Breaking up is hard to do…
As runners, we all grow attached to our favourite running shoes. They’ve got us through some great training, some questionable pacing and maybe some fast racing. But is it time to say a fond farewell to those old friends?
Shoes, while protecting and caring for us fragile runners, bear the brunt of all the mileage we cover in them and, just like people, can get a bit crankier and less forgiving as they age.
Some of the tell-tale signs that the shoe cemetery is calling are obvious; some less so…
Track your mileage
To start with, it’s always worthwhile logging how many miles you cover in a pair of shoes. This can be done in true old-school style in a pen and paper training diary (my chosen obsession!), or can be monitored using all the bells and whistles of one of the vast array of apps, GPS watches and gadgets out there. The reason is simple.
Much depends on how and where you – as an individual – run, but in general terms, once you’ve done up to 400-500 miles in a pair of running shoes, it’s fairly likely that they’ll be approaching (or have reached) the point where they’re not looking after you as much as a caring friend should.
In fact, for some shoes, particularly those used on seriously rugged terrain, or of a more stripped-down construction, this tipping point may be even less.
Mind your midsole
And don’t necessarily use the amount of wear (or lack of) on the bottom of the sole of the shoes (the outsole) as the best indicator of how much life is left in your shoes…
Much more important in protecting you are the materials which cushion your every step. Keep an eye on the midsole material – the foam between the upper and the outsole – and look for excessive creasing or wrinkling. This can be a tell-tale sign of deterioration.
Think about it. Every time you strike the ground these materials compress and as you lift from the ground they try to return towards their original form and shape. Over time this ability to re-form diminishes. Finally, you end up with shoes with almost permanently-compressed cushioning and as little as a quarter of the amount of structure and cushioning which they had when you first slipped them on your feet and Cupid fired his arrow! The result on your body is, basically, more and more impact being transferred through your joints, ligaments and tendons on every step. Aching ankles, calves, shins, knees and hips… not ideal!
And to put it in context, if you cover 500 miles in a pair of shoes, for some runners that can be around 1 million steps! So half a million impacts on roads, rocky trails, hills, tracks or treadmills for each shoe! Perhaps more than you’d imagine? So make sure you’re being well cared for by your trusty friends on your feet!
If you’re unsure whether a neutral or stability shoe is right for you, pop to your nearest shop for our free +runlab 8 steps analysis process, in which we asses your feet and running style, on and off the treadmill, to determine the best running shoe for you.
Do the look, feel, smell test!
The old inhabitants of your shoe cupboard may have served you well, but some new inhabitants will 1) possibly smell a bit less 2) probably look a bit better and 3) definitely improve your run!