I’m not a runner. I’m not a marathoner, a 5ker, hell…I’m not a get up when, stressed, sad or bored and go for a run type. I don’t randomly go for runs, or enjoy it. It is a necessary evil. I run for fitness. Only. I don’t like it. It doesn’t help me think. I don’t like running. I am an athlete at heart. I was never a lazy basketball player, so I didn’t mind running on the basketball court, but in my head…that was running with a purpose! Running just to run? Sounds like punishment to me (have you figured out that I’m not a runner yet?)! After hitting my 30s, basketball and all of the pounding on my joints has gotten to be too much, and cardio machines are so monotonous (I still do them), running has found its way into my workout routines. Cardio machines are great when I need a 15-30-minute workout. It’s great to get (and keep) your heartrate elevated for that long. But when I need a full body, calorie burning, cardio blasting workout, I run. It’s usually only a mile, and it usually takes me so long that I know not to brag, but it’s effective. Since I’ve decided to add running into my workouts, I’ve learned some things. One of them being how critical it is to take care of your shoes. I’ve put together a few tips to help you take a look at your shoes and decide if they are ready to be retired, or if you can/should continue to run in them.

When I decided to add running into my workout routine, my goal was to be able to run a mile without stopping. After a workout, I made the mistake one day of just jumping on the treadmill and pushing ‘start’. I wanted to see how far I could run, and there was no time like the present. Sounds great right? My feet, ankles, shins, and knees didn’t seem to think so! Good fitting, properly supportive RUNNING shoes that are ideal for your running type are the most important things for you to have when you run. I was only able to jog for about 3 minutes before the pain (nearly everywhere) got so severe that I had to stop the treadmill. Defeated, sad that it hurt so bad, and embarrassed that the senior citizen next to seemed to be smirking, I limped into the locker room unsure of where I went wrong. As an athlete, I have suffered defeat before. I was fine with that part…mostly because I knew I’d be back to give it a solid fight. After some research on running, and time in a fitness forum, I learned that my shoes were probably the issue. Here are some things that I learned about knowing when to quit (on your running shoes)!

I learned quickly that having proper support in your running shoes can determine your success or failure with running. As a Movement Science (or Kinesiology) major, I was always taught about the connection of the kinetic chain. Nothing drives the point home like running in improper (or worn out) shoes. One of the ways to determine if you need new running shoes is to track the number of miles you put on them. Most running shoes are designed to hold up for 300-500 miles. I have found that 300 is typically the magic number for average sized runners. However, heavier runners will require replacement more often, and lighter runners may be able to wear theirs for longer. If you run 15 miles a week, expect to have to replace your shoes somewhere around the 5-8 month mark. I don’t know if I’ll EVER run 15 miles in a week, so I usually replace my running shoes every 10 months to a year. I use apps to keep track of how many miles I’m putting on my shoes, but I also make sure to not wear my running shoes for anything other than my runs. The distances that you wear your shoes while walking around, and for general use count toward those 300 miles, so to prolong your shoes, only wear them for running.

If your shoes are sitting across the room and you look at them, do they look like your feet are still in them? Have they kind of ‘conformed’ to your foot? If you look at your shoe and can easily make out the imprint of your baby toe, or can see that where your big toe-nail typically rubs on all of your shoes, it’s time for those shoes to go! Aside from mileage, wear and tear indicators are usually more accurate for newer runners to tell when it’s time to replace shoes because awkward mechanics and other factors may cause us to wear our shoes out more quickly, even though we may not have reached 300 miles. Once the foam on a running shoe wears out, your chance of overuse injuries greatly increases.

Lastly, when you pick up your shoes and look at the sole, are the treads worn out? Depending on the kind of runner you are, your shoes will show a distinct running pattern. Within that pattern, if you have noticed that you have worn your treads down, it is time to get new shoes. It is believed that the treads will always outlast the cushion and shock absorbency of the shoe, so if you have worn the treads smooth, your shoe is probably not protecting your body from impact the way it is meant to. Shoes that don’t absorb shock like they should, allow the vibration from the impact of heel strike to impact the heel, ankle, shins to the knee and continue up the kinetic chain.

There are lots of things that an have an effect on the wear and tear of your running shoes. No two people stress shoes the same. Trail and treadmill running are much easier on shoes than running on pavement, an avid runner with great technique will likely not stress a shoe as much as a new runner with bad form and a heavy heel strike. Regardless of your running experience, running shoes are your first line of defense in protection against the stress running places on our bodies. Proper equipment is paramount! Trusting your body and how it feels is probably always going to be the best indicator of when to replace your shoes. It doesn’t matter if your app says you have another 100 miles to put on your running shoes. If you find that you are experiencing abnormal soreness after a run, that you feel could be because of your shoes, change them! Running can be hard on your body, invest in good running shoes, and your body will thank you!

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