ChatGPT is one of the biggest sensations in tech. It’s a generative AI product that’s not perfect but can help you in a variety of interesting ways. You can go to ChatGPT for anything you might be looking to do online. And that’s why I decided to use ChatGPT to help me buy new running shoes. After the experience, I think that’s the only way I’ll search online from now on when I have questions about buying new products.
The pandemic exacerbated my exercise laziness, giving me the perfect excuse to stop working out. That’s especially true when it comes to running. Why go out where it wasn’t safe when I have the internet at home? And there’s Netflix and other streaming services with plenty of exciting titles. A look at my bio is enough to drive that point home.
Another side-effect of the pandemic was that I ate healthier than ever before. Home-cooked meals largely replaced takeout and unhealthy foods I would have burned away while running. So I actually lost weight during the pandemic, which gave me another reason to skip workouts.
Still, I got back to regular exercise and running soon after the vaccines came out, discovering I still could run a 5K with relative ease. But I found that my body would no longer recover as fast as it used to. Lack of training and aging meant that getting back into the rhythm would take a while.
Fast-forward to spring 2023, and I’m running and walking more than ever. But I’m also experiencing pain in my feet. I want to get back to running semi-marathons, and I want to improve my pace. A key part of all of that is having the right shoes.
I could spend hours researching all of that via traditional Google Search queries. Or, I could just ask ChatGPT.
But I don’t trust ChatGPT…
As we all know, ChatGPT can give misleading or false results. That’s why I don’t trust the chatbot and why I always ask for references during my chats. I did the same thing during my conversation about running shoes.
I asked for a top 5 list from the chatbot that would include information like the lowest price, a store link, a YouTube review, and a link to photos of the product.
Another thing you should know about ChatGPT is that its knowledge is limited to late 2021. The free ChatGPT is not connected live to the internet. So how could ChatGPT give me accurate information about the best running shoes in 2023 when it doesn’t see them?
Well, the good news is that ChatGPT’s answers are still useful. I could try to buy one of the 2021 models that the bot recommended for an even better bargain than the 2021 list price. Or I could just get the newest version of the sneakers it recommended. That’s because there’s almost always a new model of the running shoe you’re looking for.
Why ChatGPT is more useful than Google Search
I could have asked Google to give me the top 5 running shoes for 2023, and Google would have delivered.
But my search was more complicated than that. I had several conditions. Remember the foot pain? I wanted ChatGPT to give me recommendations for conditions like plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendonitis.
As you can see above, my question was very simple. I was looking for options that would give me great support for plantar fasciitis. It took a few seconds, and I had the results. Naturally, I wondered where the results came from, so I asked ChatGPT:
The truth is I wasn’t happy that the first list did not include the models I had on my list before my chat. So I asked ChatGPT to give me additional results for that specific brand I wanted. Sure enough, ChatGPT complied.
I then realized I could complicate my question. I also want to run faster while still being comfortable and reducing injury risk:
After reviewing some of the regenerated recommendations and browsing YouTube for hands-on experiences from other runners, I realized I have another potential problem my running shoes should help with: Overpronation.
So, naturally, I went back to the chat:
The list I ended up with covered three parameters: comfort for plantar fasciitis, personal best improvement, and overpronation.
Now that I was starting to get excited, I went for a similar request, this time addressing Achilles tendonitis. Sure enough, ChatGPT complied:
Did I buy any running shoes that ChatGPT recommended?
So what did I do with all that information? I spent hours watching YouTube clips that explained some of the newest innovations in running shoe tech. I started with the videos ChatGPT recommended, going down the rabbit hole from clip to clip to answer my curiosities.
And then, I purchased my first new running shoes following the conversation with ChatGPT.
Did I get one of the top recommendations? Well, no, I didn’t.
Remember that I don’t trust ChatGPT and that the information it provided was accurate as of late 2021. After all the YouTube reviews, I got a pair of running shoes from the company that didn’t appear in the initial top 5 list. And it wasn’t the 2021 model but the 2023 variant.
After a few runs, I can say they’re indeed comfortable, and they seem to add a little spring to my step. It might be a placebo, of course.
I’ll also say that I have that ChatGPT convo about running shoes saved. Even if that means the data will reach OpenAI’s servers. And that’s the fourth thing you should know about the chatbot. It records and remembers everything. Keeping that chat history means your chats can’t be private.
I can always return to that chat to inspect some of the other models. And the best part about chat history is that ChatGPT already has the context and knows how to answer follow-up questions.
I’ll never go back to simple Google Search
I will add that an upgrade to GPT-4 via ChatGPT Plus would also give me access to live internet via Bing Search. And I’ll definitely run the same prompts with OpenAI’s chatbot with live internet access in the future.
For now, I couldn’t be happier with what ChatGPT did for me. Rather than postponing the running shoe research because I knew it would be long and tedious, I had ChatGPT do all the hard work for me.
I ended up researching only a few specific sneakers, discovering a few choices I wouldn’t have considered before. And I found a few YouTube channels I’ll keep an eye on for further running shoe recommendations.
Whether it’s ChatGPT, Bing Chat, or a variant of Google Bard, I know for certain I’m not going to use regular Google Search for shopping. Especially when I have multiple requirements for a new product.