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The Care and Feeding of Running Shoes: How To Make Them Last Longer

Let’s face it: Running shoes are expensive.

Like just about every consumer product, running shoes have become more and more expensive. Running shoes have certainly become a lot better too, but almost all of today’s running shoes from reputable manufacturers now cost between $100-160.

You can pay less and you can pay more, but the sweet spot for the best shoes is in the $120-130 range. And like any smart runner, you want your shoes to last as long as possible.

Here are the most common Q&As to help you understand running shoe durability and perhaps get a few more miles out of a pair:

Q: What can I do to extend the life of my running shoes?

A: Take good care of them just like any other piece of valuable equipment. (Duh.) Don’t store shoes in winter in cold areas (like an unheated garage or porch) or in direct sunlight during the summer or in the trunk of your car. It’s also not a good idea to wear running shoes for court sports such as tennis, racquetball or basketball. Wearing them for soccer, baseball or football is also not recommended.


Q: Anything else?

A: After running in wet weather, thoroughly dry your running shoes (remove the insoles and allow them to dry separately) by placing them near a heat source. Never dry running shoes in a clothes dryer. After removing the insole, you can use a hair dryer for quick drying


Q: Is the shoe’s weight a factor in durability?

A: Definitely. Generally, a very light shoe (less than eight ounces) is less durable than a heavier shoe. That’s one reason racing shoes and lightweight performance trainers are not nearly as durable as training shoes. A heavier shoe has a thicker, more durable midsole and outsole.


Q: Will my shoes last longer if I alternate between two pair?

A: Not really. Running shoes don’t need rest days. Shoes are made of foam and rubber and its cushioning elements rebound as quickly as it has been compressed. That is, if yo go for a one-hour run, the shoe will be fully recovered in about an hour after running it. Daily use doesn’t affect a shoe’s durability – total mileage does. One exception: if you run twice a day, alternating between two pair of shoes is a good idea.


Q: I got more than 500 miles out of one pair of shoes but only 375 out of a different model. Why?

A: Different shoes are made from different materials. Some running shoes are more durable than others because they are simply made of more durable materials.


Q: Are there other factors to consider?

A: All the other factors are related to your individual running attributes and habits. If you’re a big runner who trains primarily on roads, your shoe’s midsoles and outsoles won’t last as long as those of a lighter runner using the same shoe. Similarly, the more you overpronate (your feet roll too far inward upon impact), the more stress you put on the midsole and upper, and the quicker the shoes will break down.


Q: What about treadmill running?

A: Treadmill running still involves impact so even though running on a treadmill won’t wear shoes out as quickly as running on a hard surface, the shoes will eventually still wear out.


Q: How many miles can I expect out of a good pair of running shoes?

A: For the reasons mentioned above, it’s impossible to provide an exact mileage guide for every shoe for every runner. There are simply too many variables due to the different running styles, surfaces – and different models of shoes.


Q: How do I know when it’s time to buy a new pair?

A: It’s difficult to be precise, but it’s much better to replace a shoe a bit early rather than too late. Still, there are things you can do to determine if it’s time to get another pair: (1) stick your finger into the midsole (the light colored material; the cushioning element) to see if it feels brittle or compressed; (2) place your shoes on a table and check them for imbalances, such as worn areas or tilting to one side or the other; (3) listen to your aches and pains–they often mean it’s time for a new pair of shoes. You can also take your worn shoes to a reputable running store to have someone there take a look at them to see if they need replacing.

Finally, it’s important to understand that midsoles usually deteriorate before outsoles (the black material on the bottom of the shoe) do. Don’t stick with a pair of shoes just because the outsoles seem fine. If the midsoles are shot and have lost their cushioning, it’s time for new shoes.


Q: What else can I do to determine when it’s time to get a new pair?

A: Mileage isn’t everything, but some runners use their training logs to track how many miles they run in each pair of shoes they own. Not a bad idea. Other runners write the date of purchase somewhere on the tongue of the shoe. If you know what your weekly mileage approximately is, it’s easy to figure out that after several months, it’s time to start thinking about a new pair.


Q: How many miles can I reasonably expect out of my running shoes?

A: Okay, you know we don’t want to answer that question too definitively because there are so many variables involved. But, if pushed, we’ll say you should get at least 350-400 miles from a solid training shoe, and you can reasonably expect another 100 miles or so. You’ll probably get fewer from a lightweight trainer and far fewer from racing shoes. Some runners, particularly those who have efficient running form, get as much as 700 to 800 miles from their training shoes.

2017-10-19T00:44:26-05:00 Categories: Gear, Running Shoes, Training|Tags: , , , , |