Let’s face it: Running shoes are not cheap. A good, high quality pair of running shoes from a reputable manufacturer will set you back at least $120. Nevertheless, it’s a good investment in terms of your health and fitness. But we can make that investment last longer by taking care of your shoes.
Simply stated, if you take good care of your running shoes, they’ll take good care of your feet. But if you abuse your shoes, chances are they will wear out prematurely and lose its cushioning and protective properties.
Depending how well you take care of your shoes, they should last for a few hundred miles of running. Although the exact mileage varies from runner to runner, the shoes that last the longest are also well-maintained and never abused.
Here are some common causes of shoe abuse and the corrective steps you can take:
1. I’m always in a rush and just like to kick off my kicks. But, it hurts my feet.
It hurts your shoes too. There’s a right way—and a wrong way to do something as simple as taking off your running shoes. Instead of kicking off or pulling your shoes off after a run when you’re in a hurry (this can lead to a misshapen heel), simply unlace the shoes and slip them off.
2. After running, my shoes often stink. What can I do to avoid this obnoxious odor?
Air them out. Remove the insoles and allow the shoes to dry in the fresh, open air.
Often, odor develops from the glue and other materials used to make running shoes. If your shoes stay continually damp from your sweat, the smell gets worse as bacteria grows. To counter these odors and to keep them from getting too stinky, air the shoes out after every run and/or sprinkle a little baking soda underneath the insoles.
Sometimes the odor you smell is a direct result of running without socks. Some runners don’t like to wear socks, but the problem with that is the sweat goes directly into the insoles of their shoes. Once that moisture builds up, the shoes develop an odor. Often, the smelliest part of the shoe is the insoles (or sock liner). If they are extremely smelly and airing them out doesn’t seem to help, buy an over-the-counter replacement pair.
3. My shoes get soaked all the time, either running in the rain or during the hot summer when my feet sweat so much. I don’t have a convenient place to air them out at work. Can I just place them in the clothes dryer when I get home?
Definitely not. Drying your running shoes in the clothes dryer is never advisable. Running shoes don’t survive well in such fast, hot drying conditions. The midsoles and outsoles are held together by glue which will be compromised by the heat of the dryer. The heat will also weaken the upper and cause it to crack and weaken.
If you can’t dry them outside in direct sunlight for an hour or so, dry your shoes in front of a fan. Or at least take them out of your gym bag or locker and dry them outside when you get home.
4. After all the recent rains, my shoes get filthy. Can I at least wash my filthy shoes in the washing machine?
Sorry, not a good idea either. The detergents used in washing machines are harmful to the glue in your shoes.
5. What’s the best way to clean them?
It’s very easy. Just clean your shoes by using a soft-bristled brush or an old toothbrush and wash away the dirt with a mild soap (an anti-grease soap works well) and water. Remove the insoles first. Then, brush away the filth. Or, just remove the insoles and hose the mud and dirt off. Make sure you clean out any clumps of mud that may be stuck in the outsole. After cleaning, allow the shoes to air dry.
6. Will an over-the-counter insole extend the cushioning of my running shoes?
Not really. If the insoles that come with your shoes get worn out or are exceptionally smelly, you can replace them with another pair of commercial insoles. But, those insoles won’t increase the cushioning of your shoe or even extend it if the midsole is already worn out. Once the cushioning is shot, you must get a new pair of shoes.
7. My running shoes are very comfortable. Can I also wear them for walking, basketball, soccer, volleyball, ultimate frisbee and tennis?
Sure you can. But doing so, will harm the shoes and shorten their running life. Even wearing your running shoes for casual walking will add miles to their wear and tear. Court sports are even worse for running shoes. Not only will wearing your running shoes for basketball or any other court sports, tear up your shoes, you’ll mark up the basketball, volleyball and tennis courts with the black outsoles of your running shoes which won’t make you very popular.
Running shoes are designed for straight ahead motion, not lateral sports. To play basketball or tennis, you need side-to-side support which running shoes don’t provide. For a sport which entails plenty of jumping such as volleyball, a shoe specific to volleyball is the best way to go. Running shoes are specific to running and will last longer if you only use them for their intended purpose.
If you like to wear your running shoes for casual use or in the gym, best bet is to get a second pair. Or, use an already worn-out pair which is still in good shape.
8. What’s the best way to store my running shoes?
The best way to store your running shoes is in a dry environment where the shoes won’t get stepped on, crushed or torn apart by house pets. Just store your shoes in an open space where there is circulating air (don’t leave them in a box or gym bag). Best advice is to store them on a shelf where the air circulates better and there’s no danger of your dog chewing on them.
9. How many miles can I expect from my running shoes?
The million dollar question that every sales guy/gal in every shoe store in Texas gets asked every day. The best answer we can provide is if you take good care of the shoes, you’ll get plenty of miles in your running shoes. A good ballpark figure for the miles you can expect is between 300 and 500 miles. But each running model is constructed differently with different materials. Some shoes are more durable than others because of the materials. Also, runners are constructed differently and some are harder on shoes than other runners. Bigger runners will get fewer miles out of the same shoe than a small runner will.
10. Is it worth it to get my running shoes resoled?
Probably not. The resoling will just the extend the life of the outsole. But a resole job can’t extend the life of the midsole which is where almost all the cushioning takes place. Once that midsole is worn out (which usually occurs before the outsole wears out), the shoe is shot.