How to tell if your running shoes need replacing

I’m playing a bit of catch-up at the moment. Day six of the ‘Problogger get your blogging motivation back’ challenge has been released, and I’m only just putting out day five. Day five’s challenge is to write a ‘how to’ post. I actually struggled coming up with an idea for this post. I did come up with an idea of a cost-saving recipe that I make regularly, but I made it the other day, and it is too soon to make it again which means no photos. I’m going to leave it for a future post.

So today’s post idea came to me during my Sunday-Runday long run. How to tell when your running shoes need to be retired. Old, worn out running shoes increase your risk of injury due decreased cushioning and stability. I bought new running shoes during the week, however, I didn’t want to use them for my weekly long run until I’ve got a few short runs on them.

New Shoes

So trusty old runners were pulled out for an 18km run, and I certainly felt their age.

Worn SHoes2

There are a number of factors that affect when a pair of runners need replacing and includes brand/model of runners, distance run, running surface, running style, body weight, and frequency of runs. That said, there are a number of signs that will tell you that your runners might need to be relegated to walking or gardening shoes.

Distance run: There’s a general thought that you should replace your runners when you’ve covered 400-600kms. Some people get 1000+kms, but the distance you will get out of your running shoes will be influenced by the factors mentioned above. Some running apps such as Strava allow you to track the distance you’ve run, and allows you to being aware of the other signs when you reach that distance. I’ve been tracking my kms with Strava, and these old faithfuls have clocked over 700kms.

Worn shoes: If the tread on the soles has worn away, it’s a pretty good indicator that you need new shoes and that you’re not going to be getting the cushioning you need during a run. Additionally, if your toes have a worn a hole in the toe box, get thee some new shoes! You can see in the photo below that the outer heels, mid-sole, and toe of my shoes has worn smooth. At the midsole, the tread has actually worn down to be level with the white cushiony bit.

Worn shoes

Sore feet and knees: If you’re noticing that you are experiencing more knee or foot pain than usual, it’s a sign that your shoes aren’t providing you with the stability and cushioning you need. I during my long run that my feet were hurting, when they don’t usually do so. After I’d finished my run, my knees ached for hours. I’ve had knee issues in the past, but this was a different kind of pain and felt more like I’d had no shock absorption during my run. Definitely a sign that running is over for my old shoes.

Flexibility: Running shoes should be fairly firm. You shouldn’t be able to easily twist them. If you noticed that your running shoes have become quite flexible, it’s time to invest in some new ones.

After Sunday’s run, my old runners have been retired. I’m still quite attached to them – I bought them just before I got serious about running. They’ve seen me through my first half-marathon, and through a large portion of my training for my second half-marathon. So they won’t be going in the bin just yet, they’ll become my walking and gardening shoes.  Just quietly, I suspect I’ll be holding onto them until it’s time to retire my new runners.

 

First Half-Marathon Recap

It’s been two weeks since I ran the HBF half-marathon, and I’m still wrapping my head around the fact that I ran a half-marathon. As I said in my last post, a major part of running long distances is mental endurance. This was certainly true for my first half marathon. I’ve come away from it having learned quite a few lessons that I am going to use to change and improve my running.

I need to train more hills, and bigger ones at that. Less than a kilometre into the run, was the steepest and longest hill I have run. Ever. I wanted to walk it, I seriously considered it. I also knew that if I did, I would regret it later. I told myself that none of the other half-marathon runners (there were almost 3000 of us) would be walking less than a kilometre in, that the rest of the course would be flat (it wasn’t), and that it wasn’t as steep or as long as it seemed. And I did it, I ran the whole way up the hill, but the lack of significant hills during training meant that all other (minor) hills during the rest of the course were a struggle, and that my legs were much more tired by the end of the course than they had been during any of my long training runs.

I had to make a toilet stop just before the 10km mark. I went to the toilet just before the run started, I didn’t drink any water between pre-run toilet and about the 11km mark. I’ve never made a toilet stop during any run before, so it was pretty frustrating to have to stop running, line up and wait for a toilet, and then get going again. I discovered that just because all my babies were born via c-section doesn’t mean I should ignore my pelvic floor.

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Coming out of the Graham Farmer FWY Tunnel, about 13kms in.

I found running with a large group of people challenging. I’m used to running on my own, so running with a few thousand people was definitely not what I’m used to.  Navigating my way around people, and also being aware of runners coming up behind me wanting to pass me are things I hadn’t given much thought to previously. I ran with my hydration pack, so I didn’t have to stop at the water stations which was good for me mentally, but I did have to navigate my way around people who were stopping for water, and all the paper cups chucked on the road. I must say the volunteers are awesome. Handing out thousands of cups of water during the event (and there was about 34,000 participants including the half, the 12km and the 4km events), cleaning up the rubbish, plus all the finish line volunteers was greatly appreciated.

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This was me attempting to smile at the photographer.

With about 6kms to go, the 12km course front-runners started to pass. They seemed like cheetahs sprinting passed me, and I was almost taken out by one of them. It was a knock to my confidence at first to see them go flying by, but I reminded myself they only had 6kms in their legs compared to my 15kms. In the last kilometre, the 4km event sprinters came flying through, but by that stage I didn’t care. I just wanted to get across the finish line.

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The last kilometre was the hardest. I just wanted it to be over. My legs were tired, my body was tired, and my head was tired. I think this was mainly due to the hill at the start. When I reached the 1km to go sign, it felt like such a long distance away. I could see the finish line with about 500 meters left to run, and I didn’t know how I was going to get there. I could tell my form was off, leaning forward and heel-striking, but my focus was purely on crossing the finish line. I told myself if I could run the previous 20.6kms, I could run another 500m. In the last kilometre, there was a man in front of me from the 12km event who would sprint, then stop, sprint again, stop, have a lie down, get back up and sprint again. The first time I saw him do it, I planned on stopping to see if he was okay, but he was off again before I reached him. He was running the last time I saw him, so I don’t know what happened to him. I know that if I had stopped then, I wouldn’t have been able to start running again.

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So close, but so far. Surrounded by 12km runners.

I crossed the finish line and stocked up on all the drinks and food being handed out. I sculled a bottle of Gatorade Zero pretty quickly, I’ve never drunk it before, but I wasn’t saying no. An apple and banana had never tasted so good. I collected my medal, then headed for a stretching session and free leg massage. I think the massage made a huge difference to my muscle recovery. I asked the massage therapist to concentrate on my calves because they were the most sore, but in the coming days, they were fine, and it was my quads giving me the most grief. Next time I’ll book a post run sports massage.

My official time was 2:12:12, but that doesn’t account for toilet time. I was hoping for a sub-2 hour time, but considering it was my first half, and I wasn’t prepared for the hills, I think I did alright. I was 1893rd finisher out of 2945 half-marathon participants, and 669th female. I’m hoping to do better next time.

The mental fatigue set in pretty quickly. I borrowed my father-in-law’s car to get to the train station in the morning, and when I got back to it to drive home, I couldn’t figure out how to start it (it’s one of those keyless cars). About 20 minutes, a few phone calls, a few swear words, and I was on my way. I got home and had a long hot shower before climbing into bed. I didn’t sleep because running gets the digestive system moving, but I rested for a few hours while the little boys napped, the big kids watched a movie, and my husband went out for a 4 hour run (he’s training for an ultra-marathon). I also ate just about everything in sight. LCHF went out the window that afternoon.

I took a few days off running to recover, but discovered on my first run back that I had an injury that wasn’t apparent previously. My physiotherapist has diagnosed fibula stress reaction, so in order to prevent it developing into a stress fracture, I’m not allowed to run at the moment. I’ve been tempted to sneak in a few runs, but I’m planning another half-marathon in August, and a full marathon in September. I’d rather a few weeks off running now, with the ability to still do non-weight baring cross-training, rather than risk a few months off down the track and jeopardising my future events.

So, in the mean time, I’m processing the fact that I actually ran a half-marathon, I’m dreaming about running, and planning future training so next time I am better prepared.

Choosing my future.

Twelve months ago, I was banging on about how I was running and loving it. Then I injured my ankle and back, and I was always going to get back in to it, but excuses, and blah blah blah, it didn’t happen.
All through last year, I told friends from one of my mother’s groups that I was trying to lose the last of my baby weight, but I pretty much stayed the same weight all year. I started sporadically going to the gym after I went back to uni, but then I got distracted by assignments and exams. Fast forward to the start of this year, and one of my goals I set for myself for the year was taking care of myself physically.
I’m not sure how serious I was about it. A few days into the new year, I was shovelling a block of chocolate in my gob, telling myself it was good quality dark chocolate, so it wasn’t that bad for me. Ha! Until I realised how many calories I’d smashed in five minutes. It was like a slap upside the head. I’m not going to lose weight if I don’t exercise, and if I eat chocolate very day. And that family history of being overweight/obese, heart disease and type two diabetes? If I don’t make changes, that’s my future. I don’t want that, for myself, or my children.
Now, I’m not overly heavy, but I’m pretty short, so any extra weight shows up pretty quickly on me. I’m sick of feeling heavy, I’m sick of having crappy skin, and I’m sick of the way I look carrying extra weight. I’m sick of talking about losing weight, but not actually doing anything about it. So I’m counting calories and I’m making better food choices, I’m working out and I’m feeling good. I’ve just got to keep it up. I always stumble when some sort of hurdle pops up – injury, uni assignments, life. I’ve got to remember how good I feel when I’m healthy, how much better I am at life when I’m fuelling my body with wholesome food and when I’m feeling strong. This has to be a goal for life, not just for the year.

Every day, I must choose to make my health a priority. Every day, I must choose my future.

Show and tell.

A few weeks ago, Mahalia ran over her toe with the pantry door. Yep, ouch!

She handled it pretty well, I would have made a hell of a lot more noise than she did. A few tears, and ice pack, and she calmed down pretty quickly. Over the next couple of days, the skin under her toenail bruised up to a lovely shade of dark purple, and her nail loosened.

Like a kid with a scab, whenever her shoes and socks were off, she picked at that toenail, and showed it off to anyone who would look. Just quietly, I’d have preferred she didn’t show me.

Last night her toenail was loose enough that she managed to pull it off, and she was quite proud of it. I suggested she chuck it in the bin. Instead she played with it, pretended to stick it back on and pull it off again. And then she put it in a treasure box to keep it safe until Tuesday, when she plans to take it to school for news. Ahem.

No need to thank me Mrs B, no need at all.

Runner

I am a runner. The words sound strange when I say them in my head. I’ve never thought of myself as a runner. I always hated it. I was always one of the ones that would slow to a walk as soon as we were through the school gates when we had cross country. Then, for nine years I had to pass a fitness test which involved running, once a year every year (except when pregnant) in order to be fit for employment. I ran enough just so that I would pass the run in just under the maximum allowed time. I cursed every step of the way, looked for landmarks to indicate the torture was nearly over.

Just before I fell pregnant with the twins, I started running as part of a fitness program. By no means was I fast, or graceful, but I was just starting to get the hang of it when morning sickness and extreme fatigue put a stop to all things exercise. By the time I felt well enough to do any more than lie on the couch, I was sporting quite a sizeable beach ball out the front, and couldn’t manage much more than a waddle.

I started a running interval program two months ago. It was bloody hard at first. I couldn’t manage much more than walking pace. Slowly, I’ve been able to run faster, and longer. Then 3 weeks ago, I had to stop due to back and ankle pain. After seeing a physiotherapist, treating and healing my injuries, and determining that while I have a fairly decent abdominal muscle separation thanks to carrying twins who were both over 3kg at birth, my core muscles are strong enough to resume running. And resume I have. I thought it would be hard, after 2.5 weeks off. I though I would struggle, but returning has been easier than I thought, my fitness level hasn’t seemed to have decreased too much.

I still don’t find it easy. I have to convince myself to go. When all the kids are in bed, I just want couch time – an episode of Game of Thrones, and a spot of knitting. As I’m settling the twins to sleep, part of me hopes that they’ll take a long time to settle, meaning that it will be too late, too dark to go running by the time they are asleep. But there is also a little voice whispering, getting louder, urging me on. Reminding me how good I feel afterwards, how much happier and healthier I feel after running, how I feel more like me.

When I’m out there, I make deals with myself to get through. ‘At the next light post you can check your watch to see how long you’ve been running’, or ‘at the end of the next running interval, you’ll be halfway through and it’s all downhill from there’. The longer I run though, despite the huffing and puffing, the better I feel. I crank the music louder, to drown out the sounds of my own breathing. And by the end, I’m pretty impressed with my achievement, running even though I tried to find excuses not to, making it all the way to the end, achieving a new personal best. And those post-exercise endorphins? They make me feel pretty good too. After each run, I enjoy running just a little bit more, I feel more like a runner.

I am a runner, and I think I like it.

 

Knowing when to stop

I’m the queen of not finishing what I’ve started, and making excuses for quitting. Just this month, I’ve already given up on the 365 Grateful series (I was tired, and I don’t get out much), Chantelle’s photo a day challenge (once again, tired), and in the past, running whenever it got too hard.

Having the twins saw me get rather large in the belly department:

38 weeks, the day before Harry and Zach were born.
38 weeks, the day before Harry and Zach were born.

While I put on an average amount of weight for a twin pregnancy, and lost most of it just by giving birth, I stacked weight back on in the early weeks of Harry and Zach’s life. Breastfeeding two babies meant that I had to eat all of the food, all of the time. I’ve never been so hungry in all of my life. i ate whatever I could shove in my face the fastest.

I started a learn to run program recently to shift those pesky kilos, and to reclaim my health and fitness. I’m also eating much, much better. I promised myself at the start, that I would not give up. I would not give in to old excuses, having a stitch, being tired, not being a runner. And I haven’t. 6 weeks ago, I struggled to run for one minute. Tonight, I ran 16 minutes non-stop. 16 minutes. I’ve never run for that long without stopping before in my life. Ever.

I’ve gone too far with not giving up though, I’ve gone past ignoring my body’s complaints of it being too hard. I’ve been ignoring two injuries, telling myself that I was trying to come up with excuses for not running again. My ankle has been hurting for the past two weeks. I can ignore it while running, but it certainly makes it’s presence known the following day. I’ve had a dull ache in my lower back for about a week. I’ve been ignoring it too, not even mentioning it to hubby, lest I make it more real. Tonight, when I finished running, the plan was to walk for a few kilometres before heading home. Only, I realised a few minutes into my walk, and my breathing had returned to normal, that the dull ache that I’d ignored while running had become so painful that I was limping. I pushed on for a bit, but the pain, and the limp got worse.

As I headed home, the stubborn voice in my head told me I was making excuses again, that I was giving up. But 1.5 hours later, I am still in pain, I am still limping. I know I need to rest it, I probably need to see a physio, for both my back and my ankle. The thought of resting scares me though. What if resting becomes an excuse not to start again once I am healed? What if I lose all my hard-gained fitness, and I have to start all over again? What if I don’t start again?

I’ll be honest and admit that I probably won’t rest as much as I should, although I will seek treatment. It’s funny, in the past, the thought of running scared me, the fear of pain and fatigue made me stop. Now the thought of stopping scares me, even pain won’t make me stop. Somehow, I need to find the in-between.