What Can You Do With Old Running Shoes
When its time to retire your running shoes, consider donating or repurposing them.
- Donate them. While your running shoes may no longer be good for running, they can be used by those in need. Many programs like Soles 4 Souls take old running shoes. Many running specialty stores have boxes where you can donate your shoes to these programs.
- Use them for the gym or running errands. Even if your running shoes are no longer good to run in, they can still make a good cross-training, lawn-mowing, or errand- running shoe.
Nothing lasts forever but, by taking care of your running shoes, you can ensure that they last the longest possible time for you. Plus, they save you from a running injury caused by shoes that are past their intended life.
A New Pair Feels Better
Expert researchers suggest that runners should use two pairs of running shoes and rotate them among training and races. This way, once the older pair feels uncomfortable compared to the newer pair, you know its time to replace it. The biggest giveaway should be the cushioning, which should feel much better in the newer pair of running shoes.
The Shock Absorption Is Shot
While you can easily see when the tread is worn out, its harder to tell with the midsole foam, which is the part of the shoe that gives your legs that springy feeling with each step. Look for deterioration by placing your shoes on a flat table and examining them from behind.
On a level surface, your shoes should be straight and even, says Wilk.
However, lopsidedness is a sign that the structure of the midsole foam is compromised. When this happens, the midsole loses its ability to absorb the force of impact caused by pounding the pavement. Now, your knees and shins take the brunt of the force.
A depleted midsole can also cause foot instability, making it more likely to roll your feet in or out and leading to ankle and knee problems.
Extreme flexibility is another red flag of midsole breakdown, says Wood.
You dont want to be able to fold a running shoe like a tortilla. If you can bend the toe to the heel collar, your shoe probably has little to no shock absorption left.
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Shock Absorption Is Limited As Shoes Get Older
In a fairly old study, Cook, Kester, and Brunet at Tulane University examined the degradation in mechanical shock absorption in a variety of different shoes.1
First, using a running machine which simulated the impact associated with running hundreds of miles in a pair of shoes, the researchers tested in a controlled way how the shock absorption changed over time.
Then, they compared these artificially worn shoes to shoes worn by actual runners over an equivalent volume of running.
In the machine-simulated running, shoes had decreased to 75% of their initial cushion after only 50 miles this cushioning dropped to 67% after 150 miles and ultimately to 60% after 500 miles.
The shoes worn by the real runners also declined in cushioning, following the same pattern of rapid decrease in cushion initially, tapering off and nearly leveling out at 500 miles of running.
But when worn by real runners, the shoes only dropped to 80% of their initial cushioninggood news for shoe-shoppers.
Heres something you probably want to know:
The researchers found no significant difference in wear properties amongst many different brands.
The Nike shoes deteriorated just as much as the Adidas or Brooks shoes, despite each shoe boasting different cushioning technology.
So much for a superior brand!
Finally, Cook et al. tested the decompression theory, which many runners have likely heard of.
When Should You Really Replace Your Running Shoes
If you ask the big shoe brands how often you should replace your running kicks, theyre going to give you a mileage estimate. Brooks, for example, comes right out and suggests every 250 to 500 miles, depending on the shoe. The problem is, theres little in the way of hard evidence to back the need for such frequent replacement, and running coaches recommendations to clients vary dramatically.
I dont follow the guidelines you typically see from the shoe companies, says Kyle Kranz, a competitive runner and coach. My rules are easier to follow and much more economical: If the shoes fall apart or you wear through the bottom, its time for a new pair. Kranz practices what he preaches, usually racking up between 800 and 1,500 miles per pair.
The Myth of Mileage
If a shoes expected mileage lies somewhere between Brooks Runnings suggested 250 miles and Kranzs 1,500 miles, it becomes evident pretty quickly that a shoes lifespan really just depends on the runner. Debbie Woodruff, a running coach based in California, points out that bigger men generally go through shoes faster than smaller men, since extra poundage compresses the shoes internal EVA foam more quickly. Likewise, dudes with less-efficient form who pound the pavement with each step tend to wear out shoes faster than those who are light on their feet. And of course, environment makes a difference: Rough terrain or loose asphalt tears up shoes faster than grass or well-kempt trails.
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How To Tell When Your Sneakers Are Toast
Even if youre not tracking miles, there are physical signs that indicate its time to buy a new pair of sneakers. Excessive flexibility is one of them.
Running shoes are designed to be flexible in the forefoot because thats where your bones are flexing, so if youre seeing flexibility in the forefoot, thats not a super big concern, Brittany Gleaton, associate footwear product line manager at Brooks Running, told HuffPost. But if it starts to flex in the midfoot and heel, thats a really good sign that you need a new shoe because shoes are not designed to be flexible in those parts of the foot.
Not sure if your shoes have too much flex to them? Dr. Wenjay Sung, a podiatrist at Methodist Hospital of Southern California in Arcadia, California, recommends taking each shoe in your hands and twisting it.
If the shoe feels weak, as if a simple turn of the wrist can bend it out of alignment, then its time to replace your sneakers, Sung said. Even if one shoe is still strong while the other is weak, it is prudent to replace both sneakers.
Excessive wear on the outsole of the shoe is another red flag. This can take the form of the tread wearing down or even disappearing in some parts.
Typically, the midsole will break down before the outsole. If you are seeing wear in the leather or even the foam on the outside of the shoe, thats a good sign that the midsole is probably already broken down, Gleaton said.
So How Long Should Running Shoes Last
Estimations on how long running shoes should last vary, but as a guide, in the right conditions shoes should last between 500 and 750km before they are compromized. Obviously if youre a seasoned runner or professional that heads out on a long run each day, then this can mean youre in need of a new pair of shoes much more frequently than someone who runs for fun or casually. Every shoe and runner is different, so below weve highlighted the major things that can affect the lifecycle of a running shoe, and signs to look out for when deciding if its time to say goodbye to your trusty run companion.
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How To Tell If Running Shoes Are Worn Out
Sometimes the eyeball test will tell you all you need to know about the age of your shoes, but other times worn out shoes might not be so obvious. If your shoes arent telling you theyre ready to be retired, your body might provide clues.
Here are some signs that your running shoes are ready for a slower life of mowing the lawn:
- Your shoes will feel flat. The bouncy midsole foam in a pair of new shoes will absorb impact associated with running, saving your feet and joints from taking a pounding. As your shoes age, though, the foam loses some of its ability to rebound, like if you put a brick on top of a marshmallow.
- Nagging aches and pains. Hard workouts or increased mileage can make you feel sore the next day, but if little pains persist even after a normal run, it might be time for a refresh.
- Worn soles. The outsoles of your running shoes have tread just like the tires on your car, which helps cushion your landings and grip the pavement. But the ground is abrasive, especially if you primarily run on concrete and asphalt. If your soles sport bald patches and excessive wear, they wont serve you as well as a new pair.
- Uneven wear. If your worn soles are uneven, this can signal an even greater problem than just needing new shoes. It could mean you need different types of shoes, like a pair of the best stability shoes, to better support your feet. If that’s the case, take them with you when you go to get fitted for your next pair.
Tricks To Make Your Shoes Last Longer
In the interest of athletic performance and injury prevention, its for the best that runners dont keep wearing a shoe well past its prime. But everyone wants to get their moneys worth out of good gearand if were honest, it can be tough to retire a pair that have fond memories tied to them. To that end, there are a few simple ways to make your favorite kicks last a bit longer.
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When Should I Replace My Running And Walking Shoes
Finding the right shoes can feel like an endless journey. So once you find a comfortable pair of running or walking shoes, it is extremely hard to part ways. Rule of thumb is most running shoes last between 300 to 500 miles and should be replaced every three to six months. So, is it time to replace my running and walking shoes?If your exercise routine consists of walking 30 minutes a day, or an average of 3 to 4 hours a week, consider replacing your shoes every six months. If you are walking 60 minutes a day or an average of 7 hours a week, consider replacing your shoes every three months. After three to six months, shoes lose support and shock absorption, which may leave you prone to injury.
First Of All Running Shoes Actually Do Break Down
Before we get into how to tell when your running shoes are circling the drain, its important to understand whats actually going on there with their breakdown. Yes, running shoe companies have a vested interest in encouraging you to fork over $100-plus every few months. But the idea that you need to replace your shoes regularly isnt just a marketing ploy, Robert Conenello, D.P.M., a sports podiatrist and founder of Orangetown Podiatry in Orangeburg, New York, tells SELF. Your running sneakers actually do break down over time, starting with the foam that cushions each collision with the ground.
When you run, you take an average of 160 to 200 steps per minute, each of which compresses your shoes in between the ground and the weight of your body, Brian Metzler, a dedicated shoe geek, tester, and the author of Kicksology: The Hype, Science, Culture & Cool of Running Shoes, tells SELF. This causes the midsolethe squishy part in between the shoes bottom and the fabric upperto break down.
Midsoles are made of foams with technical-sounding names like ethylene-vinyl acetate or polyurethane , which trap air in small cells to absorb the shock of each foot strike. Over time, the impact of running causes these cells to warp and flatten, Dr. Conenello says. Even if youre not using your shoes regularly, the foam still loses some of its shape and resiliency, or the ability to bounce back after its compressed.
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Get Fitted By A Professional To Make Sure The Shoe Is Right For You
When you visit your local running store, the shoe-buying experience should include a knowledgeable staff member helping to determine which pair is best for you based on a variety of features: from measuring your foot size and arch height to doing a gait analysis.
The alignment of the customer has a lot to do with how durable that shoe is going to be for them, Weich explains. For instance, the durability of a neutral shoe is going to be greatly affected if the wearer overpronatestheyre going to wear down the big toe or the arch side of the shoe much more quickly.
Where You Run Makes A Difference
The treadmill is going to cause the tread of your running shoe to wear the least. The grass will come next close behind the treadmill. The track will follow grass in its tendency to wear your shoes tread down.
Trail running sits in the middle of the treadwear scale. Trails, in particular, can be rough on your tread wear as well, however, if youre running technical terrain then you should have a second pair of trail running shoes. This will spare your road running shoes taxing tread.
If your trail running is mostly flat and lacks obstacles then your road running shoes should be just fine. For more about trail running check out Trail Running for beginners 8 things to know before you go!
The two surfaces that are the roughest on your shoes tread are asphalt and then concrete being the tread eating monster.
So if youre wanting to save some extra tread by only running on a treadmill just remember that if youre training for a race you need to run about 60% of your runs on the same surface as your actual race. This leads you with two options you need to do most of your running on the trail or on the road.
The only deviation from this is when youre running a virtual race. In this case, you can run on a treadmill because you can also run your virtual race on a treadmill.
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Running Shoes Lifespan How Often To Replace Running Shoes
Most experts recommend swapping out running shoes every 400 to 500 miles.
This means if you average 30 miles a week, look for new kicks every four to five months.
But the 500-mile isnt gospel, even though it works pretty well.
In fact, the rule might be too simplistic and doesnt apply to every runner or every shoe brand out there.
Heavy runners who often run on a hard surface may need a new pair at the lower end of the recommendation hand, while light runners who stick to
By the same token, if you solely run on the treadmill, you might not need to retire your kicks as soon as youd if you regularly tackle technical trails.
Note Heres how to make your running shoes last longer.
Save Your Shoes Only For Exercise
Dont wear them all day slip into them only for your exercise time. If you keep them on your feet, they get more wear and they have longer exposure to foot moisture and bacteria, which will break them down faster. So, save your running or walking shoes for exercise. Only try not to wear them around town, as they will wear down faster.
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How To Tell When Its Time To Replace Your Running Shoes
Since shoes dont wilt, disappear, or come with a sell-by date, how do you know when its time to retire them? You can look for clues on your run or on the shoes themselves, and supplement with some tracking over time.
Chances are, youll be able to sense that your shoes have broken down before you can see that anythings amiss.
If you start to feel as though youre not getting the performance that you had before, or if youre starting to get new aches and pains, it might be time for a new pair, Dr. Conenello says. Anything from soreness in your heels to knee pain could signal the end of your sneakers blisters or chafing in new places could also be a sign. Many runners notice they have a type of ache that only appears when their shoes are close to their demise, whether thats shin splints or hip soreness, Metzler says.
Finally, you might also just notice that running feelsdifferent. When you get a new shoe, it feels light and lively and bouncy, Metzler says. Older pairs, meanwhile, lack the same spark or pizzazz. The shoe feels dead. And thats coming from that foam being worn out or compressed to the point that it cant be rejuvenated. As a result, your pace may slow even if youre expending the same amount of effort, making running more laborious and less, well, fun.
Here Are Additional Factors That Affect When To Replace Your Running Shoes:
- Minimalist shoes have less cushioning, so expect them to be done around 300 miles.
- Traditional running shoes and maximum cushioning shoes tend to last until around the 500-mile mark.
- Heavier people will get fewer miles than lighter people, regardless of shoe type.
- If you wear your running shoes casually, those miles also count toward the total.
- Dirt on your shoes is no big deal, but if you see significant wear and tear, it may be time to retire your shoes. Keep an eye out for heel damage, worn soles and rips and tears.
- If you notice new discomfort in your feet, legs, knees, hips or back after running, it may be time for a new pair of shoes. The same is true if youre getting blisters or feeling hot spots where you never used to.
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