Why Are Running Shoes So Fugly?

I demand some answers, and I demand them right now

An abomination before the Lord

From the very bottom of my heart, I love running.

Taking it up has had positive repercussions on virtually every aspect of my life. It’s made me stronger, happier, more confident and a nicer person to be around. I seriously wouldn’t swap it for a million quid. But Sweet Christmas Baby Jesus, there is one aspect of it that I loathe with every fibre of my being: the shitting, titting, rotten shoes. So why are running shoes so ugly?

We have to dress our feet up in something a thick child might draw

Running shoes have been so hideous for so long that we runners seem to have simply given up hope and accepted it as the price we pay to engage in the activity we love. We all know the deal: If we want to run in comfort, we have to dress our feet up in something a thick child might draw if asked to design footwear for a robot spaceman from the future.

Hopefully somebody was fired – or at least slapped across the face – for this

It’s now gotten to the point where it feels like running-shoe manufacturers are straight-up trolling us – smirking into their sleeves as they send wave after wave of increasingly revolting designs onto sports-shop shelves. “Surely they won’t buy this one?” they giggle. “Surely we’ve gone too far this time with the plasticky sheen, the queasy colours, the comically out-sized soles and all these pointless little faffy bits?”

Take, for example, the shoes at the top of this page. Released this week to much fanfare, these trainers are limited-edition London Marathon tie-ins from Brooks, a major player in the running-wear game. They are no doubt extremely comfortable and an absolute dream to run in. But just look at them. Just look at the rancid sods.

Gaze upon their hideousness. Drink in their wretchedness. Yes, those are little red phone-boxes on there.

Some helpful design notes. You are very welcome, Brooks

Picture yourself wearing them, outside, in full view of the public. Can you imagine what that would actually be like? Can you imagine just casually jogging about the place with these horrors on your feet, like some kind of world-class wazzock?

They look like they should cost a fiver from Discount Shoe Barn

They look like they should be a fiver from out a clearance basket at somewhere called Discount Shoe Barn – but they actually cost £110. Shouldn’t shoes that expensive look expensive? Is that really too much to ask?

Catastrophic as they are, these Brooks shoes are by no means aberrations. Even cool, trend-setting sportswear brands seem determined to inflict aesthetic misery on runners’ feet.

Take, for example, the most on-trend footwear brand of the moment, New Balance. Their ‘normal’, non-specialist trainers are available in a kaleidoscope of desirable designs – but if you want some New Balance to actually run in, you’re forced to wear what appear to be two shit model spaceships. It’s an outrageous injustice, is what it is.

You’d need a thumb the size of a fire extinguisher to give this shoe the thumbs-down it deserves

Did you know that one in five relationships now begin as a result of people meeting while running or working out? I’ve just made that up – it’s not even slightly true. But whose fault is that, eh? If we weren’t all rendered un-fanciable by having to exercise in orthopaedic clown shoes designed by colour-blind sadists, that fictional statistic could become a very sexy reality.

Despite what that swaggering bozo wielding a selfie stick down your local gym might think, fitness isn’t just about looking good – but it needn’t be about looking crap, either. So come on, sportswear manufacturers. Be reasonable. Knock it off, yeah?


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