Gotta Run: Tips for taking care of your wet shoes

Published 12:00 am Sunday, October 2, 2016

How many times have you ended a run with pair of wet shoes? Or worse yet, what if they were still wet the next day when you wanted to go run again? Or the worst, what if you are traveling and your shoes get wet and they have to remain in the motel room to hopefully dry out during the day? All of these have happened to me.

I will share a few things that I do to dry my shoes as quickly as possible. Summer is easier because you can put them outside and dry them easily unless it is a rainy day. But suppose that you can’t put them outside and that you have to get the shoes dry in order to use them again in 24 hours.

Shoes are expensive, at least the good ones are. First thing, they can’t go in the dryer. The glues that hold the shoes together will break down under extreme heat, and they can also lose cushioning. The only time that a pair of running shoes would go in the dryer is after they are past the mileage limits when shoes have normally broken down, usually somewhere between 300 and 500 miles. That is when they become best for casual wear before being relegated to yard or barn shoes.

If it is raining hard outside, the best option might be to go with your best pair of secondary shoes. Most runners have their second best and even a third best pair waiting in the wings for use if necessary. Oversoaked shoes from rain are much different from the damp shoes that come from sweating in the shoes. However, a long run in warm and humid conditions can soak shoes, too, but since most runs are of a somewhat lesser distance, drying is easier on non-raining days.

When the shoes are wet, a great way to dry them is to find out if your refrigerator has a fan that is venting low-volume warm air near the floor. If it does, then laying your shoes on the side in front of that warm air is the easiest way to dry them. I recently read about a friend who bought a small fan and pointed it toward her shoes. She put the fan and the shoes against a wall in a cool area and the drying didn’t work well. Another more focused low-volume fan did work. Just leaning the shoes against the wall and pointing the fan properly works, and a warm area helps to speed up the process.

In absence of a fan, wad up newspaper and put it in the shoes. I am always amazed at how quickly the newspaper draws out the wetness. Always take out the insoles ahead of putting the newspaper in. Swap out the newspaper about four hours later if the shoes are really soaked.

The longer the shoes stay wet without some kind of treatment, the better the chance that odor will become an issue. And the more times that the odor is noticeable, the harder it is to rid the shoes of that odor even if they dry out well. The very best way I have found to treat the odor issue is to insert a high-quality, unused drier sheet in the shoes as soon after exercise as possible. The second best way is to give each shoe a shot of Febreze when the drying begins. I am sure that this idea got started with one of my ex-wives, but it does work well.

Some of us are always on the lookout for our next pair of shoes. Consider the possibility of buying two pair and alternating them especially over the cold weather months. Some runners buy the next pair when the first is about halfway through its expected life and start alternating them then.

As a veteran of close to 250 running shoe purchases, I hope these ideas help. If all else fails, my emergency plan includes inserting the hair drier on low volume into the wet shoe. This works in a motel, too, but don’t get too far away. The smell of overcooked rubber isn’t all that pleasant.

Next Saturday’s VAEA 5K at the VA complex is set to roll, and all the information is at . I hope to see you there.

David Freeze is a nationally certified running coach and president of the Salisbury Rowan Runners. Contact him at Learn more at