Getting the Most Out of Your Running Shoes

When my sister announced last week that she was ready to run a 5K, I decided to purchase her first pair of real running shoes. She has screws in her knee from a softball injury when she was 18 and I wanted to make sure that she had the best support so that she doesn’t risk further injury.

Good running shoes are so important when running long distances. In fact, I think part of the reason I was injured during the 12 miler was that I was wearing “dead” shoes. Good running shoes should give you the right support you need to help prevent injuries. You should also make sure that you are properly fitted for the shoe for you.

Since running shoes can be a bit pricey ($80 – $150), you want to make sure you take care of them. Here are some tips I learned along the way.

  • When getting fitted for your shoe, make sure you go to a place where you can test them on the treadmill.
  • Running shoes typically last 300 – 500 miles
  • Running shoes are for running. Do not workout in them. Do not walk in them. Do not go to the grocery store in them, etc., if you want them to last.  When you do anything else but run in them, you start to eat away at the integrity of the shoe and you will wear them out faster.
  • Air out shoes after a run.
  • If you run in the rain or snow, take out the insoles and put balled up newspaper in the shoes to absorb the moisture. Do not put them in the dryer.
  • Do not put your shoes in the washer either. Use a soft bristle brush to scrub them if you need to.
  • The fit should be comfortable – meaning snug but not tight. There should be a little play or room in the forefoot. When standing, allow about a thumb’s width between your toes and the end of the shoe. There is no consistency to running shoe sizing. In general, you’ll tend to need a larger size than your dress shoe size. It is okay for women to wear men’s shoes and men women’s if it helps you get a better fit (as a general rule, there is a size and a half difference, so, for example, an 11 women’s would be a men’s 9). (
  • When you’re in a rush, it’s tempting to try to take your running shoes on and off without undoing the laces. Make sure you loosen the laces before you put your shoes on and take them off, UNLESS you are using elastic or bungee shoe laces (HINT – Be on the lookout for the next giveaway).
  • Buy fresh and local. Let’s hear it for our local running specialty stores!  They work hard and keep a constant flow of fresh shoes in store. Seriously, buying a discounted shoe may seem like a great idea for the pocketbook at the time, but it could have been sitting in a warehouse for years. Time also wears on the shoe life.
  • Celebrate the birth date. Mark the purchase date of the shoes on the side of your shoes (yes, this is a picture of my shoes) with a permanent marker. Then keep track of the mileage on that shoe in an online or paper log. Knowledge is power, and learning the wear of each pair of shoes can help determine which brand and style work best for you. (
  • Rotate shoes – I’ve heard that this is a myth, but I found some reliable resources saying that training with two pairs of shoes gives your shoes a “break” and decompress. Whether it’s true or not, I don’t know, but I did this last year and it worked for me. I didn’t do it this year as my shoes are being discontinued and I’m wishing I had.

I’m sure there are more tips out there and would love to have the readers comment on what they do to make their shoes last longer, so please let us know…what do YOU do to get the most out of your running shoes?


4 thoughts on “Getting the Most Out of Your Running Shoes

  1. Very good advice. The purchase date of my shoe isn’t always the same time I start to use them – I rotate between my old and new shoes for a gradual change – but I like the idea of using a sharpie to write the date. I do know that I’m due for new shoes in the coming weeks. I really don’t want to run my marathon with old shoes!

    I also make sure to check out the tread on my shoes and look for “warning signs” of improper wear. I’ve been told by the shoe fitters at my local Fleet Feet that most of the wear should be near the midfoot/ball of feet area.

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