There are plenty of options when it comes to running footwear, a $3 billion market. With so many choices, there's something for just about every harrier out there, whether it's cushioning, support, extra width or some other feature. This is why you shouldn't suffer through running hundreds of miles in a pair of shoes that aren't working for you, nor should you overstay your body's welcome in a pair that is well past its prime. If you aren't sure whether it's time to break up with your current pair and start anew, here are the five red flags.
Aches and Pains in New Shoes
Whether you've run 5 or 50 miles in a new pair of shoes, if you encounte new and different injury issues since you started wearing the new footwear, it may be time to go back to the drawing board. With today's running shoe technology, there should be little or no break-in time for a new pair of kicks. If they don't feel great right out of the box, they likely won't feel any better a few miles down the road.
While the root cause of injury is often hard to pin down, if you started feeling pain around the same time you picked up a particular pair of shoes, they may be the culprit. Many running specialty shops have generous return policies, so before you pitch the shoes, head back to the store and see if you can strike a deal to exchange them.
Aches and Pains in Old Shoes
Although your favorite pair of running shoes may have felt great all summer, if you're at the end of the shoe's life, new issues can arise. Sore knees, feet and hips can be telltale signs that the cushioning and support built into the shoe has worn down to the point of no longer being effective. While it can be difficult to tell simply by looking at the midsole or outsole, your body will tell you when it's time to move on.
One of the most important reasons to keep track of mileage is to monitor the life of your shoes. Most running footwear has a life of 300 to 500 miles, depending on the runner and the particular model. Since we land with nearly four times our body weight and strike the ground somewhere around 1,500 times in just 10 minutes of running, our shoes take quite a beating. By knowing how many miles you've run in your shoes and replacing them at regular intervals, you skirt a number of easily avoidable potential issues.
Just about every runner has had a blister at some point in his or her career. Wet or excessively humid conditions can play a role, as can the type of socks you wear. If, however, you've worn your shoes in more moderate weather and have tried various pairs of moisture-wicking socks and you're still developing pesky blisters, it may mean that your shoes simply don't fit correctly. This could be a result of the footwear being too narrow or wide, or can be an issue with a seam or overlay rubbing the same spot over many miles. Blisters can also develop if your shoes are old and stretched past the point of optimal fit.
The latest research on running shoes suggests that comfort is king when it comes to selecting the best pair for your feet. This means that everything from the toe box to the arch to the heel should feel as if it's functioning like a part of your foot. If it feels like the shoe is working against the natural motion of your foot or they just plain hurt when you run, it's time to look for a new footwear solution. Keep in mind that this applies when you first put the shoes on in the store, so jog around a bit before heading to the register to make sure they are the most comfortable shoes for the job.race.