As a runner, one of the biggest outlays during your whole running journey will be your running shoes.
It’s imperative that you get yourself correctly fitted for trainers to prevent injury and to ensure you can carry on running without thinking twice about whether or not your trainers are rubbing your feet.
Ideally, you should change your trainers between 300 – 500 miles/500 – 800kms, so if you’re running 20 miles a week (which is what I’m averaging at the moment) then you’d need to replace them after 4-6 months.
If you’re experiencing any pain or injuries to your hips, knees, ankles or anywhere during your runs, this could mean your trainers need replacing, so it’s probably best to go to a sports shop and get a proper gaited analysis.
Running is supposed to be enjoyable- and it's no fun if all you’re thinking about is the pain in your feet!
Knowing The Signs – When To Replace Your Running Shoes
There are a few signs to know if your trainers need to be replaced and it’s best to do this before they’ve done too many miles/kms to save injury/damage to yourself.
I ran my previous trainers into the ground and didn’t even switch them out until I’d had them for two years! Yes, so bad and I was dutifully told off by the shop assistants that I’d left it too long!
This is why it’s so important to note the mileage of your shoes in your running app, such as Strava. My previous pair did 558.8km before I retired them, just to give you an idea of how much mileage is too much!
In the Strava app, when you’re adding your shoes, it says that ‘the general industry recommendation is to replace shoes between 500 and 800 kms to prevent injury’ and you can edit this too if you want to be reminded earlier that it’s about time to get another pair.
I left it way too long to replace mine and I can see now that some of my runs could’ve been better had I been wearing new trainers with cushioning on the soles.
There's nothing quite like turning up to your first Parkrun in 5 months and getting a new PR to realise that, yes indeed, your old trainers really were that bad!
Signs it's time for an upgrade:
New, unexplained aches and pains during or after a run
Shin splints, joint pain and muscle fatigue during a run
Cushioning is worn down on the inside of the shoes
Your feet are getting more sore or stiff
The shape of your shoes might’ve worn down
Blisters or friction burns after a run
Worn out treads
If any or all of these signs are showing up during/after your runs, then you need to get yourself a new pair of shoes, because there’s nothing worse than finding out 5 miles into a 10-mile run that your shoes are causing you pain- just like I did!
The difference I felt when I went out for a run in my new trainers as opposed to my old ones was like night and day.
The cushioning really helped me to feel secure in my shoes and I felt like I could push myself further/faster, which is just what I need whilst I’m training for another half marathon!
Breaking In Your New Running Shoes
Two words: Be. Prepared! Just like with almost any other shoe, it takes time for your feet to get adapted to the new running shoes, especially if you’ve changed brands from your previous pair.
It will take time for your feet to become accustomed to fitting into a new shoe shape and how the cushioning moulds around it.
If you’ve been sensible and still have some life left in your old trainers, then you can switch between them whilst you’re breaking in your new runners.
You can alternate between the two and avoid going straight into the new pair, which could cause pain or soreness due to them being different to your old pair.
Breaking in your new shoes should only take between 5-10 miles, and they’re then stable enough for at least 400-500 miles.
If you’re replacing your older pair with the exact same shoe, the technology has evolved so much that you don’t need to spend as much time breaking them in. You’ll be able to wear those shoes fresh out of the box.
But if you want to change things up, or find that you need/want to change brands, it’s less about breaking in the shoe and more about breaking in your body. It can and does adapt to different shoes over time, but the key is to avoid sudden changes.
It’s not really recommended to immediately throw out your old pair and go straight into your new pair, ideally, you should make that change over a period of a couple of weeks.
So again, NOT what I’m doing... but I didn’t have much choice, given how I’d completely run my old trainers into the ground after not realising I ideally needed to replace them a couple of hundred kms earlier.
But I have to say, so far so good, I’ve only run 10.3kms in them but I’m already noticing the difference! The cushioning feels like I’m running on clouds...
This is why it’s important to keep a running log which keeps track of the miles in your shoes, so you can upgrade before your current pair breaks down beyond repair.
It's also important to remember that your new trainers need 24-48 hours to repair – puff back up as it were! - after a long run. This means that if you run every day, the cushioning goes down quicker.
If you want to get serious about your running, it can be a good idea to have 2 pairs of running shoes so you can switch, giving the cushioning time to puff back up. This is also helpful if one pair gets wet or damaged.
Looking After Your Running Shoes
The most important tip I can give you is DO NOT PUT THEM IN THE WASHING MACHINE OR TUMBLE DRYER!
OK, with that out of the way, the correct way to wash them is with hot soapy water and a brush or cloth. You can stuff them with newspaper and put them somewhere warm to dry off.
You can also do this if you’ve been out in the rain and your trainers are wet.
Here are some other tips to ensure your running shoes last as long as possible:
If the shoes are saturated, take out the in-soles and dry them separately
Hang up your shoes to dry them, in a position so the water can run out easily
Stuff them with newspaper, but take this out after 2-3 hours so the shoes can dry naturally
Don’t put them on a radiator or in direct sunlight to dry, as this can affect the glues holding them together
Store your running shoes in a dry environment where they’ll not get crushed or damaged
Always untie your laces when taking off your running shoes to prevent breaking down the heel of your shoe and over-stretching them
If you look after your running shoes the right way, they’ll last you far longer than if you just toe them off after every run and leave them in the hallway until your next run!
After all, you’ve spent enough money on them, the last thing you really want to be doing is having to fork out again sooner than you need or want to because of bad maintenance.
So, In Conclusion
If you’ve learnt anything from this post, please let it be that you keep a log of your running shoes and that you change them regularly!
This is what I’ll be doing from now on. I’ve set my Strava to remind me after 300kms so that my current runners still have life left in them.
Although, of course, I’ll be more aware of how I’m feeling during my runs and if my aches/pains are due to the cushioning wearing away rather than bad form during my runs, for example.
It is very important that as runners we look after ourselves in all aspects, from nutrition to our diets and, of course, ensuring that we have the correct equipment to run at our best during the toughest tests we put ourselves through – such as during a half marathon!
The technology within running shoes is ever-evolving and it’s important that as runners we continue to push forward in search of a better time, a quicker pace or shoes that enable us to run up that hill we’re always avoiding!
One piece of advice I would give you is to go to a specialised sports shop where you can get a gaited analysis done by experts. The saying ‘no hoof no horse’ is true for runners – if we don’t look after our feet, how can we expect them to carry us around a race?
Yes, proper trainers are expensive, but you get what you pay for- and these shoes are definitely worth it!
Do you need to update your running shoes? Do you have any running tips? Let me know in the comments!
Love, Sarah xoxo