Is it time for a new pair of shoes?

Brainsport floor manager Colin Federow usually goes through two pairs of running shoes a year. Once, he went through five.

As one of Brainsport’s shoe-fitting experts, Federow knows how important it is to retire shoes once they reach the end of their useful lifespan. This week, he shares some of his shoe-related wisdom with the Brainsport Times.

Colin Federow at the Dublin City Marathon in 2000 — his first marathon.

Brainsport Times: What is the average lifespan of a running shoe?

Colin Federow: There are many factors that can affect how long a shoe will last. We typically say a shoe should last about one year with average use, or around 700 kilometres. The life of your shoes can be affected by your body weight, the amount and type of training you do, the surface you train on and your running technique. Just because one person might get a year out of a shoe doesn’t mean everyone will.

BT: How can someone tell if their running shoes need to be retired?

CF: There are a few visual indicators that shoes may be past their prime:

There are significant holes or tearing in the upper (the soft, mesh material that goes around the top of the foot).

The outsole (the hard rubber on the bottom that has grip) is bald or has been worn away.

The side of the midsole (the soft, squishy material between the upper and the outsole that provides the majority of the shock absorption) has deep furrows or creases.

Experiencing unusual aches and pains in your ankles, knees, and hips can also indicate that it may be time to replace your shoes.

Shoes can burn out overnight. One day you go out walking or running and the shoes feel as comfy as they always have. The next time you go out you might experience some weird aches and pains. If those feelings persist, I suggest you start thinking about the age of your shoes.

BT: What are the consequences if people use their shoes past their best-before dates?

CF: When shoes are past their useful life, people will often notice sore, tired feet. Their ankles, knees, and hips may begin to ache, and they may even have some discomfort in their lower back.

Shoes that no longer provide enough support and cushion can lead to unexpected injuries due to a lack of adequate shock absorption in the sole.

Worn-out shoes likely will also not provide adequate traction and may become slippery on certain surfaces.

BT: Is there anything people can do to extend the lifetime of their running shoes?

CF: If you run outside in the winter, try to remove salt residue (salt lines) as soon as possible because salt can degrade the shoe.

If your shoes get wet during a run, remove the insoles to help them dry and stuff them full of newspaper to help remove excess moisture.

It’s nice to give your shoes a break. If you run or walk in your shoes every day they will break down faster than if you use them every other day. Some people buy multiple pairs of shoes and alternate between them.

Running shoes should be used for running or walking. Using running shoes for activities other than running or walking may result in premature wear.

Colin Federow spent 20 years working in manufacturing and mining before obtaining his Bachelors in Kinesiology in 2017. He has been coaching marathon teams through Brainsport since 2007 and has helped more than 500 athletes reach their marathon-related goals. He is one of Brainsport’s shoe-fitting experts, organizes the store’s Brainsport Running Academy clinics and is the store’s medical liaison.