Friday, August 23, 2013

It's All About the Shoes...

Retired but just can't seem to part with them.
...running shoes, o'course!

Once or twice I've alluded to the importance of tracking how much mileage you're putting on your shoes so that you know about when you should be getting a new pair. Shoes are built to last only so long, depending on a bunch of factors: the type of shoe (e.g. cross trainer versus running shoe versus sport-specific shoe), how much you're using them, how much you weigh, the types of workouts you're doing. Most "experts" recommend that runners should retire their shoes at around 400 to 500 miles, or approximately every 640 to 800 km. 

I read somewhere awhile ago (sorry, can't remember where) that unexpected soreness in your ankles or legs after runs may be one early sign that your shoes are ready to give. As an example, I retired my last few pairs at around 760 km, although I probably should have let them go a little earlier than that.

New and shiny... and no
longer in my possession.
I've been tracking the wear on my current shoes and am currently at 595 km, so I decided to treat myself to a new pair now instead of waiting like I did the last few times. One problem with not having retired a pair in awhile (the last pair I gave up in August 2012 after marathon #3): I was in the store and couldn't remember my size... and I'm really little (smaller than size 6 women's), which compounds the shoe sizing problem. 

So I came home, unintentionally, with new runners a half-size larger than my last few pairs. But - and here's a shoe-buying tip for you - I decided to try them out on the treadmill (not outdoors) with my insoles and regular running socks to see if they'd work. Sadly, they did not. Back to the store I went, regrettably, to return my new and shiny purchase.

I called around, trying to find a size in my specific shoe (Asics Gel 1100-series, now the GT-1000s) but alas, no luck. One store had my exact size, but in a different Asics Gel series: the GT-2000s. I figured, why not? Might as well give it a go.

Please fit!
I've now got the second new pair in hand (foot?) but haven't yet run in them. However, I did put them on at home and, given a brief direct compare with my last pair of shoes (while wearing my insoles and socks, of course), I'm feeling pretty optimistic. Fingers crossed they'll work out.

Here are a few general tips for shoes and shoe buying in general:

  • Running shoes are meant to feel great from the get-go. There should be no need for a "breaking in" period. If you feel like you're trying to "break in" your new pair of shoes, chances are, they're not the right shoes for you.
  • Be sure to leave a little bit of toe space. Why? Well, if you've ever had a black toenail and/or had one fall clean off... that's why. (It's only ever happened to me once! Knock on wood it doesn't happen again.) One way to check if you have enough space for your toes is to run down a slight incline. If your toes are being smushed up against the front of the shoe, try the next half-size or size up and see if that pair is more comfortable. 
  • Track your gear and pick up new shoes well before you need to retire your old ones. If you've been keeping up your running regimen but find that you're feeling more achy than usual after standard distance runs, you likely need a new pair.
  • Don't take my word for it. If you're not sure whether you're buying shoes that are right for you, pop into a local running store and ask for help - that's what they're there for! 

P.S. I have a post that I've been meaning to write for months about "reading" the wear patterns on your shoes. Obviously, I haven't written that one yet. Hopefully now that I've mentioned it, I'll feel obliged to do it... soon. 


  1. are the new shoes working out for you?

    1. I took them out for 29 km over the weekend, and they held up fine! Perhaps a little tight in the toes, but I'll manage; I think the next size up would be too big. C'est la vie.