Gotta Run: When is the right time to get new shoes?

Published 3:42 pm Sunday, March 28, 2021

Our latest beginning runners class is going very well. Attendance is up from the fall and it is sure exciting that spring is here. I always think that spring and optimism are synonymous, they just seem to go together.

Here is another thing that goes with the beginning of spring. Over and over during this past week, I’ve talked with individual clients about shoe issues and the topic of last week’s group class was also shoes. Most runners have been inside more during the winter and are ready to move their training outside. Those who are primarily outside runners are ready to shed a few layers and are likely to think about running faster or farther in the better weather.

One particular client, Heather Fidler, is just beginning her running journey. She’s walking first and went out to get new shoes. Midway through the first workout, she knew she had the wrong ones. Her first solution was to return to an older pair for now and then move forward when the time is right. Hopefully her second solution will be to listen to my advice on how to get the right shoes. Back to this shortly.

From my experience, here are the ways you know if you are ready for new shoes. For sure, if you are still running or walking in shoes that you do yard work in, it is definitely time! Or the shoes are so old that you can’t remember where you bought them, its time. If your feet or joints or muscles start to hurt and medical problems can be ruled out, then its definitely time to look at new shoes. Look at wear patterns on the bottom of the shoes. If they are worn down across the shoe, or much more worn in certain areas, go visit the shoe store.

Over time, we all forget the feeling of how cushioned or responsive they were in the beginning. Sometimes, if you think the shoes just don’t have any bounce (that’s what responsive really means), consider new ones. But don’t jump the gun if tired legs have caused the lack of bounce. It likely will feel about the same.

Some experts suggest changing your running shoes every 500 miles. This advice is too generic because shoe life varies based on more than just distance; how heavy you are, how hard you run, your foot strike, and how old the shoes are (different from how many miles they have) all matter. Shoes can dry out over time and lose their shock absorption and resiliency. A pair of shoes is not still new while still sitting unused in a dark closet for two years. Believe it or not, I’ve heard that comment many times.

Another mistake casual runners make is to run in poorly fitted or worn-out shoes. We had 22 beginners in class last Tuesday night and I bet each of them has a story about what they think of their shoes. My experience with most beginners is that they just don’t put much thought into shoes, likely as Heather did. She looked for a nice color for cheap at a shoe chain. Don’t do either one.

Another great way to know if you need new shoes is to take them with you to the running shoe store and compare how they feel to a brand-new pair. If the new shoes feel more cushioned, supportive or stable, then you know you need new ones.

If not already there, make the jump to quality shoes. Go to a quality running store and get fitted for the right size shoe and those that match your need for neutral or stability shoes. Match your running goals to the shoe. This goes for all runners. Salisbury’s running store is Ralph Baker Shoes. Get the best shoes and a proper fitting from a staff trained to do just that. Ralph Baker Shoes recently won SRR’s 2021 Corporate Partner of the Year for all their support of local runners.

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