1. Sample shoes at a specialty store
Take an old pair of your running shoes to a specialty running store. These stores have shoe fit specialists who can analyze the wear on your shoes for free! They'll see if you overpronate or underpronate when you run, then recommend the right pair for you. Although they would like you to buy the exact pair they recommend on the spot, you don't have to — use their recommendations to see if you can find a better deal online.
Getting specialized advice is a good idea because, while I love a good deal on absolutely anything, it's extremely important that running shoes provide the necessary support to help you avoid injuries. All running shoes are not created equal, and I don't recommend going for the cheapest pair you can find online. I'd rather spend a little bit more money on a good pair of shoes now than injure myself and be paying for physical therapy later.
2. Ask for last year's or a discontinued model
When a salesperson recommends a particular pair, ask if they have an older model still available. The running shoe market is saturated and very competitive. Brands are constantly tweaking their running shoe technologies and releasing new models to try to outsell each other. The deal-seeking customer benefits, because an "old" model might only be a couple months old. It's certainly not different enough to alter your performance.
So if the salesperson suggests you buy the ASICS Gel Nimbus 15, ask if they still have the ASICS Gel Nimbus 14. The older model will be less expensive because they are trying to make room for the new one. And if they don't have it in the store, it's likely you can find it online.
3. Find discontinued models at outlet malls and warehouse stores
If a store can't sell their shoes quickly enough to make room for the new models, those discontinued shoes will end up in outlets or discount stores like Marshall's, T.J.Maxx, or DSW. I find that these stores can be hit-or-miss when it comes to fashionable clothes, but I don’t care about how cute my running shoes look, which really comes in handy! The shoes at these stores all tend to look similar to each other, so I'm happy if I can find a pair in my size. Plus, these stores run their own sales, discounts and coupons, so you can potentially save even more.
4. Big race coming to your area? Hold out for the expo!
Race season has officially started. You can likely find a nearby 5k, half marathon, or other race every weekend from now until Thanksgiving. Sports stores love races because it's a great way to put their product in front of interested customers and clean out older stock. And these races are great for you because you don't have to be a race participant to shop the surrounding booths or tents!
The bigger the race, the better luck you'll have finding a deal. For larger races, participants often have to attend an expo to pick up their race packet, number, and freebie t-shirt. At these expos, vendors purchase booths, and that's where the real deals are. From my experience, running stores basically bring everything they're struggling to get rid of in the store to these events in the hopes of selling it all. I've even had luck haggling at expos! If you can't get the price down, see if they'll throw in something extra for free.
5. Sign up for a loyalty club
Athletic stores have rewards programs just like your local and chain grocery stores. Sports Authority has a program called the League, which awards you a point for every dollar you spend. Every three months, you get 5 percent back. That may not seem like a lot, and 5 percent back on one pair of shoes is certainly not enough to buy another pair. But it is enough to buy their partner in crime: socks! You only need one pair of shoes, but I go through socks like crazy!
My local running stores have their own rewards programs. Fleet Feet is a running store with locations across the country. Their free Personal Rewards Program (also referred to as PR, which is also running lingo for personal record) gives you a $15 store credit for every $150 you spend in store merchandise. If you don’t have a location near you, check with your local specialty running store to see if they have a similar program.
6. Follow us here, and on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest!
We here at the Krazy Coupon Lady are always on the lookout for deals, and there are online deals for running shoes aplenty! We frequently post running shoe deals on shoe retailer sites like 6pm.com and running shoe retailers like Joe's New Balance Outlet and Reebok.com. If there's a deal out there, we're bound to find it and let you know!