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Running Shoes: When to invest in a new pair?

How many miles should you run before changing your running shoes? That's the question runners ponder over. Do you get a new pair for your birthday every year, or do you hold out until they fall apart before you treat yourself to a new pair?

Back in 2015 I decided to run the London marathon for the second time. After enjoying the first so much, I thought why not give it another go! So that Christmas I bought a brand new pair of Saucony Omni 13's. I'm not sure there is anything better than unwrapping a brand new pair of running trainers! The clean look, the 'new' smell, the feeling of wanting to run in them but not wanting to ruin that brand new feel. But then comes the thought of how the running feels in shoes that have the cushioning and support your feet need. That feeling overrode the rest & before I knew it I was out running in them!


So come January 1st, my training kicked in properly and as time went by, I built up the miles and the duration that I was running for and the shoes were performing magnificently. Fast forward to April 2015 and I'd clocked up in the region of 400 miles. Training went well. The marathon approached and then the day went really well with a new PB by 30 minutes! All down to the shoes!

Like many other runners, after training for a marathon and then running the 26.2 miles, I took a while off pounding the streets as 5 months of training had taken a little bit of fun out of the sport. But as time went by, the urge to lace your shoes up and get back out on the road was too great and before I knew it, I was back out clocking up the miles. In the same shoes.

 



Now fast forward to October 2016. A full 18 months after the marathon and my trusted Saucony's were still going strong. Or so I thought. With my weekly mileage being around 15 - 20 miles, it was safe to say I was due a new pair. But it's so easy to stick with a trusted pair that I continued with them. Then the injuries started. Waking up in the mornings with a sore achilles wasn't fun! Hobbling around for 15 minutes waiting for your body to loosen up before you could walk normally. Then my calf muscles started feeling tight and I looked like I had permanent cramp. What was causing this? Not warming up and stretching? I had a set plan for warming up (and down) which hadn't changed so I figured this wasn't the problem. Could it be a feeling of dehydration that was leading to cramp? I was drinking enough water for 10 runners so this wasn't the issue. Maybe it was because I was getting old? I'm only 35 so i disregarded that!

On the next run the penny dropped. Having owned this pair of running shoes for just short of 2 years, they may well be the problem! On my normal 10k loop along Southsea seafront in Portsmouth, I calculated I'd run approximately 800 miles in them. 800! Now I've owned many pairs over the years, each for differing amounts of time, but I knew this was too long.



The next day I headed to a local retailer, Absolute Running, with the plan of purchasing a brand new pair. Nick questioned me on how long I'd had them, how many miles I'd run and what the discomfort felt like. After describing the achilles and calf problems it was obvious a new pair were required and my eyes lit up.

Then came the choices! Do I stick with Saucony? Do I venture over and purchase some Hoka that are popular at the moment? Do I go for the flashiest pair on the shelf? Buying a new pair of running shoes throws up quite a few conundrums! After trying on a few different options and running up and down the shop, the sensible runner in me won and I made the choice to stick with Saucony. Having previously owned 2 pairs and got on fantastically with them, it seemed a no brainer to stick with a tried and tested shoe.

Decision made. An hour after entering the shop, I left with a box tucked proudly and firmly under my arm. In that box was a shiny new pair of Saucony Omni 15's, all clean and fresh smelling. I felt like a kid at Christmas.

Opening the box at home I almost didn't want to take them out. Sat there all wrapped up, it seemed mean to disturb them. But then there's the 'new' smell, the clean feel and the desire to put them on straight away was too difficult to resist. An hour later I was out running in them and what a great feeling! The cushioning felt great. The softness of the shoe meant it didn't feel like my feet were slapping the pavement with each stride and after a few runs, the aches and pains disappeared which was a relief. The kid in me also loved the colour! It put the enjoyment back into running for me. Why hadn't I bought a new pair earlier?!



So now comes the question: how many miles is enough in one pair of running shoes? Do you get a new pair every year? If you run Parkrun every week then you're clocking up 180 miles a year. In this case your shoes could last a couple of years. If you're training for events and doing upwards of 20 miles a week then your annual mileage could be in the region of 1000 miles! That definitely requires you to either buy a new pair very frequently or own multiple pairs. What would you do?

In my case I'd run around 800 miles which was too many. In hindsight, buying a new pair before the injuries occurred would have been the best thing to do, but when you're used to lacing up the same, trusted pair, it's too easy to keep on running in them. Having a specialist running shop locally means it's easy to speak to them about getting the right shoe for you. If urge anyone to look up their nearest specialist like I did with Absolute Running and go in and have a chat!

I'm now 50 miles into my new shoes and I'm enjoying every run in them. It's too easy to pick up injuries and fall out of love with running, so I'm not going to make this mistake again!

The question is, how many pairs should you own at once......?
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