We Tested Affordable Running Shoes For Under R400… And They Work!
If you’ve decided to start running, you need a pair of actual running shoes designed for the sport. Hitting the pavement in your fave sneakers that look so hot with jeans is not a good idea. Firstly, your fave sneaks are going to get really worn really quickly (noooo!). Secondly, running in shoes that weren’t meant for running is a shortcut to injury. Not fun. But here’s the dilemma: Those fancy shoes could set you back the cost of a week’s groceries. And if you’re still deciding whether this sport is for you, do you really want to drop that kind of cash? We’re guessing the answer is a solid hell no. So when we came across the Maxed Recharge Running Trainer from MRP Sport, a pair of affordable running shoes that come in at just under R400 (what-whaaat!?), we had to give them a go. And the results were surprisingly positive. Here’s what you need to know…
1/ You should still have your feet assessed.
First, a disclaimer: I’m a neutral runner, which means I don’t have a problem with my feet rolling inwards as I run. If your feet do this, you could end up with serious pain in your knees, hips, ankles and even your back down the line. So you’d need special shoes or orthotic inserts that support your feet. You can get your feet assessed for free at a running shoe store. If you’re neutral, you’re good to go.
2/ They’re super light.
I’m a sucker for a bargain, so I’ve certainly bought my fair share of cheap shoes. Typically, I’ve found them heavy and clunky. But the Maxed Recharge Running Trainer has a snug fit and is extremely light. In fact, I wondered if the shoes might be too light…would they fall apart as soon as I took a step? Needless to say, they didn’t. But they did make hill sprints a whole lot more bearable – honestly, by the tenth one, every gram counts!
3/ You may need a bigger size.
Running shoes typically come in half sizes. As you run, particularly down hills, your feet slip forward a bit, so you need some extra space in the toe. Plus, your feet will swell slightly during your run, so you want a bit of room to accommodate that. The Maxed Recharge Running Trainer comes in actual sizes. So if you’re say, a small size five – as in, you sometimes wear a four – you can get a five and you should be fine. But if you’re comfortably a size five or sometimes wear size six, you may want to go with one size up.
4/ You need to wear them in a bit.
It’s never a good idea to run a race or even just a far distance (by your individual standards) in a new pair of shoes – your feet could get chafed, pinched or blistered because, like new jeans, new shoes are still hard and rigid. So you typically need to wear them in a bit. When I first put these shoes on, they felt very tight – especially since I’d gone for my actual size (see point three). I wore them for a five-kay treadmill run and my toes felt cramped. So I took a break from running in them and wore them out and about with jeans for a while and in my regular gym workouts. The next time I ran in them, they were a lot more comfy.
5/ They’re amazing in low-light conditions.
If you’re a pre-sunrise runner like me, you want as much reflective detail in your gear as possible. The Maxed Recharge Running Trainer has reflective flecks all around the heel that light up nice and bright to increase visibility. It’s a detail that actually isn’t that common in running shoes, so I was impressed to see it in these.
6/ You can wear them for gym.
I usually prefer a running shoe that has a lot of cushioning and bounce. These shoes have a flatter, harder sole, which was fine on those hill sprints, but I would have preferred a bit more bounce for long stints on flat terrain. The upside of that flat sole, though, is that I could wear them for gym and they handled barbell squats and box jumps just fine.
7/ They’re made for a half marathon.
Yup, the Maxed Gravity Charge II is pitched as a middle-distance shoe – meaning you could run a 10-kay or even up to 21km. Personally, come race day, I reach for my trusty favourites, but having spent some time in the Maxed Recharge Running Trainer, I think they’d hold up for a 10-kay. And if you’re just starting out and testing this whole running thing at your local ParkRun, these shoes are a great affordable option – if it turns out, you’re not much of a runner after all, you can still wear them to the gym!