Paying full whack for a new pair of trainers

This weekend was a weekend of firsts. I bought my first pair of running trainers since I was at school – and that was a good while ago now. I also paid full price. That’s something I hardly ever (never?) do. What’s going on?

At the start of the year my boyfriend and I decided it would be good to actually get in the habit of exercising. My brother had just started a running programme which he’d found online – the official British army fitness programme, no less. He had persuaded his girlfriend to join in and they seemed to be having some success – and more importantly, some fun – with it. I don’t know whether it was the New Year when all those good intentions are at the forefront of our minds, or the glorious sunny weather (oh it is lovely to be in Australia after New Year when the evenings are still light and the sun is shining) that inspired us but my boyfriend and I decided to give it a go.

Neither of us are runners. I often tell the story of the (one and only) time that I entered a fun run, as a teenager. I was THE LAST PERSON to finish. I was beaten by the eight year old who had missed her own age-group race and had taken part in ours. I was also beaten by a boy who had a twisted leg, possibly as the result of polio, and was registered disabled. The mayor (who was at the finish line to hand out medals) laughed at me. No, running is not my thing.

(I probably should add here that I do actually enjoy sport. I was a member of an athletics club in my teens – I used to pole vault! I trained really hard, competed and was ranked pretty highly for my age-group. Even then, I could never run more than 300 metres without feeling the need to collapse.)

Not being one to spend unnecessary money, I decided to make do with the shoes I had. I had a pair of Onitsuka Tiger ‘trainers’ that offer zero support and zero cushioning, and I figured they’d be fine. I didn’t want to splash out on new shoes if this was just a fad.

The running programme was surprisingly fun. The trainers, however, were not. I pulled a muscle in my hip. I twisted my ankle. Almost every time we went running my knees would hurt, then swell, which meant they no longer hurt but I’m sure I wasn’t doing them any good. As we progressed and the running times got longer, my knees got worse. Eventually, a combination of cold weather, rain and sore knees made me retire for the winter.


Can you spot the cushioning? No? Ah, that’d be because there isn’t any! No wonder my poor knees were suffering!

Well spring is fast approaching, and I want to get back into the swing of doing some physical activity. Coming home from the farmers market on Saturday we walked past a trainer shop and decided to go in. I had no idea what I needed, so what better than to get someone-who-knows-what-they’re-talking-about’s opinion?

They did all their measuring and made me walk on a funny machine, and then handed me a few pairs of shoes to try. They were all in fluorescent colours. Apparently that’s what the cool kids are wearing these days. Alas, I’m not a cool kid, but non-cool kids don’t seem to have a choice. The ones that fitted best were hot pink. Anyone who knows me will know that hot pink is NOT my colour. Once they’re teamed with my old tee-shirt with the holes and my shorts that are about 10 years old, I’m sure I’ll look a sight. Hopefully though, my knees will love me for it.

Once I found the ones that fitted best, I looked at the price. Not cheap. I knew I could get them cheaper on the internet. Australia is pretty pricey for most things, and high-street shops are always more expensive. But there’s no way that I could have gone on the internet without the help of the girl in the shop telling me what was suitable and ferrying back and forth the boxes of shoes, plus there was the machine that told us what I needed in the first place.

Have you ever bemoaned the loss of small independent shops? The loss of the high-street? The fact that global companies like Amazon are taking over, squeezing out the little guy and affording to do what they do because they can structure their business in ways that mean they don’t pay tax? Why else are all these Head Offices in Switzerland and Luxembourg?

I know I have.

I don’t buy new things very often, but although I desire to be a responsible consumer, I do I ALWAYS look for the cheapest price. That’s not always what I base my final decision on – I try to support more ethical companies even when they charge higher prices and there are some companies I’d never give money to regardless of price – but it’s always something I consider. I’m improving all the time, but I’d love to be better. So for the first time EVER I didn’t check, didn’t even wander to the other shoe shop a few doors away just to look; I handed over my card.

Of course, when I got home I did have a look on the internet. Of course I found them cheaper. Not, actually, in hot pink, but in hot coral. Is that a better look?! Who knows. I wasn’t annoyed, though, and I was glad about that. It was pretty obvious I’d be able to get them cheaper. Now I’ve had more time to think about it, I’m actually really pleased. I’m pleased that I resisted the urge to leave the shop and waste that girl’s time just to save a few dollars. I supported a local business. I feel like money has a tiny little bit less of a hold on me than it did before. Plus, because I paid full whack for them rather than getting a bargain, I have so much more incentive to make sure they get a LOT of action.

7 replies
  1. Heidi @ lightlycrunchy
    Heidi @ lightlycrunchy says:

    We are about to outfit both of our kids with school shoes for the season. Having worn sandals through the summer, theyve now outgrown the pairs that they had already. We chose to spend our money in the sports store in our small town, buying good quality so that we don’t have to replace them again in a few months. The money stays local and we feel good about our purchases.

    • treadingmyownpath
      treadingmyownpath says:

      Before I saw any, the girl in the shop asked if I minded about colour. I was just saying no, I just wanted something to support my knees when she opened a box of BRIGHT FLUORESCENT YELLOW trainers with matching laces. I was speechless. I’m glad they didn’t fit as well as the others, I feel like I’m lucky I only had to deal with bright pink! C’mon Sandy, get some brightly coloured shoes – then we can be cool kids together!

  2. Coralie Pittman
    Coralie Pittman says:

    Thanks for supporting the shop. I work in retail in a book shop and people come in and browse and ask for recommendations and then go home and buy off amazon. It is killing our family owned business. I appreciated your post and hope it inspires others to support the bricks and mortar businesses out there that offer great customer service.

    Sent from my iPad

    • treadingmyownpath
      treadingmyownpath says:

      Wow, I did not realise they were 18 months old! I have worn a hole in the toe actually, and was cross at how quickly they had deteriorated considering how new they are!

      I wear them at least a couple of times a week. When I was walking every day, I wore them every day, so they’ve been used a bit. I have no intention of replacing them any time soon, either. The hole is on the top, on the fabric part (by my big toe) – I’m thinking I’ll just sew it up!

  3. Alison Deacon
    Alison Deacon says:

    I’m a podiatrist in the uk
    The trainers are not fitting you well
    See a podiatrist in Australia as you may need a cheap pair of basic neutral trainers but an orthotic to help make your gait better
    I don’t believe that running on a treadmill actually illustrates how you actually run
    All the very best


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