Runner’s World: Remember those shoes we spent 30 years telling you to buy? Never mind.

by Christopher on June 24, 2012

In Dec. 2008, Runner’s World slipped this footnote into its shoe review:

We’ve reported in the past that a more stable shoe will help relieve the pain you feel just ahead of the heel. But recent research has shown that stability shoes are unlikely to relieve plantar fasciitis and may even exacerbate the symptoms.

Translation: “Those $100 shoes we’ve been telling you to buy for years? Turns out they’re worse than worthless.”
RW’s excuse is the same one Citigroup and Countrywide and Fannie Mae deployed as it tried to scuttle away from the subprime mortgage crisis: “No one could have seen this coming. We acted as soon as we got the information.”

That’s not an alibi, of course; it’s an indictment. They pretended they were experts — and cashed in on that authority of expertise — when in truth, they didn’t know what they were talking about.

Now, Runner’s World is slipping in another correction. In the March, 2012 issue, it began slinking away from the once hugely-profitable, and now discredited, “motion-control” shoe. They did it so quietly I missed it, even though I’d been shocked to hear RW’s shoe reviewer, Warren Greene, hint as much at a seminar more than a year ago.

Barefoot in Arizona has the story, including this bullseye analysis:

why do so many people believe they need pronation-controlling posts to run but no one believes they need Reebok Pumps to play basketball? It isn’t because the runners were convinced by studies showing the benefits of motion-control shoes, because they aren’t any. It’s because two generations of runners have been told they need them by the only major source of independent shoe reviews.

Incidentally, this major source of “independent” shoe reviews has NEVER published a negative review — not, at least, since Nike temporarily pulled its advertising back in the ’80s. As Runner’s World’s founder laments, the shoe review he’d created as a form of consumer protection is now “a grading system where you can only get an A.”

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