to dig deeply into your pockets to buy new shoes on a regular basis.
The main reason is to treat your body well. Doing so reduces your risk of injuries and discomfort. We all know that the wrong type of shoe or an ill-fitting pair can quickly cause blisters, athlete’s foot or other problems.
Look for shoes that allow your feet to breathe, and provide the right levels of ankle support and in-shoe cushioning that suit your feet. With this in mind, you can see why paying some due care and attention to your footwear takes on a greater importance.
Your shoes are a part of your life
Consider for a moment that apart from when you are relaxing at home, swimming or perhaps on the beach, your shoes are pretty much a permanent part of you. When a pair of shoes fit well and provide comfort you forget you have them on. Making the wrong choice and then persisting with it can be painful, distracting and expensive.
Buying your shoes according to your lifestyle is the best way to solve this challenge. To some extent, shoes are like everything in that you get what you pay for. But splashing the cash on the most expensive pair is not a silver bullet to the best solution.
Some careful thought and research before you make your purchase is a much more effective strategy. Not only will it ensure the shoes last, but it will stop you falling into the fast fashion trap of buying pair after pair due to changing trends or discomfort.