Any running enthusiast knows the name ‘George Etzweiler.’ He’s made the news many times over the years, as he has a habit of setting a record in nearly every race he runs. The records, though, aren’t for speed – they’re for age.
George Etzweiler is 97 years old, and still running, and still in good health.
Clearly, running is tremendously good for you, and we highly recommend it. There are dozens of reasons to run for your health, but one of the finest reasons has to do with your pocketbook rather than your heart and lungs.
Running is cheap. Once you buy the shoes, you’re pretty much good to go. Given that running shoes can make or break your exercise routine, it’s little wonder that they’re complex, highly engineered, and often expensive.
Today, we’re going to focus on just one pair – the Asics GT 2000 series.
Asics has been stitching shoes for over 40 years, and they’re good at what they do. People stick with them because they expect the best. The company’s earned itself a loyal following in the way that only a company committed to quality and rigor can do.
That loyal following, in fact, is one reason we were a little disappointed. The GT 2000 had far too many reports of breakdown and low durability for a shoe that cost anywhere from $60 to $110.
Price, to be clear, isn’t the problem – any good running shoe will set you back an average of $100. It’s designed to keep your feet and joints healthy through hundreds of thousands of impacts. That kind of engineering isn’t cheap. It also shouldn’t fall apart very easily – hence, our disappointment.
To be clear, we weren’t the only ones. A careful analysis of dozens of online reviews, stress tests, and engineering specs led to a couple of very specific thoughts on the GT 2000 – great for pain, and not great for running.
Whether you try a pair will depend highly on what your feet require.
Feet are Different – Why Trust a Review?
Before we begin an analysis of the shoe’s pros and cons, let’s be clear – one single complaint about a product isn’t nearly enough to make us reject it, and one glowing review isn’t enough to make us buy it.
Our conclusions are based on both personal experience and a tally of dozens, and sometimes hundreds, of reviews and testimonials. The only complaints, praises, and problems listed below are things that reappeared several dozen times from several hundred different runners across the United States. We’re confident in our assessment.
In a nutshell, that assessment is this: the Asics GT 2000 isn’t for everyone, and should probably be avoided by the long-distance runner. Those with foot, knee, and leg pain, however, should consider it.
Let’s flesh out the details a little bit.
Pro and Con: Why the GT 2000, and Why Not?
From a design standpoint, running shoes are quite complex. They’re meant to protect your skin, muscles, and joints from hundreds of tiny, repetitive impacts, all without giving you the slightest discomfort.
This kind of engineering success isn’t easy, and shoe manufacturers have hyper-specific names and measurements for every portion of your feet, all to make the best shoe possible. If you know your shoe parts, you’ll know whether or not the GT 2000 is worth your testing time.
We say ‘testing time’ because there’s one basic rule of buying running shoes that you should always follow, and it’s important enough to be mentioned here, first and foremost:
Always Try the Shoes On First
Every foot is unique, and no one shoe, unless it’s tailored, is going to fit your needs perfectly. You won’t know how good a pair is until you’ve tried them on.
You’re going to be spending several thousand footsteps in these, so make sure you’ve worn them, and tested them, first. After all, your own personal review is the only one that really matters.
Asics GT 2000: Good and Bad
Let’s break it down.
The Asics GT 2000 received praise for its comfort and support among those with foot problems. It received criticism among those who routinely logged long running hours, and that criticism centered around one main complaint – the shoes broke down too early, and too often.
Whether or not the shoe is for you depends, frankly, on which part of your foot you’re worried about. We’ll begin with the good stuff.
GT 2000: Everything Good
The best part of this shoe is where the rubber meets the road.
1. It’s All About Sole
The short version is this: if you have plantar fasciitis, knee pain, leg pain, or an awkward stride, you’ll probably love the GT 2000.
The Asics GT 2000 use an old Asics favorite – Asics Gel, a patented cushion that uses simple science to keep your feet as limber as possible.
Every step taken slowly wears down your energy and joints. The more the impact of each step is cushioned, the longer you can run, and the more you spread out that impact across your foot, the weaker the impact overall. The best way to spread the force of an impact is with liquid.
Asics soles are filled with several gel packets that spread the impact of each step across your foot. That sole, combined with better insole designs, has given the company a small following of people who swear by the corrective powers of its shoes.
We need to be clear – Asics makes no claim to any magical foot-healing powers, and there’s no guarantee the GT 2000 will work for you. You’ll need to test it first.
However, enough people have testified that we’re confident it’s not a fluke. Consider the GT 2000 series if you have problems with any one of the following:
If you’ve ever woken up with a sharp pain in your heels, you know what this is. Plantar fasciitis is the medical term for inflammation of a band of connective tissue, one that runs from your heel to the ball of your foot. It’s common in those over 40, more common in runners, and hard to fix without corrective footwear.
There’s no cure-all for plantar fasciitis, but those that swear by the GT 2000 series expressed instant relief. The shoe’s support structure took pressure off the inflamed area immediately, and pain disappeared.
We can’t guarantee it will happen every time, but if the pain is severe every morning, these might be the shoes for you.
Any decent running shoe should support fallen arches. The GT 2000 series does it so well that several runners noticed it as they ran.
The shoe’s design corrected their stride, which is no small thing – a stride that leans even a little too much inward will contribute to flat feet, wear out the shoe faster, and wear out your feet faster. For many, wearing the GT 2000 was like wearing a corrective brace, but without the brace itself.
Technically speaking, this is really just an extension of the section above, as bad posture and stride can lead to leg pain, and correcting it can fix the pain. We mention it here because not everyone realizes that their leg pain might be related to poor foot posture.
There are no guarantees when it comes to pain, but if the solution is as simple as a new pair of shoes, the GT 2000 series might be your greatest investment.
If you’re getting Asics for foot, ankle, or knee pain, you’re probably wearing them casually, which makes our second ‘pro’ quite relevant.
2. They Look Great
It’s a little silly to worry about how the shoes look, rather than whether or not they’ll last or feel comfortable. Still, the look of the GT 2000 was pretty universally praised, and since we can’t pick and choose what people say, we’ve included it in the pros list.
Besides, no one wants to wear an ugly shoe.
GT 2000: Everything Bad
If you want to divvy up the praises and complaints for the GT 2000 series, you need only draw a line between the top and the bottom half of the shoe. The sole is comfortable, corrective, and durable. The top falls apart quickly, sometimes within just a few weeks, and is often too small.
These weren’t the experiences of every customer, but there were more than enough complaints about the very same set of problems to justify mentioning it. The Asics GT 2000 series, for whatever reason, routinely developed holes in the top of the shoe, didn’t fit properly, and occasionally rubbed the tops of feet raw.
The first complaint had far more hits than all the others, so we’ll begin there.
3. The Top is Poorly Constructed
We’re not exactly sure what happened to the GT 2000 series – whether the company changed manufacturing techniques, or used inferior supplies, or whether a long series of customers just got really unlucky. Whatever the reason, though, a lot of people complained about the same exact thing – the top of the Asics GT 2000 wore out in a very short time.
The top is mesh, and by ‘wear out,’ we mean it started developing holes. Most of them began as slight tears in the mesh, either right atop the toes or along the stitching. They start appearing in as little as four to five weeks – far, far too soon for a shoe that’s often priced at over $100.
Understand, too, that most of these complaints were coming from loyal Asics customers. The average complaint was from a runner, and a longtime Asics user – someone who, in short, wouldn’t make rookie mistakes when ordering running shoes. These customers knew their shoe sizes, had ordered running shoes many a time before, and had never had this problem with Asics before.
Not every runner or marathoner reported a problem with top durability, but the ratio of complaints to praises was nearly half. That’s far too big to be coincidental.
Our advice? If you’re getting the GT 2000 for running, and not for correcting foot pain, then don’t – stick with a different model Asics brand, or switch brands entirely.
4. They’re Too Tight
A better title for this section would be ‘the GT 2000 series fits much tighter than it used to.’
We say ‘used to’ because there were complaints on nearly every set of reviews we read about longtime Asics customers having to order their GT 2000s a half-size larger than their normal shoe size.
In fact, ‘order these shoes a half-size larger than your normal shoe size’ was the biggest piece of advice runners were giving to each other. It was a universal problem, from size 6 to size 10. These complaints, coupled with the more general complaints of newcomers to Asics (‘these shoes are too tight’), were the second most discussed problem with the GT 2000s, right behind tears in the top of the mesh.
5. They’re Not Easy to Return
This criticism isn’t so much about the shoe as it is about Asics customer care. Again, it’s completely possible that the reviews and testimonials we read were simply the result of a few people getting unlucky. All those unlucky people did complain about the same thing, however – returning the Asics GT 2000 was extremely difficult once the shoe started breaking down.
Why Buy Asics at All?
Normally, bad construction, narrow fit, and poor customer service would discourage us from even trying Asics at all.
The company, however, has hit enough home runs in its time to be worth your consideration. After all, a patented gel support sole that provides pain relief for many isn’t something to sneer at – even if it is merged with bad top construction.
Our recommendation is simple: if you need shoes for casual use that will help with physical pain, consider the GT 2000 series. If your feet are healthy, and you need new running shoes, try any other Asics series, but not this one.
Above all, make sure you try them out yourself first.