Part 3 of this series revealed how runners can create an injury-proof body. Part 4 shows you how to get your running gear ready for the spring training and racing season.
We're not sure if running and hoarding have a symbiotic relationship, but many runners do seem to have a hard time getting rid of stinky shoes, sweat-stained shirts, and sagging shorts. Here's help.
The guideline of 300 to 500 miles per pair is a good generality, but Michael Aish, co-owner of the Boulder Running Company Denver Tech Center, is more concerned with how hard you wear the shoes. "If you hit the ground with a clomp and run mostly on concrete, your shoes will have a much shorter shelf-life than if you barely hear your landing and you spend a bunch of time on the treadmill," says Aish.
Read our list of the 100 Best Running Shoes, Ever to see what kind of shoe works for you.
If the elastic is so worn that the sock bunches up, you risk getting blisters. Extra-thin fabric on key pressure areas—under the ball of your foot, say—means you're missing out on cushioning. "Fit is key with socks," says Aish. "If your heel isn't fully covered because the fabric is stretched out, you're asking for trouble. Get rid of them."
High-impact exercise accelerates the stretching of all the components of the bra that provide support. "A good general rule is that a bra lives for no more than a year if you wear it three to four times a week," says LaJean Lawson, Ph.D., an exercise scientist and expert in sports bra design. D cups may need to be replaced earlier. See the Best New Sports Bras for our picks that cover all cup sizes.
You might need to toss your bottoms if the elastic in the underwear liner is slack; if the words on the care label are so faded you can't read them; if you have to use the string in the waistband to keep them up—or if the string is MIA.
How Real Runners Organize Their Running Gear
So you've weeded through everything, but how do you organize your clothing, shoes, food, and accessories for easy, neat access? We asked Runner's World readers for their best suggestions. (Plus, for some wacky but innovative running gear that works, read our list of Weird Gear With Results.)