Running Shoes Advice
Running shoes are the biggest investment a runner can make into his or her training and wellness, so taking care of shoes should be a top priority. Understanding the basics of shoe ownership and care can not only extend the life of your shoes, but also keep your feet happy and healthy. Listed below are a number of DOs and DON’Ts for protecting your shoes and feet.
DO – Experiment with sizes. Everyone’s feet react differently while running. For some people toes swell during runs, while for others heels may swell. Over time people may experience falling arches which changes the typical fit of running shoes, and pregnancy may cause feet to widen. Don’t be afraid to test multiple sizes from different brands to find what works best for you.
DO – Rotate running shoes. Shoe life can be extended by purchasing two or more pairs of shoes and rotating them daily. When the time between wearing is extended shoe material can decompress, resulting in less wear and tear over time.
DON’T – Choose shoes based on color or style. One of the biggest mistakes runners make is eschewing the proper shoe in favor of a model that is more flashy or attractive. Stick with the right fit and remember that shoe styles change ever few months. Eventually the model you like will have the style you want.
DO – Stock up on shoes when they are on sale. When a shoe model is updated the remaining stock of an old model is heavily discounted. Stocking up on a model that works for you is not only recommended to ensure a cheaper price, but also because shoe companies have a tendency to tweak the fit of a shoe which may render it no longer right for you.
DO – Take advantage of websites that let you try a shoe before you buy it. Look for websites that offer the ability to test a shoe and return it if you aren’t satisfied. Many brands and models are not available in local running stores, so the best option is to buy online; however, not all shoes will work for you. Certain websites will allow you to return the shoes even if they have been run in.
DON’T – Rely too much on shoe reviews. Running magazines and websites often review new shoes to help the general public make decisions on whether that shoe may be right for them. While these reviews can be helpful, no one should base their entire decision on the opinion of others, since running shoe fit is incredibly personal.
DO – Recycle your shoes. Most running stores offer shoe recycling services that turn worn out running shoes into playground material or artificial turf, or sends them to 3rd world countries. Utilize this service if you can, as recycling shoes is a much better alternative to having them wind up in a landfill.
DO – Listen to your body. While spending money on a pair of shoes only to realize after 100 miles that they are not the right fit can be frustrating, it is important not to continue wearing a shoe that causes discomfort. Wasting a little bit of money is a much better alternative to having to pay for a doctor’s visit or taking time off.
DO – Give your shoes a grace period. While it is important to listen to your body about whether a shoe fits properly, it is also important not to judge a shoe too hastily. Some shoes, especially those that are heavily cushioned, often require a break-in period. The first 3 – 4 runs may not be the most comfortable, so it is a good idea to break in new shoes during easy runs, not a workout or long run.
DON’T – Use the same pair of shoes for walking and running. Walking and running cause different wear patterns on shoes. Using the same pair for both activities will not only cause the shoes to wear out quicker, but may also increase a runner’s risk of injury.
DO – Learn new lacing techniques. Common fit problems, such as a slipping heel, blisters, black toenails, hot spots, or bunions can all be mitigated by learning new ways to lace your sneakers.
DON’T – Restrict yourself to one brand or model. Runners often fall into a pattern of brand loyalty that, while great for the running shoe companies, can be bad for your feet. Always wearing the same make and model shoe can restrict your foot from using different muscles which may ultimately cause imbalances and lead to injury. Having as diverse a collection of footwear as possible can help you avoid this problem.
DON’T – Wash your shoes in the washing machine. When your shoes become dirty and gross it can be tempting to throw them in the wash. However, this can lead to premature damage to the shoes, especially if placed in the dryer. To remedy problems such as shoe stink, sprinkle the insides with baking soda instead. If shoes absolutely must be washed, do so by hand and let them air dry.
DO – Place newspaper in wet shoes. After a rainy run stuff your shoes with newspaper in order to soak up excess moisture that may lead to the dreaded smell of mildew. For shoes that are especially soaked, replace the newspaper every 4 hours.
DON’T – Place orthotics in non-neutral shoes. If you have been prescribed orthotics be sure that you are placing them in a neutral shoe. Orthotics in a stability or motion control shoe will undoubtedly cause injury.
DO – Log how many miles are on each pair of shoes. You will be surprised how easy it is to forget how long you have had a pair of shoes and accidentally run twice the number of miles than are recommended. If you have multiple pairs of shoes, use a permanent marker to number each pair.
DO – Ditch the shoes periodically. Running 5 – 10 minutes per week barefoot can improve foot strength and form, so long as you have access to soft surfaces.
If you have any suggestions or more running shoe advice, please let us know in the comments or find us on Facebook.