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When should you retire your running shoes?

Experts believe running shoes must be changed every 400-800km, but there are other signs as well. Lounge tells you all you need to know about proper shoe-care

You need to able to read the wear and tear of your running shoes and also take good care of it. (Photo: Istockphoto)
You need to able to read the wear and tear of your running shoes and also take good care of it. (Photo: Istockphoto)

Imagine wearing the same shirt to work, every day, for a year! Wouldn't survive, would it? Well, the same logic applies to your shoes. You must periodically change them, not just for hygienic reasons, but also to avoid injuries. Plus, who doesn't love a new pair of shoe to run in anyway?

According to experts, a pair of running shoes will last for 400-800 km. “Most efficient way to track this is by using an app—leading running apps such as Adidas Runtastic, Strava, Garmin Connect—allow you to specify which pair of shoes you wore for each run. You can track multiple pairs of shoes and decide the mileage cap for each pair,” explains Nivedita Samanta, performance coach at the Adidas runners community.

Your running shoes absorb the impact from constant pounding on the road or pavement; your weight and stride pattern also play a big role in the longevity of your shoes. “Simply, if you are a lightweight urban runner with a normal stride, your shoes will last longer than a heavyweight urban runner with a normal stride. Obviously, a heavier runner who has an overpronation or supination running style will use their shoes quicker than others,” says Samanta.

The tell-tale signs

"It’s crucial to know when to retire your shoes as it has a huge impact on your running experience, adds discomfort and it might lead to unwanted injuries. The shoes have an important role in shock absorption and reduce the impact on your joints and knees," says Amit Dahiya, fitness trainer with Reebok India.

According to Dahiya, the very first sign to retire your shoes is when the cushioning starts reducing and you feel that it's hurting your legs and joints. The next is when your shoes create instability due to wear and tear. The third is when the grip starts fading and your shoes become slippery.

Other cues include a chipping of sole from the areas which take the main impact while running—such as the toe or heel, and a lack or bounce or instability around the midfoot region. Add to it the simpler signs of overuse, including faded colours, fabric or foam fatigue in places where the laces end or near the heel; gaps between the rubber sole/midsole foam or between the sole and the knit upper.

Taking care of your shoes

All this can sound worrying. After all, nobody wants to keep spending money on running shoes… let’s face it, they are not cheap.

Now, there are a variety of factors. For example, do you wear your shoes only when you’re running, or do you wear them through the day? If you do the latter, then they will wear out faster.

Alternating between two pairs of running shoes, allows for the foam of one pair to decompress and the shoe to dry out. Keeping the shoes clean and grime free is the most basic thing a runner can do.

“If you have run in a downpour, I would strongly urge you to take the insole out, stuff something absorbent like newspaper or paper grocery bags inside and leave them overnight to try,” says Samanta. “But, my biggest recommendation is to always unlace your shoes before you take them off and lace them back on. Do not slide in and out of them—this ruins the support you get from the midsole foam and stretches the upper, thus reducing the support level and can expand the area around the heel.”

So now you know. A bit of daily care, and knowing the signs will go a long way in ensuring that you get to enjoy a great daily run without worrying about injuries or smelly feet.

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