Running requires very little in the way of equipment when compared to other popular sports. Essentially, you just need shoes and a space to run.
Obviously, there is a market for running-specific gear, like shoes, apparel, supplements, and accessories. For most runners, shoes will be their biggest investment.
If you go into any running or fitness store, you’re likely going to find two top brands, Nike and Brooks, among the crowd favorites.
So, what is the difference between these two brands of shoes, and which is better for you?
I’m sure you have heard the saying “Jack of all trades, master of none”. This definitely applies in this comparison.
Nike is a well-known athletic brand, with sponsorships in nearly every sport and products designed for every athlete or fashionista.
Brooks Running Company, on the other hand,—or foot, if you’re in the mood for puns—makes apparel and shoes exclusively for running.
The singular focus of the Brooks Running Company has helped them dominate the market for running shoes and apparel.
By limiting their target market, they have been able to dedicate a significant amount of research into developing products that runners want and need.
Having A Pulse on the Community
Comparing Nike and Brooks running shoes, you may notice that for average shoes, Brook and Nike are similarly priced. Nike, however, offers a bigger range of shoe prices, some of which are more than double the cost of Brooks running shoes.
But does that higher price mean better quality?
Runners don’t seem to think so. Brooks running shoes are consistently rated as favorites by runners, joggers, and walkers at every level.
Some even suspect that Nike does not have a real need to create innovative products because they have such widespread brand recognition.
This brand recognition allows them to create “good enough” products, at varied price points, and still have a dedicated customer base.
Also, because they have their hands--and feet, to keep the puns flowing--in every corner of the athletic market, they are not relying solely on the enthusiasm of runners to keep their company thriving.
These facts lead us to believe that Brooks Running Company who makes Brooks shoes and apparel, is actually listening to the running community and responding to every running trend, demand, and desire.
Other people think that because Nike is such a large company, they have more resources to encourage innovation, research, development, and testing to make their products the best.
Shoes Durability - How Long It Will Last?
So, what comes with the expense of running shoes?
You may be wondering how long they’ll last, if they run true to size, if they stretch with use, or if they’re as good as people say they are.
The short answer?
Brooks shoes are awesome. Nike shoes are awesome.
They are highly-rated, reviewed, and recommended in the running community for a reason. They are high-quality shoes, designed to last and outperform the competitors.
The long answer? Every runner has different needs and preferences, so generalizations about shoe performance will not be accurate for everyone.
There are people who are fiercely dedicated to Nike running shoes and would never buy anything else. There are people who are so obsessed with Brooks running shoes (like myself) that they would never buy anything else.
Shoe Comfort - Injury Prevention
Whether you choose to go with Brooks or Nike, replacing your running shoes regularly is important to your health and injury prevention.
For standard performance running shoes, you’ll likely replace your shoes every 300-500 miles. Lightweight, minimal shoes don’t last as long, at only 250-300 miles per pair. This is similar for Asics too.
These estimates depend greatly on your running style, running terrain, frequency, your weight, run duration, your pace, your climate…so many factors can impact the lifespan of your running shoes. I ended up getting a little over 500 miles with my Brooks Ghost.
Your shoes, and your body will give you clues to when your running shoes need to be replaced. You can look for visible signs of wear on the soles and insoles.
You can pay attention to the way your foot fits into the shoe or the level of the cushion you feel when you run. All of these things can help you decide when it’s time for a new pair of shoes.
Switching your shoes out before your runs give each pair a chance to recover, decompress, and dry out in between workouts and delays the breakdown of your running shoes.
Whenever you are making a running shoe purchase, it is important to check the return policy. Most people won’t know if they love their new shoes or not until they have taken them out for several runs.
If it is your first time buying a specific brand of running shoes, it can be helpful to find a retailer for a proper fitting.
If you are accustomed to a brand, it is likely that you will already know which size is best for you because you’ve run in that brand before.
In most running brands, it is recommended that you wear your running shoes ½ - 1 size larger than your standard shoes.
During a run, your feet will likely swell, so the extra space can be helpful for long runs. The extra room in your shoe can also help prevent toenail injury and blisters.
Finding The Right Fit
Most people find that once they have found their preferred brand of running shoe, they stick with it, and that the sizing is the same across that brand.
So, if you find a pair of Nike running shoes you love, remember the size and style so you can get the same shoe for your next pair. If you find a pair of Brooks running shoes you love, the same applies.
If you wear an 8 in one pair of Brooks running shoes, you’ll likely wear an 8 in other styles of Brooks running shoes. Same thing for Nike – once you know your running shoe size, it should carry across other Nike running shoes.
Take the Nike Pegasus, if you fit in the newest version, you should fit in any version.
Shoe innovation happens rapidly these days. As soon as you fall in love with a pair of running shoes, the company will release the new, updated, technologically- and scientifically-improved version of the same pair of shoes. A perfect example of this is the evolution of
Don’t fret; most people find that they can easily transition from Brooks Adrenaline 16, 17, or 18 to Brooks Adrenaline 19 when it’s time for a replacement. Nike also updates their shoes, usually denoting the style, followed by the year.
So, if you find yourself in love with a specific style of shoe, don’t be dismayed when the numbers at the end of the style transition. Usually, runners transition easily to the newest model of their favorite running shoe style.
Conclusion: Brooks vs Nike
As you can see, both Nike and Brooks offer an amazing, high-quality selection of running shoes. Both companies have dedicated brand enthusiasts, rave customer reviews and oodles of scientific research, innovation, and technology behind their products.
I believe that the singular focus of Brooks Running Company on creating exclusively running shoes and apparel makes their products better for runners.
Others believe that the name recognition and bigger size of Nike products allow them the funds to innovate their products at a higher rate. Our best advice? Give them a try and see what you think.