Run Long: Pro Tips to Extend the Life of Your Running Shoes

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Running Gear & Apparel
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David Dack

Are you wondering how to extend the life of your running shoes? Well, you’re in the perfect spot to find out.

If you’re an avid runner, you’ll quickly realize that running shoes aren’t invincible. They age, just like everything else.

In the running community, it’s generally agreed that a good pair of running shoes should last between 400 to 500 miles. Hard to picture? Think of it this way: for an average runner, that’s about six months of hitting the pavement or the trails.

But once your shoes hit that mileage mark, they start losing their mojo, potentially increasing your risk of injury. And trust me, running in shoes that are past their prime is like driving a car with bald tires – not a great idea.

But here’s the good news: with a bit of TLC, you can significantly extend the lifespan of your running shoes.

Today, I’m going to share some tips and tricks to help you do just that. I’ll explain why shoe care is so important, how it can breathe new life into your trusty trainers, and ultimately, how it can elevate your running experience.

Sounds like a good idea?

Let’s get started.

Get the Right Shoes

Let’s face it: when it comes to running, your shoes are more than just a fashion statement – they’re the backbone of your entire experience. The right pair of running shoes is like a trusty sidekick, offering cushioning, support, and even helping to prevent injuries.

So, how do you pick the perfect pair? Here’s a secret – it’s all about comfort. Sure, flashy brands and the latest trends can be tempting, but nothing beats how a shoe feels on your foot. I always say, “Choose comfort over trends,” and it’s a mantra that has never steered me wrong.

Don’t just take my word for it, though. A study from the British Journal of Sports Medicine backs this up, highlighting the importance of comfort in selecting the right running shoe. It’s reassuring to know that science agrees with what many runners have learned through trial and error.

But wait, there’s more. Your feet are as unique as your fingerprints, and the same goes for running shoes.

You need a pair that matches the shape and mechanics of your foot. If a shoe feels like it’s altering the way you walk or run, trust your instincts – it’s probably not the right fit for you.

Choosing the right shoes is a topic beyond today’s post. For more guidelines and tips, check the following posts:

  • Post 1
  • Post 2
  • Post 3
  • Post 4
  • Post 5
  • Post 6
  • Post 7

Use Your Running Shoes For Running Only

Remember, running shoes are designed specifically for running. It might seem obvious, but it’s a point worth emphasizing. When you use your running shoes for other activities – like grocery shopping or Zumba – you’re not only wearing them out faster, but you’re also diminishing their primary function.

Think of it this way: your running shoes have a mileage limit, around 400 to 500 miles. Every non-running step counts against this mileage, gradually wearing down your trusty shoes. It’s like having a dedicated dance partner who you bring to a football match – not quite the right fit, right? So, let’s keep our running shoes loyal to running. They’ll last longer and perform better that way.

Storing Your Shoes

Storing Your Running Shoes

Running shoes aren’t a big fan of extreme temperatures or the elements. Storing them in your shoebox after a run, leaving them in the scorching car trunk during a summer heatwave, or letting them chill outside in freezing weather – those are all fast tracks to shoe breakdown. And that’s not our goal here.

Here’s how to store them to prevent damage:

·       Cool and Dry: Store your shoes in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight and heat sources. Excessive heat can cause the materials to break down.

·       Elevated Space: Keep your shoes on a shelf or rack to prevent them from coming into contact with the ground. This reduces the risk of dust, dirt, and moisture accumulation.

·       Ventilation: Choose a well-ventilated area for storage to allow air to circulate around the shoes. This helps prevent odors and mold growth.

·       Avoid Compression: Don’t stack heavy objects on top of your shoes, as this can deform them over time.

Here are more tips on how to make your running shoes last longer.

Rorate Your Running Shoes

Did you know that switching up your running shoes might just be the secret weapon to keeping injuries at bay?

Switching up your running shoes can work wonders for preventing injuries.

A study from the British Journal of Sports Medicine throws in a surprising fact: runners who alternated between different shoe models over six months were 40% less likely to get hurt than those who stuck to one pair. It’s a compelling reason to diversify your shoe collection for a safer running experience.

Imagine you’re prepping for a big race and clocking in lots of miles. In such cases, consider rotating between two or more pairs of shoes. This isn’t just for the aesthetics of your shoe rack but about choosing the right shoe for each run. You wouldn’t wear shoes designed for sprints in a marathon, would you?

Additional resource – Guide to running lingo

Wash Your Running Shoes

It’s an undeniable fact: running shoes need a bath every now and then. But here’s a little secret: your running shoes aren’t fond of washing machines.

Instead of tossing them in with the laundry, get that dirt off by giving them a good wipe down with a shoe brush or a dry cloth after each run.

Cleaning your shoes regularly helps achieve the following:

·       Extended Lifespan: Removing dirt and debris prevents premature wear and tear, helping your shoes last longer.

·       Optimal Performance: Clean shoes maintain their original cushioning, support, and traction, ensuring you get the performance you paid for.

·       Hygiene: Keeping your shoes clean reduces the buildup of bacteria and fungi that can cause odors and foot issues.

Here’s a quick guide:

  • Go manual: Hand washing is the way to go. Tossing them into the machine can damage the structural integrity of your shoes.
  • The Right Cleaning Tools: Grab an old toothbrush or a nail brush. Pair it with a mild soap (anti-grease ones work wonders). A touch of water will help remove the stubborn stains, dirt, and those pesky mud spots.
  • No to the Dryer: The dryer’s heat can warp your shoes or affect their fit. Instead, let them bask in the sunlight and dry naturally.

Take them Off Properly

Taking off your running shoes properly is just as important as how you wear them. After a long run, it’s tempting to kick them off without a second thought, but that’s a shortcut to damaging them. Rough handling can stretch out the laces and distort the shape of the heel collar.

Here’s a more shoe-friendly way to take them off:

  • Always start by untangling and loosening your shoelaces. Yanking your shoes off with the laces still tied puts unnecessary stress on them, leading to wear and tear.
  • Consider using a shoehorn if you find it tough to slide your shoes on and off. This little tool helps maintain the shape of the heel and prevents damage.
  • And remember, stepping on one heel to remove the other shoe is a big no-no. It might seem convenient, but it can deform the heel counter, that critical part that gives your shoe its structure around the heel.

By treating your shoes with a bit of care and respect when taking them off, you’re not just maintaining their shape; you’re extending their life and ensuring they’re ready to go for your next run.

Replace Your Running Shoes

Every runner faces the inevitable moment when it’s time to say goodbye to their trusty running shoes. It’s a bittersweet farewell, dictated not by time but by miles.

The tricky part? There’s no universal rule for when to retire your shoes. Several factors influence their lifespan, including:

  • Running Terrain: Different terrains, like a smooth track or a rugged trail, wear down shoes at different rates.
  • Your Weight: The more weight the shoes bear, the quicker they may wear out.
  • Weekly Mileage: High mileage can significantly shorten a shoe’s life.
  • Training Intensity: Intense sprint sessions affect shoes differently than leisurely jogs.
  • Running Biomechanics: Each runner’s unique foot strike and gait pattern can alter how and where a shoe wears down.
  • Climate: Environmental factors like rain, snow, and heat also play a role in a shoe’s durability.

Although there’s no exact number, most running shoes tend to hit their stride between 500 and 600 miles. Pushing them beyond this point can lead to a less-than-ideal running experience and potentially increase injury risk.

Ignoring the recommended mileage limit can have several consequences:

  • Increased Risk of Injury: Worn cushioning means more impact on your feet and joints, potentially leading to issues like shin splints, stress fractures, or knee pain.
  • Reduced Performance: As shoes wear out, they can affect your running efficiency, impacting speed and endurance.
  • Unpredictable Traction: A worn outsole may offer less grip, increasing the risk of slips, especially on wet or uneven ground.
  • Discomfort: Breaking down materials can lead to uncomfortable runs, causing blisters or hot spots.

To keep track of your shoe mileage, consider using an app like MapMyRun. It’s a handy way to monitor how far each pair has traveled. If you’re more old-school, jotting down mileage in a notebook or keeping a simple Excel sheet works just as well. The key is to stay aware and proactive about your shoes’ condition.

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