It’s the fall which, for runners, means one thing: marathon season.
All across the world runners are pulling on their shoes and racing some of the most famous city courses in the world: Berlin, Chicago, New York…the list goes on.
As the millions of spectators who line these famous routes take in the sights and sounds of the hundreds of thousands of runners who make these races the center of their autumnal campaigns, it’s hard to avoid glancing or even staring at the one thing that almost all of the runners have in common.
No, not the courage to start the race, the hunger for a personal best, or a commitment to driving forward to the finish. Those are the sorts of things that cannot be seen, only recognized on the faces of those who run past.
It’s something more basic than this: shoes.
Almost every marathon runner goes through the process of pulling on a pair of running shoes, tugging the laces tight, and toeing the start line ahead of those long 26.2 miles.
And almost every brand of shoes that can be seen across those miles has an Instagram account for spectators and runners alike to drool over post-race.
Sports Footwear: Form As Well As Function
Sports footwear certainly serves a functional purpose. Good shoes protect the runner’s feet, provide cushioning from the hard asphalt surfaces of the city, and ensure that the runner can walk the day after their race instead of hobbling around the office, broken and beaten down by the course.
But there is also a form factor at play, too.
Sports footwear doesn’t just have to work well to be popular, it also needs to look good. Even great. And when you have a product that looks great there is perhaps no better place to promote it to the masses than on social media, specifically Instagram.
We’ve taken a look at some of the top sports footwear brands on Instagram and highlighted the nine that we think best demonstrate how to use this platform effectively.
Followers: 24.7 million
What We Love: For a brand worth in excess of $80 billion the Oregon powerhouse still manages to have some fun. Sure, there’s plenty of action shots of sports superstars and the Average Joe, too. But then there are the shots that surprise, like the one above with its unique and literal take on the famous Nike waffle sole.
Followers: 1.4 million
What We Love: Usain Bolt. And that smile. When you sponsor one of the biggest names in world sports it makes sense to feature him on your Instagram account. So, too, the sports teams that find their feet in Puma shoes, cleats, and boots. Puma demonstrates how to balance the footwear and the famous who use them.
Followers: 5.8 million
What We Love: Adidas balances the sports, fashion, and sponsored athletes and celebrities who promote their products on their Instagram account, perhaps better than anyone else. They mix color and form, action shots and behind the scenes glimpses, competition compositions and fashion shoots with efficacy and class.
Followers: 145 thousand
What We Love: Brooks are a serious running brand and it is no surprise to see many action and competition shots in their Instagram repertoire. Yet for all the pros and amateurs they highlight there are some great artistic shots, too. Take the image above: any doubt that Brooks shoes belong on and are inspired by the trail?
Followers: 466 thousand
What We Love: Reebok sponsors athletes from around the world but much of their Instagram feed is made up of regular folks working out, running, diving through mud, and exploring the world in Reebok shoes. Like the image above – a Mother’s Day special – embracing the everyman and everywoman works wonders on social.
Followers: 1.2 million
What We Love: If there’s a word to describe how New Balance separates itself from the other footwear brands on our list it’s ‘art’. Somehow the serious running shoe brand and Boston Marathon favorite has built an Instagram feed that is all about the beauty of the shoe. Take the image above, for example: intriguing, no?
Followers: 25 thousand
What We Love: The French trail running shoe company has a cult following and their Instagram feed reflects that. Lots of stunning exterior shots, competition shots, and a touch of the artistic, too. Hoka One One highlight the trails their shoes are made for not the urban landscape you long to leave when you pull them on.
Followers: 2.7 million
What We Love: Converse embraces the rebellious feel of its signature Chuck Taylor All Stars and depicts the shoes everywhere you might expect. In the city, in the wild, on the feet of a lead singer or the pigeon-toed pose of a teenage girl. Wear them anywhere, be yourself, and define yourself by what you do. Perfect.
Followers: 25 thousand
What We Love: The Asics Instagram feed is all about movement. Whether cityscapes or forest runs, rugby or running, climbing the stairs, crossing the street, or summiting a climb, Asics highlights the movement. Even in shots where the shoes don’t move (see the shot above) there’s the impression that travel is never far away.