Neil Featherby: How long should a pair of running trainers last?

Neil Featherby and the art of motivation. Picture: Mark Hewlett

Getting the right pair of running trainers is crucial for any runner - Credit: Archant

Whilst the last 12 months in some ways feel like it has gone on forever, when it comes to writing these weekly columns, I cannot believe how quickly they come around.  

“How do you manage to so regularly find something different to write about?” I am constantly asked.   

Well, when running is and has been part of my everyday life for as long as it has, then it is pretty easy. 

I am sure I repeat myself every now and again, but there is always plenty going on when it comes to having something to fill a column with. 

This last week has seen me spending many hours working with my staff in respect of current day to day business at Sportlink with of course also now getting ready for the re-opening to the public again on April 12. 

Due to people still not being able to just walk into the store though, it has also been another week of answering so many differing emails with regards to questions on diet, training, injuries and of course footwear and equipment. 

Whilst it all may seem quite obvious to myself and other experienced runners, for those people who have taken up running during the last year, for many of them I can also see why it might feel like a minefield of confusing information.   

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Questions such as “I have never previously had a proper pair of running shoes, so before I buy can you tell me which shoes will be the best for me?” Or “do you think it is realistic to run an ultra-marathon having just started running last year when lockdown first came in?”   

However, and going back to questions which relate to running shoes, the most frequent question of late is when how long should a pair of running shoes last? 

For many years there has always been this rule of thumb of about 500 miles on average, but this has now changed to about 300 miles or so say most of the manufacturers. 

Going back 30 plus years it was more like 1,000 miles, so what has changed especially as footwear technology has seen many changes since then? 

In truth or perhaps I should say in my opinion, there is no definitive answer. 

There have been times when I have trashed a pair of shoes in just two weeks whereas on other occasions it may well have been more like 700 miles. 

In all honesty, I don’t even really count the number of miles which I have ran in a pair of shoes. 

I just know when it is time to get a new pair. 

I also alternate my shoes all the time which apart from giving me a different feel underfoot which is nice, I also think it allows the shoes not in use on any such day to recover from the hammering they may have had the day before. 

We are all so very different when it comes to our own individual running style and how we apply stresses to our shoes through our gait combined with impact forces and pace. 

Talking of pace, shoes which are specifically designed for performance are also invariably going to break down much sooner than a bog standard running shoe despite being more expensive in many cases. 

When you really weigh it up, a modern-day running shoe is made from very lightweight materials and the fact that they do indeed last for as long as they do when also taking into consideration that we might be taking anything from 150 to 180 strides per minute at 2.5 to 3 times our own body weight during each stride, then it is pretty remarkable really. 

A really good quality pair of running shoes which offers the best cushioning and comfort (unless on special offer), is in reality going to cost £80 upwards.   

When breaking it down into the number of miles ran in them be it 300 or even 700, then when all is said and done, the most important piece of equipment which a runner will purchase is pretty good value really.