5 Rules About Buying and Wearing Triathlon Running Shoes - Part 2

In the last blog, we looked at the important areas of supporting your local running shop, knowing your gate, and speed laces. Here are the final considerations you’ll need to know for your optimal triathlon shoe purchase:


4. Don’t Buy into Gimmicks

The title of this rule may indicate that I’m using gimmick as a dirty word. I’m not. Sometimes gimmicks are great! Just look at the TV remote. That was a gimmick once upon a time. You certainly don’t need one. But life is definitely much better with that little black rectangle your grandparents can’t seem to figure out.

Likewise, running shoe gimmicks might be totally legitimate technologies that do help with your running needs. On the other hand, they might also be nothing more than marketing ploys set out to entice you to buy the latest, coolest material, which doesn’t necessarily provide any added benefit.

Basically what I’m saying here is don’t buy a shoe just because it’s touting a new “feature” that apparently will transform you into a Kenyan. It won’t.

I’ve worked in a running store and heard a lot of fancy buzzwords thrown around like “rollbars,” “boost foam,” “lugs,” “gel cushion,” and so on. As I said, some of these features did provide small benefits and I liked them. However, the basis for me approving of the gimmick was that the shoe felt good to run in.

That’s really the de facto rule I use when people ask me for my advice about buying and wearing triathlon or running shoes. Does it feel good? Does running in ‘shoe A’ feel better than ‘shoe B’? Is it natural? Does it feel right?

If the gimmick supports a natural feeling on your feet while you’re running and there are no glaring biomechanics problems, then I don’t care if the marketing team is calling its new feature the “paper mache foam.” As long as the structure and basic philosophy behind the shoe is sound, then all that matters is that the shoe works for you.

And speaking of how a shoe feels –


5. Test Them!

Buying shoes without ever having ran in them is about as pointless as decaf coffee. You’d be amazed how many times I had to practically force my customers to take the shoes they were trying on for a test spin.

“You did say you want these for running right?”

“Yes, they feel pretty good.”

“Yeah but you’re walking right now. You need to run in them because they’ll feel different when running as opposed to walking.”

“No I’m good. I’ll take these.”

I could only shake my head.

When you go to the store, try on as many shoes as your little heart desires. But once you’ve narrowed down the litter, always be sure to run in them, preferably at different race paces. You’d be surprised how the shoe takes on a new life when running – good or bad.

Sure things might change after a hundred miles under the shoes, but at least you won’t be halfway through your first run and already be regretting the decision. You wouldn’t buy a car without test driving it first. The same goes for running shoes.


My additional advice for buying and wearing triathlon running shoes is not to fall for gimmicks and always, always, always run in the shoes before purchasing.


What shoe feature gimmicks have you heard in the past? Do you always give your shoes a test run before purchasing them?

JARED MILAM is a professional triathlete, TriDot coach, and member of the Tri4Him Pro Team. He has 16 years of competitive running experience and 11 years of competitive triathlon experience with a half Iron PR of 3:59 and a full Iron PR of 8:30. Coaching under the TriDot system since 2011, Jared loves working with aspiring triathletes of all ages and performance levels.

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