How to get the most miles out of your running shoes

Plus: Proper footwear when you're not running

“Want a strong, solid relationship that is willing to go the distance? Get to know your running shoes.” — Dean Karnazes

I go through running shoes like crayons, and I’d bet you do too. Thankfully, Hollie Sick always has really helpful info for how to select the best shoes for you, and how you get get the most out of them after you bring them home.

For those of you who’ve only recently subscribed, Hollie is an accomplished runner — she’s run more than 50 half marathons, plus several marathons including last year’s (and this year’s) New York City Marathon — and works in a running store. So she knows what she’s talking about. (She also has a great newsletter you should check out!)

As always, ask away in the comments if you have any questions, or simply reply back to this email.

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How to get the most miles out of your running shoes

By Hollie Sick

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Running shoes are expensive and everyone wants to get the most of their shoes. When you take the appropriate care to your shoes, you are more likely to get the most mileage. It can be as easy as storing your shoes inside versus outside to extend the life.

You want to get in the routine of caring for your running shoes directly after your run or workout. That way, they will last longer. So, how can you get the most out of your shoes?

First, get the right shoes for the right things

If you buy a running shoe and use it for tennis, it’s not going to last long. If you buy a racing flat and run high mileage in it, it’s not going to last as long. Get the appropriate shoes for what you are using them for. Shopping locally and at a run specialty store can help you out. Staff can help guide you to the best shoes for your situation.

Clean your shoes (but not in the washer)

If your shoes get wet, don’t let them sit and fester. Leaving your shoes soaked actually causes the stitching and seams to deteriorate quickly. All you have to do post run is take a warm (not hot) rag and brush off excess mud and dirt.

Why not the washer? That’s because washing machines break the materials of a running shoe down, as well as stretch the shoe out.

How to dry shoes?

First, take the insoles out of the shoe and allow them to dry separately. Stuff the shoe with a newspaper which will soak up the remaining water. Keep the newspaper in for a few hours, then take out and allow the shoe to dry naturally to keep its shape.

Never put your shoes in the dryer. The heat in the dryer will break shoes down very quickly. It can often affect the glue of the shoe and a shoe runs the risk of falling apart in the dryer. Plus settings such as tumble dry will stretch a shoe out.

Store your shoes in a dry spot

It’s easy to put your shoes in the cold, wet, garage or store them on the porch outdoors. Plus, if they smell, you are more likely to store them outside too. Storing your shoes inside in room temperature, dry environment can sufficiently extend the life of the shoe.

All running shoe materials deteriorate. When you subject them to harsher elements, shoes are more likely to deteriorate faster. The cold, especially, can cause technology like EVA to harden up much faster. Who wants their favorite pair of soft shoes to become harder than a brick?

Let your shoes air out

If you put them in a box or plastic bag, they don’t get as much airflow. They become much smellier from sweat. Plus, if they stay wet for too long they are more likely to mold.  

By taking care of a running shoe, you can get significantly more mileage out of the shoe and who doesn’t want that?

What kind of running shoe should you wear when you’re not running?

As runners, we know the importance of proper footwear when getting out for a run, but what happens when we are not running? We spend most of our time not running and it’s that time that we should be taking extra care of our feet.

So what kind of footwear is best when we’re not running?

Supportive sandals

Yes, those $1 flip flops in every color but entice you, but there is little, to no, support. Look for a brand of flip-flops or sandals with support such as Oofos, Superfeet, Olkai, Birkenstock, Rainbow, or Reef.

That way your feet are well supported when you hit the beach or wherever you wear them. There are many new plantar fasciitis cases during the summer and that can usually be attributed to non-supportive sandals at the beach.

Give your feet room

To allow your feet to breathe, give them space in the shoe. Shoes that are too narrow cause you to be more susceptible to bunions, metatarsalgia, hammertoes, plantar fasciitis, and neuromas. Having a shoe that allows your toes to spread out as much as possible can relief that.

Bigger is better

Having too small of a shoe, whether it’s too narrow or too short causes more problems than if a shoe is a half size too big or wide. If you can find your favorite fashion shoe in wide, I almost always advise it.

Ladies, ditch the flats

Look for a brand with more cushion in the flat. It might not be as fashionable, but if your feet are happy, your body is happy. Pointy-toed flats cause many cases of bunions and if you let your bunions get too severe, you need surgery. Open-toed shoes can allow your feet to spread out more and relieve a lot of pain.

Pointy-toe high heels are the worst

Dress shoes with pointed toe boxes are one of the biggest problems and injury risks with dress shoes. High heels put more pressure on the forefoot, which makes your metatarsals more at risk for injury. Together with a narrow toe box, these shoes make you at risk for many different foot injuries that can keep you out of running.

Men: Get support for those dress shoes

Many brands now make an insert designed for dress shoes. The brand, Superfeet, which is designed for athletes also makes a dress shoe insert to keep your feet supported throughout the day.

If you can, keep a pair of comfortable shoes at your desk

If you are allowed to have comfortable shoes, keep them at your desk. That way, you can give your feet a break during the day.

Ultimately, find shoes with support and cushion

Finding shoes with support and cushion is the key. If you can get away with running shoes at work, by all means do it:  Your feet will be happier. Since most of us can’t get away with comfy shoes, finding shoes with more cushion is the key.

While running shoes are important for your feet, what you wear in the time you’re not running is equally as important.

A song to run to today

King of Pain” from the album Synchronicity by The Police.

Want to hear all the songs we include in our newsletters? Listen to the full playlist on Spotify here.

Photos courtesy Dreamstime.