How Much Do Running Shoes Cost? From Cheap to Expensive

A running shoe that pays the price may make your feet thank you for life. But a major boon associated with their price graph is that it has always gone up! Thus, if you still run away after seeing their price tags, you are not alone.

So, how much do running shoes cost? Today, you’ll find running shoes in the $20 to $200 range, with prices even going up to $600 in some. While this may raise your eyebrows, there are multiple factors for this. For instance, labor, shipping, design, branding, added technology, and, most importantly, economy. People pay for it!

But is the price really important for a running shoe? Or can you qualify the quality at a reduced quantity? Read till the very end to uncover everything.

What is the Average Price of Running Shoes?

how much do running shoes cost

Since running barefoot is not an option, it’s not surprising that the shoe economy is still one of the fastest-growing economies today. Thanks to the skyrocketing inflation, shoe prices made their highest jump (of 6%) in 2022, which broke all records of the past 40 years.

To add fuel to the fire, athletic shoes aren’t much behind. According to Statista, athletics shoes made a remarkable revenue of US$52.98bn in 2023 and will continue to increase annually by 4.15% for the next five years! 

As for the average price, athletic shoes cost around $103 or $80 to $120 for the most part.

Are expensive running shoes worth it?

It’s 50/50 for me. I would say, yes, they are worth it to some extent, but it depends on how expensive you’re talking about. 

But if you’re deciding between a minimal range difference, like $100 and $130, it wouldn’t make much difference in quality and might still be valuable at that price. For instance, ASICS costs slightly lesser than Brooks yet offers the ultimate cushioning.

But some studies still support that expensive shoes aren’t always the best. For instance, Dr. Daniel Lieberman of Harvard University says that people who ran before the invention of athletic shoes had lower injuries and stronger feet.

Plus, you have to change your shoes after a certain period annually. So, choose wisely.

Should you avoid cheap running shoes?

Yes, you should. Or let me rearrange my claim. You should avoid extremely cheap shoes, especially those under $40. Why? Because obviously, lower than $40 means poor quality, with minimized cushioning and durability. Why? Because quality materials, like PU, cost a lot in general. 

But that doesn’t mean you can’t run fast in cheap shoes. In a thorough comparison of Nike’s cheapest and most expensive running shoes, Göran Winblad discovered that the pricey pair felt noticeably lighter on the legs, but the difference in race completion time was negligible. This concludes that your potential, not the cost of your footwear, is what ultimately determines your speed as a runner. 

So, while investing in high-end running shoes may provide some benefits, it’s not a substitute for consistent training and natural ability. 

Nike running shoes

How much does a person spend on running shoes every year?

As per a Statista survey, it was seen that 25% of people spent around 101 and 120 USD on running shoes annually. Not just that. As per another study, it was found that a larger number of audiences prefer to buy shoes appearing in the $40 – $80 category.

But since you have to change shoes every four months, most running enthusiasts tend to spend $250 for two pairs, even if they run 40-50 miles weekly. 

How Much Does It Cost to Make a Shoe in China?

Did you know that? All your famous US shoe brands like Puma, Nike, Adidas, and Vans source their shoes from China. Though this might trigger that ‘made in China’ inexpensive economy reputation in some of you, China’s product quality has increased over the years.

So, with that improvement, how much does it cost to make a shoe in China? 

On average, a $70 shoe would take $15 to be made in China. Yes, shoes require a lot of things in making– the design, raw materials, testing, molding, and whatnot. Though most of these manual steps are replaced by shoemaking machines in China, the cost of those machines is no less than $3000!

Not just the making, but the cost of shipping shoes from China to the U.S. and the following importation to other countries will raise your eyebrows too!

For instance, Ocean freight air shipping from China to the US costs around $5 to $9 per pair (or 1 kilo), while sea freight costs around $3000-$3900 per container. And since a container can hold around 5000 pairs of shoes, the total price of one pair from sea freight would be ($3000/5000=$0.6).

Once the shoes arrive in the US, you must import them legally, which adds to another set of charges. For instance, the government charges around 8 to 10% of the F.O.B. price for leather shoes, and customs and insurance make 0.3464% of the shoes’ value (when the total product value exceeds $2,500).

So, when you add all costs, the final cost of the shoes in the warehouse is far more than their initial cost, explaining the hefty cost of their making clearly.

Are Cheap Running Shoes as Good as Expensive Ones?

running shoes

I have already given my two cents on this in the previous sections. Yes, expensive running shoes might not show you much difference in catching up speed, but they massively impact your overall ride.

This thing was observed in a test conducted by Global Triathlon Network. They saw that cheaper shoes made it to the finish line, but made their feet more tired with every step, combined with blisters and tingling. In short, they could feel a drastic comfort difference from their regular shoes.

How long do running shoes last?

Whether you’re paying through the nose or going easy on your pockets, we all want our running shoes to turn out durable. So, how long do running shoes last? There isn’t one answer to this question, and I have seen three rules of thumb:

  • Firstly, the lighter your shoe is, the longer it will last. You can say lightweight shoes have lesser built-in materials, so lesser tear is understood. 
  • Secondly, the durability depends on how you run in them. For instance, running on soft surfaces adds more life to running shoes than tough surfaces.
  • Lastly, the stitch. Yes, it’s true. Glued shoes last less long than stitched shoes. So, if your running shoes have sturdy stitches, especially the Goodyear welt, you’ll have them for years.

So, now you know the multiple factors that affect running shoes’ durability, what can be the possible length of it? Experts and some studies recommend replacing running shoes after every 300 to 500 miles, which roughly estimates 4 to-6 months for someone running 20 miles a week.

However, this period may be reduced if you’re a hardcore runner or have a tougher running routine, etc.

How to choose running shoes?

how to choose running shoes

Here’s the truth. Cost isn’t the only thing that defines how you should choose your running shoe. You need to cross-check everything that goes with your feet and running routine. So, let’s dive into the checklist for choosing running shoes:

Foot type

Comfort over everything! I can share countless studies showing how poorly fitted shoes call foot pain and disorders, whereas around 33% of people don’t even give a damn!

That’s why it’s so crucial to choose a running shoe according to your foot type. But what’s my foot type? Do a wet test (moisten your foot, place it on paper, remove, and notice the footprint pattern):

  • If you can see your entire footprint, you have a low/flat arch or are an overpronator
  • A footprint showing half of your arch demonstrates that you are a normal pronator or have a medium/normal arch
  • But if your footprint only shows your heel, toes, and the ball of your foot, without much connection, you are an under pronator/supinator with a high arch.

So, What Are the 3 Types of Running Shoes?

Three types of running shoes exist for different pronation types: Stability, motion control, and cushioning shoes.

  • If you overpronate, make motion-control shoes your best friend. They typically cost around $40 to $200.
  • If you’re a runner with a normal arch and control, stability shoes are for you, and their price matches that of motion control shoes.
  • Lastly, go for cushioning shoes if you under pronate. As for the price, due to the large variety, you’ll find them anywhere between $20 to even higher than $300!
running shoes with cushioning


Since the amount of impact your body absorbs during runs equals thrice your body weight, you can’t miss out on cushioning. Cushioning in running shoes helps prevent your feet from the resulting aches and lets you land softly. 

However, you have to be very limited with your choice. Why? Because studies have shown, ultra cushioning promotes injuries like stress fractures and plantar fasciitis injury. Excessive softness reduces the natural spring function of the foot, thereby aggravating pressure on the lower body and promoting injuries.

Another thing. Cushioning doesn’t stay for life long in athletic shoes, and so becomes a major indicator for switching shoes if declined.

Heel drop

Since running is about landing on your heels, you must choose the heel-toe drop (the height difference between heel and forefoot) that goes accordingly. Why? Because heel drop changes your gait and pressure implied on your lower body areas.

Now, there are four heel-drop types:

  1. Zero drop (0 mm) – meant for forefoot and midfoot strikers, as the landing is very flat and feels barefoot.
  2. Low drop (1–4 mm) – meant for natural midfoot and forefoot strikers who fear injuries, as the ankle absorbs more impact in such.
  3. Mid drop (5–8 mm) – since this type lies in the medium or minimalist category, it works for many types of strikers, especially those landing on the forefoot first. According to a study, forefoot strikers ran 9.2 times faster in mid-drops than rearfoot strikers (who still were around 70% in total).
  4. High drop (9–14 mm) – best for people with lower leg issues (like Achilles heel) and those who land on the heel first as it prevents overstriding of the forefoot and shifts impact to knees and hips.

However, you shouldn’t mix the heel-toe drop with cushioning or stack height (the quantity of material between the feet and ground), as both are different.

Regardless of how you strike your foot, I suggest running and trying different heel drops, increasing the drop length by every 2 mm. Why? Because it’s not necessary to change your heel drop if you are okay running in your previous one, and also, different feet adapt differently to various drop lengths.

Toe Box width

According to NationwideChidren’s, you should have a finger’s width gap between the longest toe and the end of the toe box. This amount of gap pushes your feet to expand during runs.

And when you have foot problems, like hammertoe, mallet toe, and bunions, you would need a wider toe box to allow your toes to breathe.


According to Dr. Nelya Lobkova, your shoe should weigh less than 8 ounces to qualify for being lightweight. And if you take a look, running shoes lying in the lightweight category today weigh in the range of 6.5 and 13 ounces. 

Mind you, just like in the case of durability, the shoe’s weight immensely affects your running. According to an old Nike research, it was found that adding 3.5oz to the same set of shoes elevates the aerobic running demand by 1%. It’s because the lighter the shoe’s weight, the lesser mechanical strength will be needed to carry it. So, if you are into running, you must test the weight your feet can carry.

running man

What affects the running shoes’ life?

I believe the shoe starts to lose its life when you first take it out of the box. The materials, UV light, humidity, bacteria, and moisture – everything tends to interact with its shelf life. Let’s see the things that you have some control on:

Your weight and height

Yes, size matters. The taller and heavier you are, the more impact you’ll have on your shoes. That’s why I recommend buying shoes according to your striking style.

Pronation or running techniques

Pronation plays a great role in determining durability. For instance, overpronators will wear out their running shoes faster than neutral runners. And the same goes for how much you run in them.

Shoe construction

Shoes made from PU, SBES, and PEBA foam last more than EVA-based. So, the shoe material and construction play a huge role in deciding the durability.


Investing in a running shoe is considered a smart investment, and rightly so. And since athletes are more concerned about their shoes’ stability, going for extremely cheap shoes would be a naive choice. 

So, on average, good running shoes have a starting price of $100, and most people prefer to pay that too. And I would suggest not to fall for extremely high prices, considering their average shelf lasts around four months.

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