Updated: August 29th, 2012

The transitional months of spring can take a toll on running shoes—whether you’re a trail runner, a road runner, or a mix of both, a winter thaw mixed with spring showers can make the freshest shoe look and feel ages old in a matter of weeks. By following a few simple steps, you can keep shoes looking new—and most importantly—feeling as fresh as spring itself.

Keeping Clean
Spring can be especially tough on our shoes—on any given running route, there’s a mix of ice, snow, slush, mud, and enough puddles to make a simple evening run turn into an obstacle course. A key to keeping shoes in optimal shape both physically and aesthetically is cleaning them post-run. Pebbles and debris stuck between treads can permanently warp the contours of the bottom of the shoe, rock salt from thawed ice can degrade the elasticity of foam soles, and caked-on mud can inhibit the breathable materials of a shoes upper portion and cause excess moisture during long runs. For hard-to-reach pebbles, single-use floss sticks with dental picks serve as a great tool to keep outsoles free of debris. For mud and salty water, using a coarse toothbrush works wonders and does not require the use of harsh detergents which can degrade fibers within the shoe.

Keeping Dry
Among spring’s greatest challenges for runners are unexpected rain showers, deep mud puddles, and the ill-timed splash of street puddles from oncoming vehicular traffic. As with most structures, water is the enemy to the integrity of your running shoes. To counteract the effects of soaked shoes, remove the insoles from the shoes and place both shoes and insoles in a dry, well-ventilated area. For those in a rush to get back to running, placing the shoes in front of a fan will allow them to dry quickly and safely. For muddy runs leading to rest days, stuffing shoes with newspaper creates a high-absorbency solution while allowing shoes to maintain proper fit and form. Most importantly, it is critical that shoes are not placed near radiators or within drying machines—this can destroy the foam integrity in the midsole of the shoe.

Starting Rotation
True to the old adage, it is always beneficial to find a great fitting shoe and buy one in every color—or at least in a few different sets. By rotating shoes during transitional weather months, runners can keep their feet on the pavement without missing runs due to wet or muddy shoes. This important step is made all the more crucial during the wet months of March and April. By keeping multiple pairs in rotation, each set of shoes last longer, fit better, and won’t stand between you and your training plans. Additionally, your risk of injury is lowered by creating a rotation: having a dry pair for each run will prevent feet from slipping and blisters from forming. For those runners who enjoy trails, tracks, and roads, keeping a pair of trainers, trail shoes, and cross-trainers in your arsenal will not only allow you to have a fresh pair of shoes at the ready, but will help you train under any set of conditions.

Article by Brian O’Connor

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