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North Texas

Big Data, Lots of Shoes

So I have a lot of running shoes. Say hello to the family:

A couple of these are retired, and a few more are getting close, but it’s still gonna be a while before they’re laid to rest. Mostly because I’m at the point that I can run in a different pair of shoes every day of the week (and I do!) and still have some left over.

The thing is, I didn’t pay for half of these. Otherwise I wouldn’t have so many.

I’m analytical to a fault. I over-research everything and like to make decisions based on data. Numerical, cold, quantitative data, preferably. So when I’m thinking of buying a pair of running shoes, that’s the approach I take. Not only do I do my research, but I keep a spreadsheet of the data and update it when new releases come out. Behold:

That’s only a quarter of it. Shoes are broken down into four types: Road Training, Road Racing, Trail Training, and Trail Racing. Each gets its own spreadsheet.

Shoe manufacturers are inconsistent about posting measurable specs of their shoes on their website, and some of them simply have poorly designed websites. If I want to find a trail running shoe, 10+ oz, in a < 10 mm drop, that should be easy to find, but instead, they want me to search by “collection.” Am I interested in a Summit Series shoe or a Champion Series? What the hell does that even mean??

Nike is the worst offender here. Their collections:  Zoom, Air Max, Lunarlon, Free, Flyknit, Flywire, Air, Shox, FlyEase, React. Each of those collections has different models within it. None of those names tell you anything about the shoe.

So to get data, I used an old standby: Google. When I searched, I kept noticing the same page,, popping up, and not only did it have data on the shoe’s specs, but it had reviews. Aggregated reviews. On a more precise scale than five stars, which is a flawed system:

When you live in a small town without a running shoe store and you don’t have a car, you have to buy all your running shoes online without even trying them on. A site like this was a godsend. Now I could get all the data I wanted to populate my spreadsheet and make decisions based on numbers, not on a salesman’s pitch.

On top of that, I could read testimonials on how it fits, how it performs, what types of runners like it best, and compare based on an aggregate score. Some shoes might check all the boxes when it comes to the numerical specs, but no one seems to like them, or vice versa. That’s good to know.

After an embarrassingly long time, I noticed a link on that read, “Apply to become an expert”. Yeah, why not?? I like writing about running, and I’ve posted reviews of my running shoes in the past. Not for any particular reason, simply because I enjoyed writing them. A couple emails later, I was in.

The coolest part? On occasion, they hook you up with free shoes! Every five reviews you write, you get one pair of your choosing. On top of that, every so often, a shoe company wants runners to test out their shoes and write reviews about them. I’ve gotten five pairs in the past five months. You don’t always get to choose which ones you want, or you might only be able to choose between a couple models from a specific brand. But hey, free running shoes!

Even if you don’t wind up writing reviews, I recommend as the best source for running shoe info, especially if you’re a number-cruncher like me.

Mar 11, 2018
from Misc
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Jun 01, 2018

I am a carbon-based life form.


Read about Coyote's adventure with his father in Central Texas. Music, food, wheels, family, all the finer things in life.

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