Monday, March 24, 2014

recap of running shoe demo day

if you ever have a chance to go to a shoe demo day, DO IT. this, by far, was one of the most awesome things i've done as a runner. i'm serious. for someone like me, who cannot find the perfect pair of running shoes to save her life, a day to try on as many shoes as you like and actually run outside in them was like finding a wad of cash in your coat pocket, except better (at least for me, anyway). 

the demo day went like this: you went up to a vendor booth, learned about the shoe(s) from the rep, exchanged either your own running shoes or id for a pair of their shoes and then you went outside for a run! there were different routes mapped out, of up to 1.4 miles, but you were really able to go wherever you wanted and test them however you liked. when you were done, you went back to the vendor, returned the shoes and that was it! they didn't sell anything at the demo day, so there was no pressure what so ever to say something nice about the shoes or no uncomfortable squirming out of a sale. you could just move onto the next vendor.

left side of the building

right side of the building

i didn't think any of the booth wait times were that long, but had the weather been better, i'm guessing the crowd would have been larger. either way, for a first time ever event and for the crowd size that did show up, i'd say things went pretty smooth from an attendee standpoint!

i tried on five brands of shoes while i was there, going out for a half mile run in each pair: brooks, altra, asics, newton, on.


the first shoe i tried was the brooks trance. i tested out a men's version in order to have a wider toe box - wide doesn't currently exist in the women's version. these felt like a typical running shoe, but with better cushioning and what felt like a sturdier ride. its hard to compare them to the hokas i've been running in as of late, but i'd say they're attempting a similar goal: max cushioning. i think the trance is lighter than the hokas, but heavier than your normal running shoe. i liked the trance a lot, though. it is tied for 2nd place out of all the shoes i tried.


i've been wanting to try altras forever. seriously. but my local running store only has two models and neither seemed like the right type of shoe for me. i asked the altra rep for a shoe with max cushioning and he brought me the olympus. because of the way the altra toe box is designed, i could actually wear a women's shoe! the shoe is a beautiful purple, something thats not really important to me, but is an added plus. holy crap, were these shoes cushioned!!! they felt so good on my feet, and i could tell that i didn't have the usual pressure on my metatarsals - which is a big relief. i enjoyed running in them - they didn't feel heavy and i felt like i was running in a more natural stride. the altras stole the spot for my favorite shoe of the day and i think i will be getting a pair soon.


i had never heard of this brand of shoe before, so the booth caught my eye. on's claim to fame is cushioning with a firm take off. they had a little demo pad you could step on to try the cushioning, and it felt great, so i decided to give the shoes a go. the bottom of the shoe looks weird - i don't think the picture i took does it justice. i had a hard time describing my experience with these. since i'm running in a max cushion shoe right now, they didn't feel as soft as my hokas are. but yet, they weren't hard either, like a normal running shoe. the rep said this is normal - depending on what shoe a person is in currently, they will have different experiences in whether the shoe is softer or feels more firm. makes sense. either way, i didn't like these. i felt like they didn't help my plantar fasciitis, so they were my least favorite shoe of the day. 


i have been curious about newtons, but had no idea if they could be a shoe for me. after explaining to the rep my problem issues, he said the shoe was designed for people like me (i took this as just a sales gimmick). he showed me the sole of the shoe and how it was designed, with forefoot padding that helped spread your metatarsal to help relieve the strain on them. maybe this was the shoe designed for me! i took off in a pair of men's newtons for the wider toe box. immediately just walking in them i could feel the difference in my metatarsal region. the shoes felt amazing! my test run in them felt just as good - no evident pain or strain in the tarsal region. i did, however, feel some pain in the plantar fasciitis, but not sure if that is shoe related, or a result of trying on many different shoes and trying to run in them. either way, the newtons tied for second place out of my favorite shoes that day.


last but not least, the asics gt 2000. this was a shoe i have flirted with for months. it was one of the ones i tried on in my original quest for shoes with the former olympian, but they didn't have the shoe in my proper size, so i didn't go any further with them. of course, i had to try them on given the chance, even knowing they were likely not going to be as cushioned as what i am running in now. i tried on a men's shoe (again, for the wide toe box), and found that it felt just as i expected it to: a stability shoe with nothing spectacular to report. i would compare it to my saucony guides, but it really didn't have anything special to offer, like the newtons, brooks or altras did for me. this shoe was my third favorite (fourth, technically) of the day.

overall, shoe demo day was awesome. i would 100% attend another event like this and i hope i get the opportunity to do so! my best advice, for someone who was going to attend an event like this, is to plan for at least a half day trying on shoes. brandon and i were there for about two hours - the time passed quickly, but we really had no idea we would be there for that long! thank you to run detroit, for hosting this awesome event!!

here we are, happily trying on shoes

has anyone had experience in any of the brands/models i tried? i'd love to get your thoughts!


  1. Great review! Are these demo days open to the public or something you did through your work? I am so glad to see you feature the Altra Olympus! I just got those in the mail Friday. I love the purple color but was a little uncertain about all the cushion and a stacked heel. They are meant for trail and road but are very rugged. I think they are very comfortable but mentally I am having a hard time thinking they are a good fit for me because I am not use to having SO much cushion.

  2. This event sounds like so much fun! I love that you got to try shoes that you hadn't been able to find before and the colors for all of them are great. I love a pair of flashy kicks :)

  3. I would love to try something like this. I also didn't love the Asics GT2000. just like you said, it's a nice shoe, and does the job, nothing outstanding. I've heard of newtons and the guy at my running store suggested them once but they didn't have my size. So I never went back. I've never heard of altra or ons. Glad you had a great chance to do all that!

  4. I love LOVE my Brooks! So comfortable, great support, and great cushion! Amazing running shoe!

  5. That is such a fantastic idea!! I've never heard of a shoe demo day before. I'm always nervous about trying a new shoe (and that is why I've stuck with the same shoe for years now), but this would be a great opportunity to flirt with a lighter weight shoe, or trying something different like Newtons.


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