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Wear’s the problem(?)

 

We all have different feet.  We have different running styles and use different shoes in different places.  This leads to infinitely complicated results when each person in turn purchases a shoe to run in and finds they get something very different than the last person got with theirs.

One thing that all shoes have in common is THEY WEAR OUT.

No matter where we take them, how frequently we run, or whether we wear them all day every day instead of saving them for special occasions, they will in time end up a shadow of their former self.

Factors that affect the life of a shoe include their depth of midsole, materials, their purpose (are they being dragged through scree or thorny woodland?).  The feet that go in them vary in shape and size.  The person wearing them might sweat a lot, or run through a lot of water (UK residents).  Sticky rubber soles wear quickly, hard endurance compounds don’t fare well on wet rock.  Lightweight means vulnerability, robust means heavy…….

Are your shoes trying to tell you something?

Are your shoes trying to tell you something?

No matter how tough a manufacturer may make a shoe, the result will in time be the same – they break.

From the day they came out of the box, to the day they finally fall off your feet in tatters, there will of course be a gradual, step by step process of wear and tear that increases the apparent damage.

The first thing to go will again be very different according to the circumstances by which a shoe comes to encounter such wear and tear.  Indeed, a curved foot in a straight shoe is going to force changes on the shape and feel over time, same in reverse.  If you run on the wrong part of your foot without realising it, you might wind up with a little peep hole through the top of the toe box.  There’s a lot can happen as they suffer one step at a time for month after month.  So subtle you don’t see it happening, but obvious as soon as your socks becomes visible to the world.

There’s an irony in companies producing really robust uppers for feet that bend and spread.  Too stiff and all that happens is your feet are restricted, affecting your ability to run.  The same stiff materials also have to break for your foot to achieve the movement necessary.  It’s far better in a lot of cases for a shoe to have the flexible lightweight uppers your feet prefer, but you’ll have to accept that this makes them more delicate as a result.  Depending on where you go and what comes into contact with the shoe, it may prove advantageous, despite the flimsy appearance.

These shoes have been loved.

These shoes have been loved.

For me personally, it seems more often than not that the outside edge will develop a little hole where my little toe sits.  This is the widest part of my foot and is the bit where the shoe bends back and forth with every step, so to me seems perfectly understandable.

Companies often make shoes with a reinforced toe cap of some kind, even if just a slightly tougher substance is just painted across the front end of the shoe, this will normally be the case.  As more stretchy materials flex, they adjust to the movement of the foot, but where the tougher stuff refuses to budge, there’s TENSION.  The stretchy tries to pull and the tough stuff says NO, meaning there’s usually a small break begins to form.

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Surprises me when this doesn’t happen.

It is at this point that I begin to really enjoy the fit and feel of the shoe, as it suddenly allows for that flex to continue unaffected, yet so many people see this as a failure on the part of the shoe.  A perfectly useable, comfortable shoe – still capable of hundreds of miles and with tread to spare.

Similar issues arise when the heels wear through and some of the stuffing starts to show through the inside of the ankle pad or heel cup.

Unless bobbling aggravates the skin or the required padding leaves the shoe, I make little of it, since it’s a sign that you’ve probably already had half the shoe’s life (400 miles ave for off-road and 500 miles ave on).

There’s no point trying to get extra miles from a shoe, just because the uppers are still pristine, only to realise that the battered mid sole is now allowing you to pummel your joints into dust!

The conclusion I’ve reached – between brand new and shredded, while covering the expected 500 miles recommended by the manufacturer, it is fair if not downright useful to see the wear appearing, notifying you that it should be time to introduce a new shoe into the mix before you’re left reliant on one that’s doing more harm than good.  Two shoes allow for you to alternate until the lesser shoe needs replacement.  You simply continue with what was once the new shoe – now next in line for the chop.

Only if a shoe fails to the extent it cannot be used for its intended purpose would I think to contact the manufacturer.  Gaping splits after 100 miles, glue coming unstuck or lace holes ripping through might cause me concern, but a few nicks and scrapes are to be expected.

One thing we do stress to people when they purchase footwear from Accelerate is that here in Sheffield, so close to the Peak National Park, there’s a strong chance they might occasionally run around on boggy, Peat based areas.  This is very corrosive thanks to the acidity levels in the soil.  To cover your feet in such muck can be part of the fun, if not the reason you bought such aggressive spiky shoes in the first place.  But this is where you should consider rinsing your feet at the end of a run, whether in a convenient stream or in a bucket of water back home.  Leaving them to one side and promising yourself you’ll tackle them later, or maybe waiting ’til dry and banging them together seems a good idea, but they’re busy rotting in the meantime, reducing their life expectancy by a good half, depending on the shoe.

Take note.

Peat

The destroyer!

Anyway, have fun – love your shoes and when the time comes to replace them, accept that they should look as if they’ve been used.  Holes and threads at all angles don’t have to matter, as long as they still stay on and protect you where it counts.

About Houghboy

Running. Films. Films about running. It's all good.
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