How to make running shoes last longer: top tips to keep your footwear on the trails
A guide to taking care of your running footwear for the benefit of your bank balance – and the environment
It a perfect world, we would choose a pair of running shoes and then wear them forever. This would save us all a lot of money and also be of benefit to the environment, since the more we can reduce the impact of manufacturing products, such as footwear, the lower the impact of carbon dioxide emissions on climate change.
However, in reality, if you run, you will wear out your running shoes. Discover in this article how you can make running shoes last longer.
Keeping track of the longevity of a running shoe will help you to decide which brand and model will last the longest. You could keep a note in your diary of when you started wearing the shoes or even write the date somewhere on the footwear (in a long-lasting marker pen).
If you keep track of where and how far you have worn the shoe – running apps like Strava (opens in new tab) or Runkeeper (opens in new tab) can log your mileage – and how the shoe has withstood wear and tear, it will allow you to make the right choice when it comes to buying the best trail running shoes for you.
Reserve them for running
Running shoes are meant for running and if you wear them for other activities, such as strolling on pavements or tarmac, you’ll end up wearing them out much faster. All the extra miles that you walk in the shoes, play games with the kids, take the dog to the park etc will have an impact on longevity.
Wear trail shoes for trails…
And road running shoes for tarmac. Running shoes are made for different terrain and they all last longer if you wear them for their intended terrain. For example, trail running shoes with a more aggressive tread will last longer when used in softer mud and in the hills rather than on tarmac.
Keep them clean and dry
It’s a good idea to gently clean your running shoes, especially if you have been trail running in muddy and wet conditions.
The fabric will last longer if it’s kept cleaner and if you can dry out your running shoes between runs it means you will reduce the chance of them becoming so smelly that you can no longer stand to have them in the house or wear them.
Do not machine wash
There are runners who swear by washing their smelly running shoes in the washing machine but this will only cause the materials to break down. Likewise, the tumble drier will not be good for your favourite trail running shoes.
More tips to make your running shoes last longer
Protect shoes from the elements
Try not to leave your shoes outdoors for too long in hot sunshine or very drying conditions. Also, don’t leave them outside in the rain. The best place to store your running shoes, once dry, is in a cool indoor place with lots of air around them.
Rotate your shoes
There is a theory that if you rotate two pairs of running shoes it will give each pair the best chance of lasting longer. This might sound odd because you are still going to end up doing the same amount of miles in each pair, but if you allow running shoes to recover between training runs they will last a bit longer. By recovery, we mean you let the shoes properly dry out and also reform (ie the cushioning and insoles).
How you run can affect the lifetime of a running shoe. Aim to run with light feet and a shorter cadence. Watch how professional athletes run and see what their form and running gait is like. This will help you to run at a better pace, too.
Running shoes, including trail running shoes, are not defined to last forever – and there are plenty of tips for knowing when to replace your running footwear – but if you take care of your shoes, you will end up getting more miles out of them. This is good for your finances and for the planet.
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Fiona Russell is a widely published adventure journalist and blogger, who is better known as Fiona Outdoors. She is based in Scotland and is an all-round outdoors enthusiast with favourite activities including trail running, mountain walking, mountain biking, road cycling, triathlon and skiing, both downhill and back country. Her target for 2021 is to finish the final nine summits in her first round of all 282 Munros, the Scottish mountains of more than 3,000ft high. Aside from being outdoors, Fiona's biggest aim is to inspire others to enjoy the great outdoors, especially through her writing. She is also rarely seen without a running skort! Find out more at Fiona Outdoors (opens in new tab).