Home Exercise 101 5 Tips for Taking Care of Your Running Shoes

5 Tips for Taking Care of Your Running Shoes

by Erika Nicole Kendall

Hi. Meet my most favoritest shoes ever.

The Asics Gel-Kinsei 4s. (That’s my personal affiliate link – if you use my link to check out the shoes, I get a few pennies.)

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I lived for these shoes. These shoes got me through all those rough winter runs. Enough traction to keep me upright on icy, wet ground; enough coverage on top to keep precipitation out of my shoe; enough cushioning to prevent me from feeling how many miles I’ve run; and enough colors to ensure that every color of the rainbow felt aptly represented? I lived for these shoes.

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And, because I treated them like the gods of epic running shoes that they were, those shoes lasted me all season. I actually shed tears at the thought of throwing them away – they’re my lucky shoes. Instead, I have them in a ziploc bag, underneath my bed. (I know, I know.)

Good running shoes aren’t that hard to come by, it’s true. But, when you find that pair of shoes that make you wanna holla, that make your feet, ankles, knees and hips sing and rejoice… you want to care for them as best as you can – not only because running shoes are pricey and no one wants to pony up the cash, but also because there’s an emotional attachment to a good pair of shoes, and you want to treat them well. I mean, they’re treating you well, right?

At any rate, whatever your favorite pair of shoes may be, here are five ways to treat your shoes well and ensure that your love affair lasts long, stays strong, and keeps your runs as focused as possible!

1) Your running shoes are running shoes. They are not errand shoes, they are not walking shoes, and — no — they aren’t cross-trainers, either. You spent good money on those running shoes. Don’t waste that by wearing them down doing other goofy mess. Your running shoes – the glory that they are – should be exalted – there is no running errands in your running shoes, unless you’re literally jogging from errand to errand.

Doing other things in your running shoes wears them down faster than they’d otherwise be worn down, which means you’d be wasting your money just to run errands far more comfortably than probably necessary. Every shoe brand makes an excellent shoe that can handle walking and errand running and cross-training, for that matter. Those shoes are also far cheaper than your running shoes. Don’t do it.

2) Un-lace your shoes to take them off – don’t peel them off your feet without untying them, and don’t use one foot to scrape your shoe off at the ankle. I used to do this all the time – I’d collapse on the couch, and use my big toe – while it’s still in my shoe – to scrape off my other shoe. I’d never unlace them, I’d never pull the tongue forward, none of that.

But then, I’d always wonder why my shoes were always jacking up my Achilles heel. I’d jacked up the backs of my shoes to the point where all they could do was dig into my heel when I ran and shred my skin like a cheese grater. Ugh.

I’m sure you can see how that’d ruin your run, to the point where you might have to either bandage up your entire heel, or replace your shoes. Nothing cuts my run short like feeling like the flesh on my heel is scraping against sandpaper.

3) Air-dry your shoes after every run. Take a skirt hanger, and clip each shoe at the ankle so that it can hang above your bathroom tub. A lot of times, the odors in your shoes come from bacteria from the combination of sweat, rain or snow water, and whatever else might’ve gotten in your shoes. While they may be built to handle what that can do to the inside of your shoes, there isn’t much a manufacturer can do about funk.

Giving your shoes the proper opportunity to dry will help them decrease the amount of bacteria that can collect inside them, thereby protecting your house from the phenomenon known as “foot funk.” You may not be the type to throw shoes away because they smell horribly, but someone else in your house might be… and I don’t know about you, but I always hate when I have to judo chop Eddy for trying to toss my funky running shoes.

Resist the urge to use a blow dryer, radiator, or clothing dryer to clean your shoes. They’re not built for that kind of heat, and not only can it warp the sole – thereby altering the way you run and potentially setting you up for injury – but it can also damage the fabric of the shoe, making it more susceptible to tearing while you run. Ever had to carry half your shoe home in your hand? No? Let’s keep it that way.

4) Clean off any debris – leftover mud, snow, whatever you might’ve stepped in – right when you get home. Excess stuff on the outside of your shoe can wear down the shoes fabric and its ability to protect your foot. Something as innocent as salt for sidewalks, fertilizer, or any other kind of soil treatment can wear down your shoes’. Not only that, but stepping in something unpleasant? It just gunks up your shoes in a way that makes you far more likely to toss them early. Some of the best advice I’d ever received said to take a nail brush and a teeny bit of Dr. Bronner’s soap (pick your own scent!) and lightly scrub your sole and outer shell. Hang them over the tub to dry.

5) Know when it’s time to let go. My Asics gave me a good 500 miles worth of devotion, but the moment I started to feel pain in my shins and knees, I knew it was because those babies had been worn down into submission. Good running shoes are fantastic and can typically give you anywhere from 300-500 miles… but when they aren’t so fantastic anymore, you start to feel it – not because it no longer feels like you’re running on cloud nine, but because you start to experience physical pain as a result of running in them. It makes sense for shoes to eventually lose that “cloud nine” feeling, if only because you get so used to it that it becomes less remarkable after time. To me, that’s normal. What’s not normal is for the same shoes, on the same running path, going the same distances to now cause shin pain, knee pain, or hip pain. That basically means the shoe isn’t doing its job any more of shock absorption and cushioning your foot the way you originally needed, and it’s time to hang ’em up.

Buuuut….if you follow my steps, here…your shoes should give you every last bit of love, loyalty, and epic runs!

How do you care for your favorite shoes?

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7 comments

Chemese March 22, 2014 - 8:21 AM

Thanks for the tips. I’m guilty of scrape my shoes off my feet.

Angela (@AquaGoddessDC) March 22, 2014 - 5:13 PM

Okay, all of these make great sense; however, I do wear my shoes all the time. In my defense, however, I bought my running shoes for doing fitness walking…with a very occasional jog breaking out every now and again…because that’s basically how I get around town, lol.

I will try my very best to untie and remove my shoes and not scrape them off moving forward, although this will be a huge learning curve for me. Glad I’m in good company (smile).

I’ll check out the Asics, too, as I’ve only ever worn Brooks since I began walking for races and fitness.

chasing joy March 27, 2014 - 12:58 PM

I guess i need to biuy 2 pair of shoes. 1 for running and another for cross training.

Cyn March 30, 2014 - 4:46 AM

I alternate shoes, gives them a chance to be cleaned off, air dry. So I buy my sneakers in pairs. I also find they last longer if I don’t run in them everyday. I have my MWF running sneakers & my TRS running sneakers.

This also allows me to buy two colors at once…

sherry May 9, 2014 - 6:18 AM

I have to break my habit of pulling my shoes off without unlacing first. I’m getting better but I still forget sometimes.

Denice November 6, 2014 - 4:07 PM

Its about time to retire my first pair of Asics. I will probably be “preserving” them in all their well-loved glory in a place of honor on my closet self. I have been guilty of using them for cross training but will have to find it in the budget to get a separate pair just for running when I go shopping for new shoes.

Erika Nicole Kendall November 6, 2014 - 4:22 PM

*whispers* I kept mine, too. 🙂

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