Unfortunately it is time to retire some running shoes

Over the past couple days I have had a few different pairs of shoes crap out on me, each with their own symptoms and indications to let me know that they were done. The coincidental timing of the shoe failures made it tough to sort out which pair(s) were the culprit but with some trial and error, I have sorted out the issue. I occassionally get a hit on the blog from a runner trying to figure out how many miles they should expect to get out of a pair of running shoes and with that in mind I figured I should do a quick write up of the symptoms I was having and how I worked through discovering what was causing my issues. Read on below…

So over the past couple weeks I have been noticing some issues with my feet and legs. Specifically – I have been having some aches in around the front half of my right foot and some issues with my right knee while running. I have also been having issues with my left ankle almost seizing up some days. The right leg issues showed while running but the left leg issues would show up at other times of the day after my legs had had a chance to rest, whether I had run or not that day.

The right knee is a known old issue that comes and goes – mostly if my form is good and I am putting in decent miles the knee will strengthen and be solid. I think this issue is just because I haven’t been running enough but may also be due to bad form. But if it is bad form what is causing that? It is possible that the right foot issues are messing up how I am moving and planting that leg and foot. So I will treat that as a side symptom for now.

My right forefoot is a new thing and I have only been seeing it after my outdoor runs. I had originally thought it might just be due to being a bit off my game and running heavily on asphalt and cement. My outside running lately has been exclusively in my Hoka One One Cliftons, which are fantastic and have done well at shielding me from the punishment I should expect from a lot of pavement running. But on Thursday I did an 8.85 mile run in a new set of Cliftons that I received as a present for Fathers’ Day, and I didn’t have the same forefoot pain. This made me think that the original pair of Cliftons might finally be dead. I hadn’t run the day before so there was the chance that the rest day had allowed the foot to recover, so I did a test run on Friday with the original pair and the foot pain returned. That still wasn’t conclusive because the pain could just be an issue with running back to back days. So Saturday I ran in the new set of Cliftons again – no foot pain…original set of Cliftons is toast. I am sorry to see those shoes go – they hold a lot of memories and have helped me through many races – my first ultra back in October, my first Dopey Challenge (3 of 4 races and wandering around the parks after) as well as a few other half marathons and another full. But I certainly got my money out of them and they have treated me right since the very first test run in them.

In the end (after Friday’s run) the shoes are being retired at 466.9785 running/training miles and more than a few walking miles as well. This is pretty damned impressive considering I have been in the 220-230 pound range the entire time I have been using these shoes. I have always been a Nike Pegasus guy and have gone through dozens of pairs of those shoes over the years and they have never gotten me that kind of mileage! The best mileage I got on a pair of Nike Pegasus 29s was about 350, about 330 for Nike Pegasus 30s – which I have always been happy with. Unfortunately the Pegasus 31s released last year were no where near as cushioned a shoe and I was only able to get 305 miles on them before I had to set them aside. That is over an additional 50% mileage with the Hoka One One Cliftons over the Pegasus 31s….wow!!

Ok – so that sorted out the right foot but what about the left ankle? This didn’t seem to be aggravated by running so much but it was aching frequently if I was out walking around and also showed stiffness after work. It got really bad one day after I mowed the lawn – a half hour of mowing shouldn’t cause issues when I can push out 3.5-4 miles of running in the same time period.

Now my walking around shoes are a pair of Nike Pegasus 30s – I wear these when shopping and at work and pretty much any time I am out of the house besides when running or doing specific yard work. My yard work shoes are a pair of Pegasus 29s that I retired from being my normal walking around shoes a while ago because they were feeling a bit dead but were ok for short periods of use. When that happened I took what was my current running 30s and moved them over to walking around shoes instead – so my current walkers had about 100 running miles on them before they were re-purposed and then had several months of being used day in and day out.

So there were 2 different scenarios where my ankle was hurting, neither of which involved running. After just doing everyday stuff and after doing yard work. I had not worn the walking around shoes the day I had issues after mowing the lawn so there seemed to be no correlation between shoes and the ankle issue. Strange.

But I had to try something so I grabbed my last pair of Pegasus 30s I had in reserve (with no mileage on them at all) and did basically a walking around shopping day in them. No ankle issues at all. I avoided both the old 30s and the old 29s completely that day and I felt no issues with my ankle the next day.

I did some walking around in the old 30s the next day and felt some issues. Those are dead.

So my conclusion is that what has basically happened is that my walking around shoes (the 30s) have died at around the same time the demoted yard work 29s gave up the ghost completely. Or because the 30s are now dead and causing issues the previously dead 29s are aggravating the issues.

Either way, I will be tossing out the old 29s and demoting the old 30s to yard work shoes for the rest of the summer and start using the new 30s for my new walking around shoes. I don’t know what I am going to do once that pair is worn out – I have worn Pegasus for so long for everyday life that I don’t a have a clue what could replace them! I will burn that bridge when I come to it I guess.

Anyway – the moral of the story is that there is no hard and fast rule on how many miles or how much work you can get out of a pair of decent running shoes. You have to watch your body and figure out when it isn’t feeling right and experiment to see if it is the shoes or a deeper issue to be solved. I do recommend keeping a log of how many miles you get on a pair of shoes as that can give you some indication when you might start having problems (especially if you have killed another pair of the same type of shoe before) but that really isn’t a substitute for monitoring and paying attention to what your body is telling you!

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