Wait, Do I Get My Running Shoes From The Bargain Bin Now?

Reebok Symmetros $50 on Amazon

Happy Global Running Day! In these holiest of hours, let me share with you how I have totally deviated from the approved path. Guys, I have strayed away from the professional shoe fitting.


Don’t get me wrong – I’ve done a lot of proper fittings in my time, and I still think they’re a great idea for a lot of people and situations. Beginners definitely need to start with a pro shoe fitting. Maybe you’re looking for a shoe for a specific situation – a distance or a race – and need some guidance. You may be adamant about trying before you buy. Stuff like that.

Some fitters are spectacular, and I run walked away with a running shoe that made my heart sing… at least until the next model came out and ruins everything.

Running shoes

Tragically, however, I have also had professional shoe fittings where I dropped big money on what turned out to be the wrong shoe. I’m not saying this is wholly or even partially the fitter’s fault, per se. I do mean to suggest that there is a certain amount of luck involved in every fitting.


Your fitter may get your shoe size and instep height and feel for your big toe in the toe box and watch your gait, but at the end of the day all they really have to go on is your word. I like this; I don’t like this. My running plans are X, so I’d like my shoe to be Y. And so often, both sides are awash in amorphous uncertainty.

When everything’s clicking – rapport and understanding and the right shoe in stock – you may make sweet sweet foot magic. When it’s not, you’ve blown full price ($100+ on average; $200+ for most race supershoes) on a sneaker that isn’t really going to work for you. The only way to be sure – really, REALLY sure – is to try it.

I know many stores offer a return guarantee for up to a month after purchase, but I would argue that that’s not really enough time. There have been instances when I thought I had gotten the wrong shoe, when in fact all I truly needed was more time to adjust. Besides, this may be my social anxiety kicking in, but I’d feel weird returning shoes that were clearly used and would have to be scrapped.


Different fitters also have different approaches, and in my experience some are decidedly more hands on than others. I’ve had a couple that did little more than bring me the shoeboxes and let me take it from there. And personally I’ve had more luck with stores that have an actual treadmill you can run on as opposed to that mincing little three foot jog past the shoe display. Not all stores are big enough to accommodate big equipment like that.

And so slowly it began to occur to me… as I gain a better understanding of what I like and don’t like in a shoe, couldn’t I just as easily take some calculated gambles on my own time and dime?

Running shoes

Naturally, at first, many of my choices went wrong. But I learned from each of them. Yes, I have one support foot, and yet as it turns out I prefer a more neutral shoe; traditional stabilizers chafe my high instep. Sure, I know a lot of people are moving toward a lower drop, but when I try lower drops I run into issues. For now, let’s keep it around 10mm.

And with every shoe I’ve tried, I’ve honed in on what I like in a running shoe design. Not just concepts like bounce or categories like neutral vs. support. I mean increasingly I can look at the shape of a shoe’s sole and already know if I should click or keep scrolling. I’m reading specs and design descriptions and matching them to my mental checklist. Your girl now knows what she likes.


None of this would be nearly as big a deal if quality running shoes weren’t SO. DANG. EXPENSIVE. If the average sneaker cost me twenty bucks a pop, I’d walk out with 5 pairs at a time and see how it went.

Alas and alack, this is not the world we live in. And yet we are in luck: this plane of existence does offer the internet, and frequent sales, and apps that can track prices for you.

So here’s my new thing: I wait for the holiday sales. I troll Amazon and Poshmark and ebay. I find the shoes going on super-sale, and then I do some quick and cursory research. You know – like I’ll Google the name of the shoe in conjunction with Runner’s World or reddit and see what reviewers have to say. If it feels like a match to me, I take the plunge. No professional fitting required. This is how I found the Nike Pegasus 38, which I LOVED.

Nike Pegasus Running Shoes

Obviously the 39 was not as good and likewise the 40. Ain’t that always the way. As I said in that very post – I feel like I’m constantly searching.


Now, the Nike 38 hasn’t been out of production for that long, and I did find a cache from a third-party seller on Amazon. I came extremely close to buying a few pairs and becoming the Running Shoe Reanimator, which is a pretty good hook, don’t you think? The only problem was that the shoes were still selling a bit high, so I decided to set a price drop tracker (I use Honey; this here’s my link) and move on.

In the meantime, the Memorial Day sales were intriguing. I sifted through some of your more common brands – Brooks, New Balance, Hoka, etc. – and found that while some pairs looked interesting, none were sufficiently discounted to warrant taking a chance on. The bargain shoe system is rooted in bargain pricing, after all.

And then I stumbled upon an under the radar pick – the Reebok Floatride Energy Symmetros. While Reebok is a well-known brand in general, I find I don’t hear the name bandied about as much in running shoe circles. Curious!

Undeterred, I clicked through. The shape, the thickness, and the drop of the sneaker all looked promising, so I took to Runner’s World. The review I found was for the Symmetros 2, but the description piqued my interest. It was deemed excellent for long runs, with plush cushioning and a secure fit.

Reebok Symmetros running shoes

The Symmetros 2 is $140 on the Reebok website, and the Floatzig Symmetros is $150. The price of the OG Symmetros in my size on Amazon? Fifty. Bucks. Sold! (Affiliate link btw.)


I will be the first to admit that in my self-fitting running shoe quest I have ordered some clunkers. Thus far, the Reebok Symmetros is NOT one of them! I took them out for a spin and they felt GREAT. I’m still in low-mileage mode; the real test will be when I can take them on a proper long run. So far, however, so good.

Sure, you could argue that since the Reebok Symmetros is discontinued, I may easily find myself right back where I started if the Symmetros 2 isn’t my cup of tea. But I can just wade right back into the fray with my bargain running shoe methodology. Continuity is great, but testing new shoes is a runner’s delight. Again, I find myself constantly searching anyway. More money saved, more miles in new gear – how mad can a girl really be?


If you are a COMPLETE beginner – brand new to running and starting from mile zero – I’d say a professional shoe fitting is must-do. You lack a store of knowledge, and a good fitter will provide that for you. I can also see returning to a running store for a pro fitting if there were an array of shoes I wanted to test, or I were looking to try my first carbon plate racing shoe.

Once you’ve been in the game for awhile and have an idea of what tends to work for you, though, I dare to suggest you can make some of these decisions yourself. The internet is your dearest friend here, both for research purposes and for ferreting out the deals and discounts.

Not every sneaker can be a winner, of course. The potential risk is that this lesser amount of money is still wasted, but perhaps the fun of trying a new shoe is worth it no matter what?

That’s why I say: get out there and treat yourself to some cheap new shoes for Global Running Day. It’s the most wonderful time of the year!*

* JK, everyone knows this is the most wonderful time of the year.

Don’t forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall and on Instagram @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions or thoughts, leave a comment or email fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!


  1. I get a lot of shoes from the “bargain bin” now 😉 We have a store near us that does a twice a year “tent sale” which sells gently used shoes (those ones people do return within the first month). I think it’s $70 per pair or 2 for $120. So I usually scope that out and I’ve found some great shoes I don’t think I would have tried otherwise that way!

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