I'd also suggest you reconsider the assertion that cost is immaterial, especially if you start looking at higher-end kicks. That's because a runner like you really should be replacing shoes every six months regardless of how much you spent for them. The cushioning in shoes simply breaks down, and even though a shoe may look fine, at five or six months it's offering only a fraction of the cushioning it did when it was right out of the box.
So I recommend you look at quality mid-priced shoes, and commit yourself to replacing them at regular intervals. And, as a stable runner, you can look to a shoe with lots of cushioning (your knees will thank you in 15 years). Such a beast might be the Adidas a3 Cushion ($75; www.adidas.com), an excellent all-around training shoe that's light and has the dependable cushioning of an EVA midsole, plus Adidas' proprietary cushioning in the heel and forefoot.
New Balance shoes also are a reliable choice, and a can't-miss shoe is New Balance's 880 ($90; www.nbwebexpress.com). It's designed for runners like yourself with neutral foot motion and a desire for cushioning. It's also a good choice if you have slightly high-volume feet, as it's built on a last that's a little roomier than other New Balance shoes (the 833$85is for the smaller foot).
Lastly, check out Asics' aptly named Gel-Cumulus VII ($80; www.asicstiger.com). It's very breathable for warm-weather running, and has lots of cushioning for a smooth ride. Plus, Asics has always had a good handle on how to ensure that even soft shoes are stable, so this shoe won't let your feet develop bad habits.
So there you go. Buy two pairs of these reasonably priced shoes, give them a good workout, then retire them gracefully to save your joints. Trust me on this onefew things matter in running shoes more than ensuring they're still doing the job they're intended for: Reducing the shock of running on pavement.
Check out Outside's Gear of the Year winners in the 2005 Buyer's Guide , then get yourself a copy of the issue, on newsstands now!
Filed To: Road-Running Shoes