The Lifespan of Running Shoes

You may not have noticed by my lack of posts about running here but once again I haven’t been running due to injury. I had to stop running last year at the end of July due to knee pain which then became shin pain and a suspected stress fracture. An MRI scan didn’t show too many signs in the way of a stress fracture but it still hurt so I was unable to run throughout August, September and October. I did start again in November and have been running OK since then but over the past few weeks the knee and shin pain has reoccured.

I’ve been to see a physio about it and have had one session with him to hopefully release some knots and tightness in my shin and calf muscles. I’ll l go back for more over the next few weeks and will also be doing more in the way of stretching and strength training for my knees and lower legs.

I’ve also come to the conclusion that maybe I need to change my running shoes more often. I’ve tried to look back through my training diaries to see how many miles I’d done in one particular pair of shoes when the injury issues start but finding the exact number is a little difficult – despite the amount of data I track that just doesn’t seem to be data that is easy to extract retrospectively. However, my last couple of pairs of running shoes have been Brooks Ghost shoes and looking back through my diaries it looks as though I bought a pair in January 2011 and then another pair in April 2012. As far as I can work out I therefore ran about 500 miles in my first pair and had ran about 300 miles in my second pair by August last year when the pains first began. I’ve since run another 200 miles or so in these shoes taking the total mileage in my second pair up to around 500 miles.

I knew it was time to replace them so on a trip to Cardiff at the weekend we went to Run and Become for a shoe fitting and gait analysis session to find the right shoes for me. As before those that seemed to suit my running style, and fit me best were the latest iteration of the Brooks Ghost shoes. However, in chatting we were discussing the lifespan of shoes as my old ones were looking pretty worn, especially along the outside edge of the forefoot area. Most running shoes only last around 300 miles before the cushioning starts to break down and they become less effective. What makes matters worse for me is that most of the cushioning in running shoes is in the heels and there is very little in the forefoot. Therefore as a very strong forefoot striker my shoes will actually last for fewer miles as I will break down what little forefoot cushioning there is quicker.

This probably means that I should be replacing my shoes before I’ve run 300 miles in them, probably every 200-250 miles really. Mind you at around £100 a pop for a pair of shoes it soons gets quite expensive. If they only last 250 miles max I’ll have to replace them every 10-15 weeks. That’s more than £3 per run. However, if worn shoes are the cause of my leg pains and recent inability to run I guess it’s a small price to pay.

I did try them on a short run around Yate on Sunday morning. My leg was still a little sore but that was expected as it hasn’t had time to fully heal, but it didn’t feel as bad as it has done so maybe either the physio, the new shoes or a combination of both will be a fix? It’s too early to tell yet, but I’m hoping that the physio will help promote any healing and the new shoes will prevent a reoccurrence.

Fingers Crossed, and I’ll keep you posted.

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Alan Cole

Alan is a Freelance Website Designer, Sports & Exercise Science Lab Technician and full time Dad & husband with far too many hobbies: Triathlete, Swimming, Cycling, Running, MTBing, Surfing, Windsurfing, SUPing, Gardening, Photography.... The list goes on.

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