When should you buy new running shoes? Just follow three simple rules.

When is it time to hang up a pair of old shoes? I have only two rules about this. If you meet either of these requirements, it’s time for a new set of shoes.

1. You blew a hole in your shoes. There is an exception to this rule though. My big toe nail must be sharp because I always get a hole right at the tip of my shoe. Your shoe will function just fine with a hole like this. A hole on the side is a big no no. Once the side gets ripped, that shoe is toast. You probably aren’t landing on the base of your shoe the way the shoe is designed to handle impact. Hang them up.

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2. My next rule is when your traction has worn off your done. I say this because in wet or icy conditions a smooth, worn down surface could cause you to slip or fall.

Those are the only rules you really have to follow. You might read differently from the so called "shoe experts" two different rules. Let's look at what the others say and dispell their rules.

1. Don't run more than 500 miles in a shoe. Here's why that's not true. Shoe cushioning doesn't all of the sudden magically fall apart at 500 miles. This is just some estimated number created by shoe companies so you buy more shoes. Think of it this way. I am a big guy for running. I weigh around 200 pounds and I have run over 500 miles in my running shoes. Most runners weigh less than me, so they should be able to get even more miles out of their shoes.

Your shoes don't really prevent injuries that well anyways. In fact, there are theories out there that running shoes are the cause of many running related injuries. I'm not sure what side I am on. I do know that you need good running form to help prevent injuries. I follow the principles of ChiRunning which has kept me injury free for over a year.

If you are still worried about the 500 mile rule, heres a way to get more than 500 miles out of a pair of running shoes. Take the old shoes on the trails. All the cushioning that is provided by running shoes is designed for the roads. On the trails, the ground absorbs the impact.

2. The other "shoe expert" claim is that at six months, your need new shoes. This isn't true either. I'm pretty sure your shoes won't biodegrade six months after purchase. If they still have good traction, and don't have any holes, keep on running.

For more information on why the 500 mile rule or six month rule is false, read Born to Run by Christopher McDougall. This book goes into great detail about how the running shoe causes more injuries than it prevents.

Don't spend money when you don't have to. Some runners have given up on shoes all together and are running barefoot. Don't ditch your running shoes immediately, but you can work your way into running without traditional running shoes.

- Written by David Tiefenthaler

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