Upon opening the Sunday newspapers last weekend I discovered that one of the prominent multi-national supermarkets were showcasing their latest range of ‘running gear’. Among the products being offered were running shoes and apparel at some seriously low prices; the old saying ‘you get what you pay for’ immediately sprung to mind.
While it is not absolutely necessary to spend a fortune to get the best product, it is however, important to realise that there is a certain price to pay to get a quality piece of gear. The top sportswear brands rigorously test their product before it hits the shelves; I know from my time working with Saucony that they have a high performance lab in Boston where they road test all of their running shoe using athletes from the nearby university and I’m sure this process is replicated by most of the technical running shoe brands. The point is that what you put on your feet when running is pretty important considering that 4-5 times your body weight is going through the shoe when your foot hits the ground.
The same applies to technical sports apparel like compression gear which is supposed to prevent muscle oscillation and improve blood flow in the targeted area. This will only happen if the product is manufactured in a particular way i.e. generally warp knitted with quality yarn and containing a specific mix of Elastane to give it compression. Use of bonded hems and flat flexible seams give the product its durability and comfort that ‘cheaper’ alternatives cannot match. There are only few exclusive compression gear brands on the market and our brand of choice is Australian company SKINS.
While the technical merits of running shoes and compression gear are easy to distinguish the same cannot be said for running jackets, t-shirts, shorts and tights. However by paying a wee bit more for any of this gear from a reputable running brand you are getting a product that will fit you better, as it will be contoured to your body depending on your gender, and will last you longer as the materials being used are simply of better quality. They will also have a level of manufacturing detail, not evident in cheaper alternatives, which will enhance the products look and performance. The same applies to running socks; I’ve had some customers questioning the merits of spending their hard earned on special running socks, which cost a bit extra than regular socks, only for those same customers to come back and buy another pair! Quality products will speak for themselves.
Finally, in any run specialist you will find staff who will be able to give product advice and recommendations plus you will be able to try on and get your correct fit; from what I know I don’t think the supermarkets have the same service while they definitely don’t have any changing rooms!
So if its cheap product you’re after then head for the supermarket but if its value for money you want then go to your local sports store.