Friday, April 27, 2012

When to Retire Running Shoes

I have a shoe problem.  I love Brooks running shoes and I run a lot of miles.  One problem I have had over the past five years of running is when should I retire my running shoes?  Here is my problem:


This is what I found in my front closet this morning.  Six pairs of Brooks Launches, one pair of Brooks PureFlows, and two pairs of Brooks Ghosts.  Supposedly, this is what is in my current rotation as my retired shoes are either in my closet upstairs or out in the garage.  My husband is also training for a marathon so we have three pairs of his shoes in the same closet.  (My closet is not very large.)

My shoe experience goes a little something like this.  I supinate, terribly!  Take a look at the bottom of my Ghosts.


These shoes have around 200 miles on them.  I have physical issues with my foot that causes me to roll out like I do.  My left shoe does not wear down like my right as my left foot isn't as messed up.  Because, I wear out the outside of my shoes badly, I tend to retire my shoes after 250-300 miles.  (I am tall and weigh more than the average female runner, therefore this may be low compared to most.)

Making the decision that my shoes are done is where I have my problem.  I am always worried that I am retiring my shoes too early and am wasting a good pair of shoes.  I have read you KNOW when your shoes are worn out.  You feel it in your knees, ankles, feet, etc.  I feel like at 250 miles, I am hitting this point.  I start feeling it in my knees and hips.  I convince myself that I made the correct decision when I put my new pair of shoes on and the little kinks are no longer there.  The new shoes feel wonderful and my runs feel great once again.

But what to do with the old shoes?  Shoes are not cheap at all.  I spend at least $200-$300/training cycle.  Running 3-4 marathons a year puts me at $1000 for shoes.  Writing this down makes my heart sink.  I love running and I know being on the road saves me both physically and mentally.  I need running.  I tend to save the shoes that I know hurt my legs, because it is hard to let go.  I do use my older shoes for cross training such as biking, spinning, and strength training.  Occasionally I will put on an old pair for short runs. But, I don't usually run less than 6 miles, so short runs are very rare. So why am I holding onto these shoes?

Luckily, running Vermont City Marathon every year gives me an excuse to get rid of shoes.  They have a booth where you can donate your old shoes and we take advantage of it every year by dropping off 10-15 pairs.  So, thanks to this post, I have removed four of those pairs of shoes and will put them in the To Be Donated Box.  If you are looking for somewhere to donate your old shoes, here is a Runners World link that lists many organizations that take old running shoes.

And I have also been told that you should have 75-100 miles on your shoes that you plan to run a marathon in, so these guys are halfway ready for Vermont.


How do you know when your shoes need to be retired and how many miles do you get on a pair of shoes?  Do you donate your old shoes?

**Don't forget to sign up to win an entry to a Danskin Triathlon in my giveaway this week!

23 comments:

Michele @ nycrunningmama.com said...

I am like you - typically 250 miles and I feel it. I donate my shoes to a local Catholic Church that gives them to people in need. I always have 3 pairs. The current pair I'm wearing, and the next most 2 most recent ones I've worn. I always like to keep the 2 extra in case I run in the rain or my son hides my shoes and I can't find them (has happened on TWO occasions so far!).

Running Daddy said...

Oh the problems of you "traditional" running shoe runners... yet another reason I love my minimalist shoes. I've put over 600 miles on my first pair of Vibram Five Fingers, and based on wear, I'm guessing I've got at least another 100-200 to go. With no extra padding to wear out, I only have to worry when the rubber is completely worn through

Samantha said...

I get about the same amount of miles on my shoes as you do! I also mostly wear the Saucony Kinvaras, which wear a bit quicker. I'm rotating two pairs of those and one pair of Mirages right now.

I keep my shoes - I have one pair under my desk at work for lunch break walks, I have another pair I wear for yard work, and another pair I wear to the gym on days I'm only there to lift!

Jess said...

I am NOT great at retiring my shoes...well that's not necessarily true, I guess I just don't ever rotate. I wear the same pair until my knees basically tell me they need new sneaks for support. not exactly the most precise science now is it? I really, REALLY need to buy a pair to start rotating through once I start marathon training in June. I think after my half on May 6,I'll buy another pair of ghosts (my fave!) so I can start rotating with my current pair (which aren't very old yet, thankfully). Maybe it's just getting into that habit is all I need to do?

RunTheLongRoad said...

i'm the same as you. i can FEEL when i need to buy a new pair. it's usually 1 new pair for every (marathon) training cycle.

all my older shoes are taking up way too much space in my closet. i'm going to check out that link. thanks!

Misszippy1 said...

Did you happen to see my post yesterday? All about my excess of shoes!

Anyhow, since I've switched to minimalist shoes, I don't worry about the wearing down as much, simply b/c there's much less to break down and I'm not dependent on it. So that's no help to you at all, is it?

Pavement Runner said...

I am in the same boat. I always forget when I start a new pair... just this week, I started to get some knee pains and knew I had run too many miles in my existing pair. Put a new pair on the next day and knee pain was next to nothing. I really need to make a mark on my running calendar. Great post, great share.

Laura said...

I always look for a place to donate or recycle shoes, too. My husband likes to get rid of clutter, so at most I usually have 5-6 pairs floating around. I've always changed them out every 4 months or so, but after reading Born to Run I'm testing the theory that older shoes are actually better (more minimalist) and am continuing to rotate in old ones to see how they feel. It's an experiment, so we'll see!

Shira said...

Robin, it looks like your collection of Brooks have seen a lot of great miles! since I'm not a runner, but am very active, I usually go by months instead of miles and depending on my fitness routine will get anywhere from eight to 12 months from a good pair of shoes. and yes, donating them is always a great idea. The footwear store I use collects old pairs and for ones that might be more gently used, I donate them to Soles4Souls, a wonderful relief organization for people in need. Have fun at the Vermont City Marathon!

Jolene said...

I have that exact pair (the last one) of Brooks. So funny! I actually worry I retire mine when they aren't ready either. I am so used to sneakers needing to 'look' old and dirty and beat up for them to be 'done.' But that's not the case. I tend to keep them to wear for non-running (errands and such). It's hard to part ways!!

Jen said...

I tend to retire my shoes when running seems off in them - perhaps that a little too late to retire them - but I really think the shoes will tell me when they are done! I do donate them but sometimes I just keep them for errand running or Jillian Michaels DVDs!

Jjrrstrand said...

Good post Robin! OK-I supinate slightly with my right foot too which I more recently discovered after my fibula--not SUPER severe perhaps but just on that leg ..... My SF in my hip, my fibula by my ankle, my glute, hamstring issues....Anyway, I retire my shoes after 275 miles or so. I dropped the super light shoes and I've moved into the Ghost and the Launch exclusively. There is a running store in Fargo that I sometimes drop shoes off at but I currently have a HUGE bag of retired shoes.

On a side note, Laurie and I are BOTH going to be in Boston 2013!!!! Hope to see you there!

Christyruns said...

I used to just have one pair a year, then it was two, last year three, and this year I currently have six in rotation and am keeping track do mileage on them for the first time. I didn't always run this much, so one a year used to be okay? I was just looking at my shoes last night trying to decide if I should retire some. I usually get 500+ miles on my shoes with no problems.

MomsLittleRunningBud said...

retiring them isn't my problem, it's the getting rid of them. I have so many shoes that have been retired that I just can't part with. I need to get them all together and take them to the donation box. Good call!

Liana said...

Nike in Boston I think in theory is suppose to accept old shoes for their charity; I've been hoarding mine in a giant bag in the closet. http://www.nikereuseashoe.com/get-involved/drop-off-locations?country=US&zip=02148&state=&x=0&y=0

I destroy my sneaks in like 250-300 miles as well which adds up the cost really fast. I try to belong it but I always just seem to pay it with a knee pain or hip or something. When I only ran 5-6 miles at a time on a treadmill my shoes used to live forever until the sides fell out. I guess more mileage requires better support.

Brenna Kate Simonds said...

Now that I sent you a

Brenna Kate Simonds said...

Oops, it didn't let me finish :) Now that I sent you a picture of my shoes on Twitter, I can comment! The picture is of the shoes I retired last week, my 2nd pair of Saucony Hurricanes v. 13, I believe. I'm in my 3rd pair now. My first pair, I ran in for over 500 miles (probably closer to 600). It was the first pair I ran in consistently enough to track the miles. I was OK for those 500 miles till the end when I threw out my back. My new shoes came right after and helped me with the pain while I hobbled around the house. The shoes were all worn out in the inside, but the outside looked evenly worn, if I remember correctly (my friend has them in her car to recycle them).

With my 2nd pair in 1/2 size bigger (toe pain and black toe nails!), I felt as if they were done right under 300 miles, but I could not justify the expense of retiring them so early. The picture I sent you is of those shoes. I finally retired them last week when I started getting arch pain. And look how unevenly they wore out! My physical therapist pointed it out. My right hip flexor is super tight and he believes it's affecting my stride and thus my shoe wear. This has apparently happened since I started running in that 2nd pair of shoes.

After I wear these out, I plan on going to get fitted again because my stride has clearly changed. Do you get fitted regularly, or just stick with favorites?

Brenna Kate Simonds said...

And also, why multiple pairs of shoes? Why not wear one until they wear out? My serious awesome running friend Connilee (who yesterday won the first ultra she entered!) has multiple shoes too :) I always forget to ask her why!

robinbn said...

I am the worst about tracking miles on my shoes. I always say I am going to log them and even start to in Dailymile but it never works.

robinbn said...

I am loving all the love for the Ghosts. I was scared to switch to them this year and really like them so far. And I wish I could say it is easy to remember to rotate shoes, but I am terrible at it! :)

robinbn said...

Those Kinvaras look so cute, I'd be sad to get rid of those as well. :)

Beth U. said...

I know exactly what you mean. I have about 6 pairs of shoes in the rotation now and am constantly on the quest for the "perfect" shoe. I have some heel and Achilles issues that flare up on runs longer than 16-18 miles, so I keep thinking that there has to be a pair of shoes out there that won't make my foot hurt on long runs. I'll keep searching!

RunningMandy said...

I donate my shoes to my local running store's soles program.

My husband looks at me like I'm crazy because I have 3 pairs of shoes in rotation. I'll have to show him your blog. LOL!