Shelling out for the right running shoes

LOS ANGELES In a recent test, Consumer Report tested the shoes of nine men and women who ran more than 1,200 miles. The tests covered all big name brands, including Nike, New Balance, Asics and Adidas. The shoes cost anywhere from $80 to $120. But the test also included the "Champion" brand from Target, which costs a mere $30.

Shoes were tested based on a few features -- flexibility, cushioning and stability, and breathability. It turns out the inexpensive shoes were just as flexible as those that cost much more. However, when it came to cushioning and stability, consumer specialists say the cheap choice was not among the highest rated.

The final feature, breathability, was based on how much runner's feet sweat while wearing each shoe. Testers put dampened socks into the shoes and left them in a climate-controlled chamber for hours. They then checked the weight of the shoes to see how much water had evaporated. The inexpensive shoes fell a little short.

"[The] shoe has a solid, fabric upper. It's not very porous at all," said Peter Anzalone of Consumer Reports.

The final results revealed the top choice for both men and women runners was Nike's "Air Zoom Vomero Plus 2". The pair runs about $120. They were the only shoes tested that received an excellent score for cushioning.

Experts say the most important thing is to make sure your shoes fit correctly. They say you should shop at a specialty store and ask experienced sales associates for help. Consumer specialists also suggest you take a pair of well-worn running shoes with you to the store, because the wear pattern could help the sales associate find the right shoe for the way you run.


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