But there isn’t one BEST pair of running shoes for everyone. There are different types of running shoes and different types of runners, with different gaits, experience and goals. Even though I have strong feelings about my running shoes, the shoes I run in may not be the best shoes for you.
The right pair of shoes helps absorb impact for more comfort (and I learned that’s especially important when running during pregnancy), improve traction (especially important during rainy runs or snowy runs), and provide support (to help prevent injuries!). The wrong pair and/or size can cause blisters, knee pain, hip pain and just feel plain terrible. Oh and let’s not forget the importance of good socks! (These and these are some of my favorites.)
So, do the work to find the right pair of running shoes for YOU. Ideally, go to a running specialty store to get fitted and run in a few pairs. Call ahead the see if they can schedule a time to try a pair on safely – many stores are offering appointments to accommodate COVID social distancing. If that’s not an option, I have a lesson in my running course on running shoe basics to help you choose the best pair for you so you can shop online.
Then, once you’ve found your perfect pair, remember that every good running shoe has a limited lifespan. So, how do you know if it’s time to replace your shoes?
Replace shoes around 300-400 miles. I use Strava to track the miles on my shoes. But keep in mind that some shoes may wear out around 250 miles. Others may last until 500. So, given that wide range, what else can you look for?
New pain while running, such as knee pain, foot pain or hip pain. Don’t ignore pain! Ignoring pain can lead to bigger issues such as stress fractures or torn ligaments. Recovering from an injury is frustrating so you want to avoid getting injured in the first place!
Shoes feel “flat.” If you had spring and they felt responsive and they start to feel flat and heavy, you may have worn out the cushion.
If the tread on the bottom looks smooth, that’s another indicator that they’re worn out.
But running shoes are expensive, so it can be hard to replace them when you need to and you may be tempted to wear them longer than you should. So let’s get into a few ways to extend the life of your running shoes.
This is a difficult rule to follow when you get a new pair of shoes since sometimes they are really cute. (Like these Nikes I love!) However, saving your running shoes only for running will help decrease the mileage on them, save the cushion and protect the tread. Wearing them throughout your day adds unnecessary mileage and wear and tear.
I will admit that I keep my running shoes around long after they’ve worn out because I’m sentimental about them. But even after they’ve lived their life for running, they work great for easy hikes, short walks, running errands, or yard shoes. (However, if you’re doing a lot of hiking or walking, you need a solid pair for those. Using old running shoes for long walks is part of the reason my recovery from my last injury took so long!)
Untie your shoes and properly tie them
Sounds silly but we all pull shoes off without untying them! And it’s tempting to want to pull your shoes when they’re still tied in you’re short on time, but it’s not good for your shoe. Especially if you’re crushing the heel of the shoe each time. It’s important to take the extra time to untie them when you’re done with your run, and put them on the right way each time you run. Try not to just slip your feet out of your tied shoes post-run either. Every time we take them off carelessly, we stretch them and wear them down just a tad.
So, after you run, untie your shoe and loosen the laces. Then, when you put them on, tighten them from the bottom before lacing. They should feel snug but not restrictive.
Clean them correctly
Don’t toss your shoes into the washing machine! DON’T!!!! Just use a paper towel and some water to spot clean. Make sure to get any rocks or pebbles out of the tread. And never put them in a dryer. That’s a great way to ruin a great pair of shoes. (Save the washing machine for your Allbirds, one of my favorite casual shoes!)
Help them dry the right way.
While I BEG you not to put your shoes in the dryer, keeping them dry will help them last longer. Let them air dry. If they get soaked from a rainy run (one of my favorite types of runs!), take the insoles out to dry and then stuff the shoes with newspaper or packing paper. (Hey, let’s be honest, we’re all shopping online a lot more these days. We all have it around!)
If you let the moisture stay in there, it can more quickly break down the glue and materials that make up your shoe. Put your shoes and insoles in a place with good air circulation that’s not too cold, which slows down drying. Sticking them outside works well too if it’s not too cold. However, avoid too much heat (e.g. from a heating vent, blowdryer or direct sunlight) since too much heat can also break down the glue.
I put mine on a drying rack near my dryer so there is air circulation and residual warmth without too much heat.
Rotate your shoes
I always have multiple pairs of running shoes, including different brands and different types for different types of runs. Wearing a shoe with more cushion can be really great for a recovery or easy run, whereas a shoe with a carbon plate is better for a faster workout or race day. And my shoe preferences while pregnant definitely changed from my usual go-to’s!
Not only does rotating your shoes make each pair last much longer since one pair isn’t taking all the mileage, but switching out your shoes is also great for your body. It helps to work different muscles while running, all the way from your feet on up.