So, How Many Hats Do You Wear?

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Pensacola, Florida, United States
Husband. *Dog Dad.* Instructional Systems Specialist. Runner. (Swim-challenged) Triathlete (on hiatus). USATF LDR Surveyor. USAT (Elite Rules) CRO/2, NTO/1. RRCA Rep., FL (North). Observer Of The Human Condition.

Monday, August 27, 2012

More Than Meets The Sole

“I bought a used pair of shoes for 15 dollars.”
Had I not been driving the car on a bridge, I most likely would have pulled over and then cried out in horror.  I took a breath, then asked in a calm voice, “What did you do?”
Suzanne said, “I bought a pair of (blank) shoes off eBay, used, for 15 dollars.”
“They’re in good condition; the sole only has a little bit of wear and they felt pretty good this morning on the run.  It’s not a bad deal.”
The conversation was definitely not one of those I wanted to have while driving home from a Sunday brunch.  Perhaps in the case of my wife it wasn’t a bad deal, but buying a used running shoe seems much to me like buying a used car.  I’ve had friends (and some family) provide the classic adage, ‘when you buy a used car, more often than not you are buying someone else’s problems.’  So in Suzanne’s case, I felt that not only had she bought someone else’s problem, but she also could not tell how long the previous owner had used the problem.
When it comes to wear and tear on a pair of shoes it’s not necessarily the outsole (the harder rubber portion of running shoes which contacts the road, track, belt or terrain) where the attention needs to be focused.  The midsole of the running shoe is the part which takes all of the beating.  But, to borrow an automotive analogy, to determine the shoes are still good for running, too many runners look at tire wear rather than the condition of the shock absorbers.
Most runners, if they use a pair of running shoes for more than 400-to-500 miles (or six months), are asking for musculoskeletal trouble.  Personal experience has shown me when a runner has not made any change in training distance, surface, or intensity, but suddenly suffers from aches and pains in the ankles, knees, hips and lower back, they most likely have a "dead" pair of shoes.  Some have asked whether changing the sockliner with a gel or silicone rubber insole will help. 

That's a very short-term quick fix. 
Go out and purchase another pair of shoes.  Or two.
Runners who do higher training mileage, run a little "heavier," sweat a great deal, or live in a warm, humid area of the world would do well to rotate between two or three pairs of shoes at a time.  Rotating shoes not only extends the life of all of the shoes but ensures the runner is less likely to run in a soggy pair of shoes.  Soggy shoes not only stink to high heaven (almost worse than when they're dry) but can increase the odds of developing athlete’s foot.
I’m not advocating going full-out “Imelda Marcos,” and carrying a shoe arsenal which rivals most Olympic decathletes.  However, most runners can and should keep more than one pair of functional running shoes available at a time.  Keep an eye peeled for on-line sales and discounts from local brick-and mortar running specialty stores, and comparison shop, and you can keep yourself in a good pair of running shoes throughout the year.

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