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Your running shoes are the only connection your body makes with the ground, so each step creates a lot of force that needs to be absorbed by the body, and the shoe. This force causes wear and tear to your shoes and the rate in which they wear out depends on a few individual factors; your weight, your specific running biomechanics, the surface you run on, how much you exercise and whether or not you interchange your shoes.
Here’s how to tell that it’s time to update your running shoes…
Learn to listen to your body
Pain is your body’s way of telling you to stop. To become a better runner you need to be able to push through by continually breaking through this barrier in training. However, you also need to learn how to distinguish what pain should be pushed through and what pain needs to be addressed as it could mean you are close to injury.
Something to note is when your shoe’s midsole starts breaking down and no longer offers the same level of protection and support to your body that it did when it was new, your body will start to feel the repercussions. Foot pain (a slight burning sensation under your forefoot), painful shins and knees, as well as other small aches are signs that your shoes are no longer performing how they used to.
Check your shoe’s health
Flip your shoe over and check your running shoes outsole. If the outsole tread is flat and looks smoother than Ryan Gosling, then it’s time for a new pair. The outsole doesn’t only offer traction to stop you from slipping but is also a level of cushioning.
If in doubt head into the store where you bought your shoes and try on a fresh pair to feel the difference in comfort. If possible jump on the treadmill, or have a little jog on the spot in store to feel if the shoes are comfortable whilst out on a run. Remember to keep it specific – for example, if you so know these shoes will be for speed, then make sure you run fast to get a feel for them.
So how can you get more from your running shoes?
The midsole foams used in running shoes usually take around 24-48 hours to fully recover from a run. With this in mind, I suggest having a few shoes on your running rotation. The shoes you wear should be based off the workouts you run in any given week. Running shoes vary in stiffness and midsole density and the way in which they support the forces that are applied to the body.
It’s important to find the brand that works for you and your body and really research the technology they have on offer for your needs.
Variances in your running shoes will cause the body to work in slightly different ways, which forces it to adapt to the differing stress. The adaptations that are made will help to reduce the likelihood of an overuse injury occurring if the shoes are slowly and appropriately incorporated into your training.
Remember that your shoes are one of the most important parts of your training so choosing them is a process that shouldn’t be rushed.
The Nike Free Run Flyknit features an ‘auxetic’ midsole that expands and contracts to mimic how the foot reacts to pressure, whilst other Nike Running styles feature ‘Lunarlon’ resilient foam core, which is softer and designed to help you go longer.
Sam Strutt is the Nike+ Run Club and Nike Women Half Marathon Head Coach. You can follow him on Instagram @samwillstrutt.