When it comes to running shoes, many of us will try and get as much mileage as possible out of a pair – after all, they can be pretty pricey to replace. However, the potential injury risk from worn out shoes is seldom worth the extra couple of kays. I’ve used my own old Asics as an example of ways to determine if your shoes need to be replaced.
The upper is the part of the running shoe that encloses the foot and keeps the shoe together with help from the lacing. As you can see in the photo, my shoes have holes where my baby toes are – either they were a size too small to begin with, too narrow for my foot or my toes point upwards when I run.
The midsole is the thickest piece of foam and sits between the upper and the outsole. The midsole is particularly important because it helps shock absorption when the foot lands, and is the part of the shoe that is used when your foot pushes off the ground. As a result of wear and tear, you can often see wrinkles in the foam of the midsole.
The outsole is the thin layer of rubber on the outside of the shoe. It has direct contact with the surface you run on and shows the first signs of wear and tear.
You can see how mine has worn on the outside on the left shoes – I never used to experience this but after being diagnosed with Deep Vein Thrombosis and blood clots in my left calf and then tearing the tendon in this ankle last year that took 3 months to heal, my running style has changed significantly. As a result, I am striking more on this side of my foot which has led to this part of the shoe wearing quickly.
Even though you can often see the wear and tear on your running shoes, the best advice is to be aware of red flags like a burning sensation under your feet, more blisters, your shoes feeling flat or hard, and irritations like niggly ankles and shins or calves.
Start listening to and really “feel” your body while you run to determine if your shoes need replacing – mileage is not the only factor you should consider. Your running style, body weight, injuries, operations, the amount and type of training, and the surface you run on will all affect how long your shoes last.
There are a number of experts around who can assist you to select the correct shoes for your running style and in the correct size. My best recommendations for shoe fittings and assessments in the 3 major centres in SA are:
- Mike Roscoe from SBR in Sunninghill, Johannesburg
- Poobie Naidoo’s Sports wholesalers in KZN (PMB and Ballito)
- Grant Bryant from the RUN in Cape Town
Christine is a running coach and nutrition specialist based with Sole Buddies #LiveLife in Cape Town. She is also the co-anchor for the GerhardandChristineLiveLife podcast, and co-founder of For The Long Run, a social upliftment project and registered NPO in Fisantekraal. Read more about Sole Buddies here.