Do Running Shoes Expire? Mine Broke.

Do running shoes expire? After reading multiple articles on the topic and talking with a few local retailers, I can tell you it is clear as mud.

Some swear by the mileage rule. Depending upon how hard you run, your shoes are good for 300 to 600 miles. Some say to keep the mileage in mind, but also that you will know it’s time to replace when you feel aches and pains. That sounds a little late to me.

And some say you need to replace your running shoes every 12 months regardless of how much you’ve worn them, if at all. The claim is that the material of which the shoes are made deteriorates on its own and after a year (even if just sitting in the box), will not provide the cushion and support needed for running. Sounds like a profitable business model to me.

Here are my problems with this:

  1. The people saying this are the very people who will profit from having the running world believe one year, regardless of wear, is the point at which you must replace your shoes.
  2. If this is the case, we need an expiration date on every pair of shoes and clearly marked on the box. If it can be put on milk, eggs, even Budweiser uses a “born on” date, surely the athletic shoe industry can figure it out.

Here’s what got me going on this. My shoes that were 15 months old (from date of purchase) fell apart. Yep, a piece broke right off the bottom of the shoe as I was walking–not running–my dog. These shoes had about 150 miles on them. Well under the mileage benchmark, if that’s your school of thought. However, at 15 months, according to some, they were “expired” regardless of the mileage.

ASICS Gel Cumulus 15 with broken lug
My shoe actually broke (ASICS Gel Cumulus 15)

I went to the store where I purchased the shoes to find I was beyond the store’s 12-month return policy and that I should work directly with ASICS. ASICS responded promptly with their criteria for having defective shoes replaced, along with the necessary paperwork for me to complete. After talking with the folks at the store and a runner friend of mine, I decided to not return the shoes because apparently, due to my shuffling style of running, I cause excessive wear in a minimal number of miles. It is likely that ASICS would have determined the shoes were not defective, so I saved myself the postage and tossed them in the trash. I am not faulting ASICS for this particular pair of shoes. Weird stuff happens to me, and I’m chalking this up to my Charlie Brown style of luck.

But, the big find here is that ASICS directed me to the manufacture date on the tongue of the shoe. Bingo! The shoes were manufactured 6 months before I purchased them. Some retailers are saying the shoes deteriorate regardless of wear and must be replaced after 12 months, even if they just sit in the box. If that is so, I paid $115 for a half-life pair of shoes because they were already 6 months deteriorated in the stockroom? Give me a break.

Folks, this doesn’t sit well. I sent a query to ASICS to get their opinion on the “replace every 12 months” theory, and they said it is “half right.” They stated that performance running shoes break down with time, and if a shoe sits in the box for two years and has never been worn, it has only about 50% of the life left in the shoe. The EVA cushioning hardens with time and loses its shock absorption. They pointed out that this is industry-wide and not just an ASICS issue (I figured that much).

So here’s your math problem for today. If a pair of shoes is:

  1. In the box for two years and has never been worn, and
  2. Has about 50% of the life left

Wait, what? Help me here–how much wood could a woodchuck chuck? I mean, how much running can a running shoe run…?

A kind running friend took pity on me and explained it to me: if the shoes are new in the box for two years and have about 50% of the shoe life left, that means the shoes are good for approximately 200-250 miles of running (since the mileage rule is, on average, 300-600 miles). That pretty much makes the replace every 12 months idea a bunch of hooey.

Given the above, that also means if the shoes are new in the box for one year, they would have the full shoe life remaining, correct? Again, the replace every 12 months theory seems to be losing traction.

To get to the bottom of this, I checked around at local athletic stores. Reputable stores. The sales associates told me this:

  • Store #1: Did not know how long a running shoe should last; no idea whether it would be miles or age. I’m assuming the athletic store gig is temporary for this associate.
  • Store #2: Replace every 6 to 7 months, depending on how much you wear them. Six months if you run a lot; one year would be pushing it no matter how little you run.
  • Store #3: Approximately 500 miles; never heard of the age rule. I said that I have a pair of running shoes I purchased three years ago and have never worn them (this is true–I simply don’t like the shoes) and I was told those should be fine.

Bottom line here seems to be that nobody knows. Call me crazy, but I really, really liked the ASICS Gel Cumulus 15 and have replaced them with the 16. I tried on some others, but nothing compared. I’m learning to run without shuffling, but again, I have a manufacture date of six months ago. Bets on how long they’ll last?

New version of the running shoe. ASICS Gel Cumulus 16.
ASICS Gel Cumulus 16

What’s your favorite running shoe and how often do you replace them?

Cheers!
Kelly

Comfy Shoes for Work and Weekend: Ciera Dusk by Clarks Artisan

As promised, I’m sharing with you another awesome pair of shoes. I love these because they look fantastic dressed up at work as well as with jeans and a tee on the weekend. Who doesn’t love a comfy and versatile shoe?

This little beauty is the Ciera Dusk in Grey Leather. The color is grey/brown, and I can’t quite decide if it looks more grey or more brown, which is a plus because it goes with both! This pair is from the Clarks Artisan collection and is leather inside and out and has a 3″ heel. It has a rubber sole which I like because it’s relatively quiet. No tip-toeing around that authoritative clack you get with some heels.

Clarks Artisan Ciera Dusk

I can’t say enough about this shoe! My feet stay pain-free for the 9+ hours I wear them at the office and they couldn’t be more cute. I’ve worn them with dress pants, a skirt and tights, and jeans. I was able to say goodbye to two older pairs of shoes when I brought these home. They replaced a pair of navy pumps that had been causing some toe crunch, and a pair of cheap tan pumps that were looking too worn for my taste. Since I’ve been on a downsizing spree, that’s a bonus.

It seems I’m becoming partial to Clarks. As long as they keep making super stylish and comfortable shoes, I’m okay with that (and so are my feet)!

Cheers!
Kelly

Click HERE to purchase Ciera Dusk by Clarks on Amazon using the Chubs Lived Here link.

Walk a Mile in My Shoes…or at Least These Shoes

For some reason, if you’re a woman, having an office job is synonymous with wearing heels that pinch the toes together, cause blisters, and wreak havoc on your arch.  Lest you think us women put this on ourselves [entirely], I recall a conversation between a couple of friends wherein one stated that she wore the same outfit to work twice, one week with flats and the next week with heels.  When she wore the heels, she got compliments on how dressed up she was.  Same outfit.  Ugh.

I can’t explain this thinking, this warped perception, especially since men can wear the same three suits for years, never don a pair of heels, and be deemed dressed up every day.  But I’m not here to get on my soapbox about double standards (beyond what I’ve just dropped).

I’m here to say that I am done with painfully limping through my days at work – I am liberating my feet from the shackles of awful (cute as they may be) shoes that were not made for walking, much less running to the copier.  So over it.

Here I am in my 48th year, and I have finally given myself permission to wear comfortable shoes.  Wow.  Sounds simple, even superficial, but let me tell you it is huge.  Don’t think for one minute I’m giving up fashion.  You can’t make me.  I do love a cute shoe, with a heel, and I have found some that are…wait for it…comfortable!  Yes I did.

I’ll still wear flats to work when I’m so inclined, and kick around evenings and weekends in flops, flats, and athletics, but how could I not share this with you?  Everyone deserves to be in on this.  I have a few pairs of good looking, comfy work shoes so far, and promise to fess up any time I find another that fits the bill.  We need to have each other’s backs (or feet) on this!  Without further ado, here are the three pairs of shoes that are currently helping me maintain my sanity, what’s left of my orthopedic health, and my sense of fashion:

First, a big no-brainer is the tried and true mary jane.  This is the Roller Rink from Aerosoles.  A fully enclosed stable shoe with a 3″ heel and a wide toe box (that’s a big deal for me – the piggies need some wiggle room).  I like this shoe not only because it’s as cute as can be, but also because it can be worn in the summer without stockings and in the winter with tights.  A great look year-round.  Aerosoles is good about providing a nice cushioned foot bed too.  Always a plus!

Roller Rink from Aerosoles. Wear these with pants, skirts and dresses – any time of year.

Next is an open-toe option from Clarks Artisan – the Wessex Shay.  This shoe is made with soft leather and nubuck, and although it has a 3 1/2″ heel, it also has a platform in the front so it doesn’t feel like 3 1/2″.  I have to say, this shoe is comfy and I get more compliments when I wear these than any other.  There is a lot going on style-wise: peep toe, sling-back, windowpane cutouts.  I wear this shoe a lot – also with pants, skirts, and dresses.  You can see this heel is not as chunky as the Roller Rink heel, thus, less stable.  If you’re wobbly in high heels, be sure you test this one out before committing.

Wessex Shay from Clarks Artisan. Super comfy and super stylish summer shoe.

Third in the line-up today is the Shira Brenna also from Clarks Artisan.  Of these three shoes, this one is the most comfortable.  It is described as an open-toe, slingback “shootie.”  It too has a 3 1/2″ heel, and this one does not have a front platform, so it feels like a true 3 1/2″ heel.  If I could change one thing about this shoe it would be to add a platform for even more comfort.  But, see that soft leather that wraps the foot?  It feels like my feet are wrapped in silk!  I have them in tan (below), but am seriously considering a pair in black as well since I’ll wear these as long as they’ll have me.

Shira Brenna from Clarks Artisan. Feels like my feet are wrapped in silk!

So there you have it – comfy and stylish heels you can wear to work and not feel like the tootsies have been through a battle at the end of the day.  Who knew?

Cheers!
Kelly