Whether you are a beginner or a professional, running shoes can literally make or break your running experience. Not only do quality running shoes reduce the risks of injuries, but it can improve your workout experience and enhance your running! With so much investment going into a pair of shoes, it is important to take care of them properly so that their effectiveness will last for a long time.
If you are a runner looking to know more about maintaining your running shoes, this article is for you. From figuring out the lifespan of your running shoes to the proper way to store and clean them, this guide aims to equip you with all the information you need to take proper care of your running shoes!
How Long Do Running Shoes Last?
One thing to note is that the lifespan of shoes is determined by distance and not time. As such, many experts agree that most running shoes can last between 500 and 750 kilometres (about 300 to 500 miles). If you want to know how many months your shoes can last, simply take the above number and divide it by the distance you run every week. For example, most professional runners run an average of 30 kilometres per week, which puts the lifespan of /their running shoes between 4 to 6 months.
Nevertheless, the rate at which running shoes wear out differs from person to person. It depends on how frequently you run, what type of terrain you run on, and the distance you run each time. Even your weight and running technique can impact the longevity of your shoes! It really boils down to biophysics – the more pressure you exert on your shoes, the faster the materials will stretch and thin out.
As you run, your running shoes accumulate a lot of dirt, dust, and sweat and also take a beating from the ground you run on. They may be tough but they cannot last forever. Once the soles go bald and the foam becomes thin, the running shoes have lived out their lifespan. However, as long as you properly take care of your running shoes, they won’t be forced into an ‘early retirement’ and you will be able to get a few more miles out of them.
Choose Running Shoes For The Right Purposes
There are many types of running shoes for different situations. As such, not only is it important to choose shoes that fit you properly, but also ensure that they suit the purpose. A beginner who is just starting out may just need a pair that provides enough cushioning, while a professional runner who runs frequently requires very durable shoes that can last a long distance.
The type of terrain you run on also impacts the kind of running shoes that you wear. This is because there are different features built into the shoes to make it more comfortable and suitable for the different terrains – trail, track, and road. The correct running shoes will provide stability when running while the wrong ones may increase your chances of injuries from slipping or tripping.
Therefore, using the correct running shoes for the right conditions will ensure that extra wear and tear is not sustained. For example, wearing road running shoes when you’re running on the trail will wear it faster than if it’s only used to run on the road. Many people also use running shoes when they are walking long-distance or trekking. While that is entirely possible, do note that it may decrease the lifespan of the running shoes as it will be covering more distance. As such, if you’re looking for the right running shoes to purchase, make sure they’re suitable for the reason for which you need them.
Cleaning & Storing Your Shoes The Right Way
Your running shoes may look clean and brand-new from the store, but it will quickly get dirty the more you use it. From the mud from trails to the sweat and oils from your body, our shoes can accumulate a lot of dirt. Not cleaning your shoes can actually weaken the rubber and cause the stitching to unravel. However, the worst thing that you can do to your running shoes is to put them in the washing machine. The fabrics and materials that ensure the durability of your running shoes (and the adhesive that keeps your shoes together) can easily be destroyed when it is put through an intense wash cycle. Here are 4 steps to follow to ensure that you clean your shoes in a way that will maintain their longevity and efficacy.
- Use a shoe-brush or wet wipes and gently rub them all over the shoes to remove the gritty parts of the dirt
- Remove the laces and the insoles and hand wash them separately with soap and water
- Use a sneaker cleaner or a mixture of dish soap and water to clean the rest of the grime from your shoes
- Get rid of the odour by stuffing your shoes with newspaper and drying them at room temperature (this also helps to maintain the shape of your shoes)
How you store your shoes also contributes to increasing its lifespan. Prolonged exposure to high temperatures will cause the midsole (the heel of the shoe) to shrink and harden and the adhesive to delaminate. That’s why your running shoes should be stored away from direct sunlight after a run.
Many people often stack their shoes when they have limited shoe space but that can crush the uppers of your running shoes and wear them down. However, storing them in the shoebox will result in shoes retaining odours due to the limited air circulation. This creates an unpleasant smell, particularly if your shoes are damp. As such, make sure to store your running shoes in a dry and open environment where they will not be weighed down by other shoes and receive proper air circulation.
Other Tips To Help Keep Your Running Shoes in Tip-Top Condition
As long as you clean and store your running shoes properly, you can get decent mileage from them. Nonetheless, there are a few other tips that you can incorporate if you want to take extra care of your shoes.
- Rest your shoes in between runs
When you run, the foam in your running shoes can get compressed and usually take about 2 days to decompress. Running on compressed foam thins them out easily. If you’re not a regular runner, you should run every two days so that your shoes will be in the best shape when you wear them. For those that run almost every day, you can switch between two pairs of shoes to prolong the life of your shoes.
- Untie your shoelaces instead of kicking them off
Often, when you are too tired after a run, you may be tempted to kick off your shoes with your feet so that you can rest quickly. It is best to limit this because when you kick off your shoe, your foot pushes down on the heel, further compressing the gel cushioning and loosening the heel collar. This can reduce the stability of your running shoes and lead to more slips. As such, always try to untie your laces before taking off your shoes.
- Send it for light repairs
If your shoes have loose stitching or missing eyelets, you can send it for light repairs so as to increase its longevity. Some shoe repair stores can even repair holes in the sole if it is small enough.
Running shoes being a crucial part of a runner’s gear, it is imperative that maintain their condition as best as you can. Do remember that as much as you take care of your shoes, they will eventually reach the end of their lifespan. That’s when you should replace your running shoes so that you can ensure a comfortable and safe running experience.
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