So let’s talk about shoes!
When you are about a month away from your marathon, you should seriously evaluate whether or not you need new shoes. You need several weeks to break them in and allow your feet and legs to get used to them.
Do not run a marathon in a new pair of shoes!
In fact, do not run a marathon in anything new. Be sure you have done at least one long run in exactly what you are going to wear on race day. Race day is not the time to discover something does not fit right or rubs you in a bad way.
So how do you know when it is time to buy new running shoes?
I am certainly no expert on shoes, so I decided to call my go-to guy for all things related to running gear so I could give you the best advice.
Jeff Van Horn—no relation to me—is the owner of Luck Foot, an amazing running store in the Richmond, Virginia area. Jeff has a degree in Sports Medicine and is an expert on human bio-mechanics, gait analysis, and knows more about shoes and running gear than anyone I know.
Needless to say, Jeff is qualified to answer the question: “When should I get new shoes?”
His first answer to the question is actually the most obvious. You should get new shoes when your current shoes start to get uncomfortable or are no longer doing their job of supporting your feet properly.
Supporting and protecting your feet is, after all, the primary purpose of a shoe. When they are no longer doing that job properly, it is time for a new pair.
The average runner will get roughly 400 miles out of a good pair of running shoes. That number will vary depending on your weight, running style, and where you run—roads, trails, treadmill, etc.
Some things to look at are these:
Tread (Outer-sole): if the tread is wearing through in spots so the mid-sole (cushion) is showing or if the tread is wearing so they no longer can grip the road in slippery or wet conditions, it is time to change.
Mid-sole (cushion): this is the foam or air pockets between the tread and the In-sole. If it has lost its ability to absorb the shocks of running or is starting to crack or separate from the Outer-sole, it is time to change.
Uppers: This is the fabric, the pretty part of the shoe that holds your foot. If it is wearing through in places, particularly around the toes, it is time to change. Also, the upper shoe fabric can stretch, so if your laces are getting longer because you need to tie them tighter to make the shoe fit better, it is time for a change.
Jeff’s best advice is this: Go to a local running shoe store and try on an new pair of shoes identical to the ones you are wearing. Jog up and down the aisles. Better yet, if the store will let you, go for a short jog around the parking lot. If you cannot really tell a difference between the new shoes and your current shoes, just keep what you have. If you notice a difference in cushion, fit and stability, then buy the new shoes.
I would also add this to Jeff’s advice: if you only have a month before your race and you do need new shoes, buy the very same shoes—brand and model—that you currently have. Now is not the time to try a completely different brand or style of shoe.
I also highly recommend that you buy your shoes at a locally owned running store rather than a big-name, multi-purpose sports or department store. Not only will you get much better service and advice at a store owned and operated by runners, you will be supporting your local business and running community. Many of these stores have their own weekly group runs, which is a great way to meet new running friends!
Now, you’ve got a marathon to train for, so look at your shoes and decide now whether or not you need a new pair! Do not put it off until the week before your race!
Here is a shameless plug for Jeff Van Horn and his Lucky Foot store: