How I Review Running Gear and Shoes

Guide to Brooks running shoes

A common question I’ve gotten the last few months is: How do I review running gear and shoes? I’ve written over 500 posts reviewing things. 

While I consider myself an “expert” in running shoes, I don’t know everything. Every day I learn something new and every week I learn about a cool new brand.

Guide to Brooks running shoes

First, I worked on the floor of running specialty for over eight years. I started blogging in 2010. So there was a fairly long period I blogged and I didn’t write about running gear. That was when blogging was different and a story for another day.

Time flies!

Things change.

Brands evolve.

When I first started working, Hoka was a new and upcoming thing. If you brought Hokas out for someone to try on, you would have to include a little paragraph and encourage people to “just try them.” Now you see people running in Hoka regularly and it’s one of the most popular brands out there.

Hoka Clifton
One of the first Hokas in 2014

I say that to tell you the running industry is constantly evolving and changing. What was popular five years ago might not be now. Plus, as you know, with running shoes, technology is always evolving and changing.

I do get some products for free, and I do buy others. For the most part, I look and purchase products that I think I’ll like. Why would I buy something that I know I would hate? That doesn’t do anyone any favors.

I don’t want to work with plenty of brands because their values and mine don’t align. If I get paid to review it, of course, I mention that (it’s illegal not to mention it in the first paragraph…which also includes Instagram).

First, I look at the product:

Is the product something new and different? Is it considered “traditionally weird”? When massage guns first came out, they were deemed weird. Now they are everywhere with dozens of options out.

A few questions I look at:

  • Is the product brand new? A brand new shoe? Or is the product an update?
  • Is the shoe technology outdated?
  • If updated, has it changed considerably? Was it popular before the update? Was it “boring”? Did it need a change?
  • Is the product useful?
  • Cost: Everything is getting more expensive, but can we justify an $800 recovery device?
  • What is my experience with it? Are other people going to have a different experience?

Second, just because it doesn’t work for me doesn’t make it bad:

We know by now that running shoes and gear aren’t going to work for everyone. Just because it works for me doesn’t mean it will work for you and vice versa.

l have found throughout the years; many people review for what only works for them and don’t look at the big picture if it will work for everyone. I’m not saying people need to purchase shoes they know will hurt them for the sake of a review. I’m saying if a shoe doesn’t work for someone that doesn’t make it bad. It just doesn’t and it could still work for hundreds of people. What is great to someone, is terrible to someone else.

For instance, the Nike Vaporfly isn’t a shoe that works for me with my gait cycle. BUT it’s a very good shoe.  The Brooks Ghost is the most popular shoe in the running industry but isn’t a shoe I particularly like. It’s important to look at the whole picture instead of what works “just for you.” Neither of those shoes are “bad”, they just don’t work for me.

Have I Donated Products I don’t like?

Yes. There have been several products throughout the years I’ve donated because they aren’t for me, whether that’s shoes, clothing, or gear.

What You Can Expect:

You can always expect honesty. If I don’t think it’s great, I’ll let you know. Tactfully, of course. While yes, I want to keep a positive relationship with brands, I also don’t want to lie about something. There is no point.

When working with a brand, I always include (upfront) that my reviews are honest. If it does not work for me or I don’t think it’s excellent, I will let them know before it goes live. The majority request not to post, and that’s fine. If I purchase the product (and I do for the majority of things), I don’t owe a brand anything to post if it’s good or bad. For instance, I’ve thought the Brooks Levitate is bulky and heavy. The upper has cut through my ankles. I’ve posted that.

When looking at anyone’s reviews (mine or anyone else), I encourage you to take a look at who is posting. Is it an ambassador of the brand? (Of course, they are going to say it’s the best). Is it someone who got the product for free?  Does the person like the same type of shoe or gear that you do? At the end of the day, the reviewer can’t tell you how YOU feel in the shoe which is the most important piece.

You Can See All Gear Reviews Here.

Looking to learn more about running shoes? In my ebook, I talk about why you need a good running shoe, a shoe’s anatomy, neutral vs. stable, and even myths of running shoes.

Question for you: What is your current favorite running gear?