Is It Time For New Running Shoes?
When is the right time to replace your running shoes? The advice can be conflicting but there are a few key things to consider to help determine their lifespan.
- Where you run; on the road, trail, track, inside or a mix, is one of the biggest factors that will determine how long your pair of running shoes lasts. Most running shoes tell you what the ideal terrain for that pair is, and for those that don’t, road running is usually standard. In reality, most runners have some cross over with where they run – even the city has rocky and dirt-covered parks that vary the kind of environment the sole of your shoes are exposed to. The main thing is making sure that the majority of runs you do match the terrain the shoe was made for, or else that shoe may not be the best choice for a long life of use.
- The kind of foot strike you have also plays in to the life of a running shoe. If you are unsure of your impact zone when you run, take a look at the bottom of a well-used pair of your running shoes and see what part has the most wear: front, middle or heel. Knowing this arms you with more information when it comes to looking for a better suited running shoe, and choosing one built to sustain your style.
- Forefoot striker: the most common kind of foot strike for sprinters and hill runners, your shoe often wear under the big toe or off to the outside/side of the shoe’s front. Often the outer-sole becomes broken through to expose the midsole or in extreme cases, the sock and foot.
- Midfoot: the area under the ball of the foot (middle of the foot) that wears through in much the same way as the forefoot.
- Heel striker: common run style for longer distance road runners. Unfortunately, statistics show you are most often in need of replacing your running shoes compared to the other two types. Although the rest of the shoe may look pristine, if the heel of the shoe is worn down excessively the foot and ankle may be compromised providing a gradual decrease of support, which can lead to injury before you know it.
- From those factors that affect the shoe from the bottom up, to the main one affecting it from above: you. Who you are: your weight and height especially, plays a key role in knowing how long a good pair of running shoes should last. Most running shoes take in to account the “average” runner for their shoes in terms of what data is available in their market. From this, a runner profile is created and shoes built to accommodate this type of average person. Being heavier than this profile means that often a shoe may wear down quickly, and being lighter might mean the shoes last far longer than average. The same can be said about taller vs shorter runners. If your build varies greatly from the “average” there are some shoes that may be best suited for you. Chief amongst these are the ones with increased support, as often these are reinforced and made to be more forgiving on certain kinds of wear. If unsure, the best thing to do is ask before you purchase if the shoe will work for your build to make sure that it lasts as long as possible.
There are some steps you can take to lengthen the lifespan of your shoes.
- Dry them after use – of course shoes get wet, both from the inside and out, however drying them soon after use can keep them in action for longer. Moisture often seeps in to the glues and material of shoes, weakening them over time, so keeping them dry makes them last longer.
- Rotate between two (or more) pairs of shoes – this allows for shoes to “recover” from you, and also helps you from being overly conditioned from the way one pair of shoes or another may have you running and changing your run-style over time.
- Undo the laces before sliding on and off – stepping and crumpling in to a pair of running shoes damages the structure of the shoe, especially the heel, over time. By undoing the laces and being seated when you put your shoes on, they remain strong and intact - unless of course they have speed laces made for you to slide in to.
- Wear the right socks – shoes are made to protect from the outside in, so make sure the quality and condition of your socks (if not running barefoot) matches those of the shoes themselves.