Are you sick of having to buy a new pair of running shoes every 6 months? Is your bank account screaming at you to stop spending money on new shoes? If so, then you’ve come to the right place.
Your running shoes are your most important piece of gear when you’re running, and without a pair, you won’t be able to have enjoyable running sessions. Of course, no pair of shoes can last forever, but you’re certainly able to make them last longer.
Here’s how to do just that.
Only Wear Them When Running
Yes, your running shoes are extremely cool, but if you’re running in them daily and also wearing them around town, those extra miles are going to add up and reduce their longevity.
Remember, your shoes need some time to rest. If you’re so in love with your running shoes, consider investing in a second pair – one that you can wear while on the trail, and one that you can wear for errands or when you’re on vacation.
Additionally, if you’re lucky enough to own multiple pairs, you can really push the limits of your running shoes and keep your going-out shoes looking fresh.
Track Your Miles
You should replace your running shoes every 300 – 500 miles, though this exact value is going to depend on a number of factors, like your stride pattern, weight, and the durability of the shoes themselves.
It might seem tedious to track your miles, but the process is actually easier than you’d think. If you have a training log handy, make note of when you take your pair for a run for the first time, and add up your mileage weekly or monthly.
If you’re using a good GPS watch, combine it with a decent running log app that allows you to track the mileage of your shoes effortlessly. Many of the most useful running apps out there will allow you to track your mileage for several pairs of running shoes at once, and they’ll also let you set which pair you wore for each run.
You’ll be able to choose the mileage limit for each pair, and then the app will alert you when the shoes have reached their limit. This is a great way to monitor which of your shoes lasts the longest, and which are wearing out quicker.
You may reach 450 miles and find that your favorite pair of shoes is still going strong, full of life. On the other hand, you might find that some models just don’t last as long and are not compatible with your running style. Tracking your running miles not only helps you protect your body, but allows you to be more mindful of the longevity of your running shoes.
Clean Your Shoes (But Never Put Them in the Dryer)
Many runners can become obsessive about the cleanliness of their shoes, and while cleanliness is most definitely an important factor, deep cleaning is not always necessary.
Many runners prefer to clean their shoes by hand rather than chucking them in the washing machine, and for good reason. It’s absolutely essential to wash your shoes, and if you don’t want to use the old rag method, washing machines are only effective if you use the cold cycle.
The hotter temperatures produced by a washer can damage the glues used to hold your shoes together, which significantly reduces their lifespan. If you are washing your shoes, don’t put them in the dryer either – the heat will damage them.
Have a Few Pairs Handy
Just like your body, your shoes need rest days as well. When the foam in your running shoes becomes sweaty and compressed, it’s going to need some time to dry out and bounce back into shape.
It’s not always a viable option, but if you’ve got a second pair of shoes handy, you can let your used pair rest while you go out running with the others. Giving your shoes a day or two without use will definitely help them last longer.
Additionally, if you are using two different shoe models, the subtle change between the heel-to-toe drop or stack height can help work your other running muscles in your feet and legs.
Protect Them From the Elements
Running shoes can be fragile. Don’t leave them out on the porch to bake in the sun for days, and definitely don’t leave them outside when it’s raining.
The sun can help your shoes dry out and be ready to wear again, but it can also do some serious harm to the materials if you leave them out there. What’s more, while it’s convenient to have your running shoes in your trunk ready to go, extreme temperatures can harm them in there as well.
Use Running Shoes For What They’re Made For
There are some significant differences between road running shoes, trail running shoes, training shoes, and race shoes, so you want to make sure that you’re using your running shoes for what they’re made for.
Wear road shoes on the road, trail shoes on the trail, and racing shoes for your races. Each different pair is specially designed for a different surface, and using them on an incompatible surface will wear them out very quickly.
Dry Them Out
If you run through a flooded trail, a rainstorm, or a stream crossing – or you just tend to sweat a lot during your runs – then your shoes are going to end up soaked. Allowing your shoes to dry out after a wet run is essential, because if you don’t, they’re going to develop a gross fragrance, and just generally won’t feel great to wear.
A great way to dry your running shoes out is to remove the insole, set them aside in a cool, dry place for a few hours, and stuff your shoes with an absorbent material. Paper towels and newspaper work well for this, and you should let your shoes sit for at least a few hours, but preferably overnight.
Once they’re completely dry, remove the paper. It helps to keep a small pile of newspaper handy for rainy days, since you never know when you’re going to need to dry your shoes out. Additionally, if your shoes came with paper stuffed inside them in the box, keep it! It’ll come in handy later.
Marko Rakic is a trail runner and fitness enthusiast from Sydney, Australia. He is the lead writer for The Ultimate Primate and believes the best way to live a happy life is to take a holistic approach to fitness and health.