I don't know if you know this already but I have a lot of running shoes.
Shoes I wear frequently...
For-special shoes for things like trails or track work or crazy rain...
Shoes I bought once upon a time but that never felt quite right...
And stashes of favorites I bought on clearance here & there, because I love a good deal and what if I hate all future versions.
One of my favorite work horse shoes for a while now has been the Saucony Kinvara. It's had a few subtle variations here and there over the years (the 5's and 7's were my favorites; the 6's were an unwearable disaster) but for five years now, Kinvara has been my go-to shoe for 15+ mile runs and marathons. There's enough cushion there to take 3+ hours of pounding, but it's still flexible and responsive enough that it doesn't weigh my feet down and lets me comfortably bust out mile after mile at 8:00 if I want. I still don't get why some people insist on referring to it as a "minimalist" or "stripped-down" shoe (at 6.5 ounces for a women's size 7.5-8 and with a solid inch of foam and rubber underfoot, it's pretty darn built up for a neutral trainer), but it's what's worked for me for the long stuff.
Almost a year ago exactly I ran my BQ marathon in this pair of Kinvara 7's, so it felt sort of fitting that this past weekend I finally retired them after 412 miles.
Memories! CIM 4 eva.
What's so magical about 412, you might ask? Well, since you asked, a whole lotta nothin'.
Sometimes new-to-running or less-obsessive-about-running friends have asked me how you can tell it's time for new shoes and honestly I don't have a super concrete answer. Ten years ago I used to give Ye Olde Running Folke Lore answer of "300-500 miles, YMMV, something-something efficiency/terrain/weight/shrug." Then I was convinced that only the special running store people knew how to tap and twist and fold your old shoes just right to show you, "See? See how the midsole is all corroded?" (For the record, I never understood that. Then again when I first started upping my mileage substantially & having hip pain the special running store people also told me "You probably just need more/new/better/different shoes" when the real answer turned out to be "You have the glute/hip/core strength of a wee baby bunny." So, y'know. Not a lot of trust there.)
These days, all I can really say about retiring shoes is that at some point they start to feel "off." I start to finish the occasional run in them with achey or beat-up feeling feet or legs when there is no other explanation and runs in other pairs have felt fine. Once or twice, maybe it's just an off day, but after that, fare thee well and thank you for your service.
I don't think there's any magic number to watch out for; I've talked to enough different runners about shoes to know folks who wear a variety of different brands into 1,000 mile+ territory and others whose shoes routinely feel like crap after 200. For others it varies tremendously according to brand or how the shoe is made.
I don't think it's absolutely 100% necessary, but personally, I do track my mileage on different pairs of shoes for a few reasons.
- I like to be able to tell whether a shoe is a good buy or not. 400-500+ miles and feels good? Would probably buy again. Biting the dust after less than 200? Probably not, unless I absolutely love it & it's proportionally cheaper.
- I like to keep a newer pair special for long runs, and a lot of times they aren't as good for this after the first 200 miles or so. If they start to feel a little "off" for 15+ milers, I like to be able to check and go, "Right, we're past 200 miles now, into the short run bin you go" (as opposed to "this shoe just sucks").
- If they start to feel "off" during shorter runs, again, I like to be able to tell whether it's because it's just old (400-500 miles but felt good up until then? You're probably done but I'd likely buy you again) or because it's not a very durable shoe and/or just not right for me at that particular point in time.
What I'm Wearing These Days:
- Saucony Kinvaras - Like I said, my go-to long run shoes. These routinely get me to 400-500+ miles, though I wore my first pair (version 3) to the ripe old age of 600 something, and still have a pair of K3s that are going strong (though I don't wear them much anymore since over the years I've developed a taste for a wider toe box). I don't usually do long runs in them after 200 miles, but they're still totally fine for up to 12-14 miles. I replaced the pink/purple 7's above with my last pair of 5's & have a few other pairs that I still do short runs in but that probably also are not long for this world.
- Saucony Fastwitch - For me this shoe is a great halfway point between Kinvaras and a racing flat. They're lighter and have a thinner sole, but still built more or less like a traditional shoe and are stiff and responsive enough for racing a 10K or half in. (I wore them for RNR San Jose.)
- Saucony A4 - My current racing flat/track shoe. Like the Fastwitch, but even less so. I love them for racing & speed work but don't find them super comfortable for slow, easy runs on concrete.
- Brooks Pure Drift, v2 - Talk about a blast from the past! I bought these shoes back when they first came out because friends had raved about them, but at the time they were just too light and floppy for me to run in comfortably. These days I am absolutely loving them and have been using them on both concrete and dirt/trails for up to 10 miles.
- New Balance 1400v2 - These shoes are sooooo comfortable! They remind me of the Fastwitch, except less stiff & with more ground feel. I like them for just about any kind of run up to 10 miles. (After that & I start to feel the concrete a bit too much through the sole, which is actually a good bit thinner than all that pink foam might lead you to believe.)
- Brooks Launch - Man, these things last forever, which is maybe less surprising, given that these are the most built-up, bulky shoes I own. I have one of the original maroon pairs with 1000+ miles on them (I ran CIM 2012 and M2BM 2013 in them) & they have not yet reached the feeling-like-crap phase. Since they're a 10mm offset (vs. 0mm, 2mm, or 4mm for everything else I run in) they're good if I've got a whiny Achilles or calf muscle. (I ran Eugene 2015 in them because I was getting over a calf strain.)
So there you go. A (reasonably) short, cognitively un-demanding blog post.
- What are you running in lately?
- What do you like or hate about it?
- How long do your shoes tend to last and how do you know when it's time to move on?