At $100 or more a pop, good running shoes aren’t cheap, so you want them to last as long as possible. While you’ll still need to replace your sneaks after you’ve logged between 300 and 500 miles to prevent injury, you may be able to stretch that timeline a bit by taking proper care of your running shoes.
Sarah Bowen Shea, co-founder of the runners’ site Another Mother Runner and co-author of Tales of Another Mother Runner (March 2015), shares her tips on how to get more mileage out of your running shoes.
1. Wear them only when you run. Get the most life out of your running shoes by using them for their sole purpose: running. “Don’t run errands in your running shoes,” warned Shea. “Do not wear them to your kid’s soccer game or walking 10 miles around Disneyland. My running shoes are for running and that’s it.” If you love your running shoes so much that you want to wear them everywhere, get a second pair for errands.
2. Skip the washing machine and dryer. If your well-loved shoes reek from sweat or are covered in mud from a trail run, don’t toss them in the washing machine. It puts too much wear and tear on the shoes, noted Shea. (And it makes an enormous racket!) Spot clean instead with a scrub brush or old toothbrush, and if possible, remove and wash the sockliner or insole if it’s stinky. “Never put shoes in dyer,” said Shea. If they get wet, stuff newspaper in them to absorb the water and let them dry overnight.
3. Rotate your shoes. Alternating your running shoes with another pair will help them last longer. “The cushion in your shoes gets compressed so if you give it more than 24 hours to bounce back, you’re going to get more mileage out of shoes,” said Shea. “Otherwise, it will get pounded down. Just like you give your body a rest day, you should give your shoes a rest.” Hey, we’re giving you an excuse to buy more shoes here.
4. Protect them from the elements. The materials in running shoes are vulnerable to extreme heat and cold — though mostly heat, which can change the shoe’s shape. “Let’s say you like to run at lunchtime and you keep running shoes in the trunk of your car and live in Arizona,” theorized Shea. “They will break down faster than if you live in Minnesota and keep them in your mud room where it’s a constant 65 degrees.” In general, try to store your shoes in a cool, dry place. Treat your running shoes well and they’ll treat you well right back.