FOOT MILEAGE: What is the Odometer Reading on Your Running Shoes?

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by John Ruibal

One of the first questions I ask when a runner has concerns about injuries, feels tightness or has just a little pain in a joint or muscle is, “How many miles do you have on your running shoes?” Many people don’t realize that running shoes have a limited mileage; after a certain number of miles, the cushioning breaks down, which can leave you vulnerable to soreness and injury.

Many running shoes like the ones you find at most specialty running stores will last 400 – 500 miles before they are completely broken down. Depending on how hard you are on your shoes, you may find that your legs may start “talking to you” after you have around 250 miles on the odometer.

There are some things you can do to get that full 400-500 miles out of your running shoes.

One technique is to have more than one pair of the same shoe and alternate the pair every other workout. This will extend the life of both pairs to 400-500 miles each.

A technique that I like to use is to put about 200-250 miles on a pair of new shoes using them for the key workouts during the week. Key workouts are the workouts you run at a faster pace, like tempo workouts and track workouts. Long runs on the weekend are also considered a key workout. When I hit 200-250 miles with my “key workout” pair, I’ll start using those shoes for my easy workouts and buy a new pair to run my key workouts. This technique has worked for me over two decades and has kept me running with minimal injuries.

If you are planning to run a fall or winter marathon and have been training since the summer, now is a good time to check the mileage on your shoes. If you have more than 250 miles on your running shoes, this would be a good time to consider getting a new pair to get you through the next phase of training leading up to your goal race. Be sure to get fitted for your new pair at a running store that will take the time to get you in the correct shoe for your foot type, foot strike and running form.

One final thought about running shoes and training for specific events. You may have figured out that running is as much about mental training as it is physical training. The shoes you race in should only have a few miles on them prior to you getting to the starting line. I recommend getting the shoes you will race in about three weeks prior to your race. I also suggest putting 25 or so miles on your new shoes and then putting them back in the box until race day.

Mentally, when you get those new shoes out the day before your race, your mindset will change, and you will start to focus on that goal that you have trained so hard for. Then on race day when you slip into your new shoes, you will be ready to run. There is nothing like putting on that new pair of running shoes and being ready to run.

iRunJohn Ruibal is a registered dietitian who is board-certified in sports nutrition from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. He coordinates the distance running classes available through both iRun Texas locations in San Antonio. He has been running for more than 40 years and coaching for 25. To contact John or learn more about his classes, visit www.iruntexas.net.

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