No matter how much we spend on running gear our sneakers will always be the most important tool in the tool box. But just like a hammer can be used in different ways to make your life easier (bet you didn’t know that) there are little hacks that can make a runner’s most important tool work better too. What’s crazy is I don’t think I’ve seen these tips and tricks all in one place before which is a shame because they are just so useful. Instead I picked up one thing at a time in the most random of places. Every time I was like ‘I wish I knew that sooner!’ So if you think this isn’t a complete list let us in on your secrets in the comments below. These are admittedly little things but they can make all the difference to how your shoes fit and feel.
You got to lace it up
Did you know that there is more than one way to lace a shoe? I didn’t for a long time either! I think it was Pinterest that made me vaguely knowledgeable on the subject. This link gives you images and videos for 12 different options. They take into account the shape of your foot to your fallen arches. When I switched to Asics I also had to switch up my lacing technique and it was a game changer. Last fall my personal medic/badass suggested I lace my work boots the same way as my running shoes and BOOM that ankle pain went away!
That second hole isn’t just for decoration
You know that second hole at the top of your shoes set further back and down from the other last one. That’s not a vent! Finish lacing your shoes here instead for a snugger fit, less heel slip and to minimize heel blisters. Amazing right? Actually the inclusion of this hole can make a big difference to a shoe and it’s something I tend to look for in a shoe always. Even though I don’t get blisters there or have heel slip I always use it for that tighter fit feel.
Insoles are a poor man’s cushioning
Once your shoes are worn out you just gotta replace them there’s no getting around that. Look for signs of wear like this (Asics) or track the miles on them. But… if you buy an otherwise good pair in the store but realize that there’s more of a pound than you like add a more expensive insole. I use my trail shoes for snowy road runs and they often hit hard. Adding a gel insole can take a poor pair of shoes and at least let you get a couple hundred km out of them.
This is an easy one and a cheap one if you ever run at night. Just swap out your regular races with a reflective pair. I bought ones like these online for less than a coffee. Some have been through multiple pairs and they are still holding up!
I’m not going to go on about this at too much length because I wrote a whole post about Road ID and why you need it here, but trust me you do. Yes we should all run with ID, and our phones might have that info stored too but… you can just have it on your shoes at all times with literally no thought. Road ID makes these cute, cheap, durable little shoe tags that can have anything you want on them. I have my name, town, husband and mom’s contact info and the fact I have no allergies or medical issues on mine but you can choose what ever you like. In any emergency you’re likely to still have your shoes and they do have a subscription service if you have more complex medial needs. Check them out here!
Tape it up
Do you know what sucks? Wet feet and seeing holes before it’s time. For wet runs some runners swear by taping up the toe box of their shoes with duct tape. It can also help to windproof a pair of shoes that are just a bit too cool for a given run. Now this only works to a point if you’re racing a half during a heavy rainfall warning then this probably won’t keep your feet dry and you might as just run through the first puddle you see.
There is no definitive science that says you have to have more than one pair of running shoes on the go at a time but it sure is nice. The idea is that it takes at least 24 hours for the foam in sneakers to decompress after a run. It could be worsened by longer runs, older kicks or heavier runners. But there’s a pretty easy, cost neutral and fun fix to all that though and that’s just having a second pair on the go too. It doesn’t really cost any more because you would wear both of them out eventually, it’s no big deal if one pair gets wet and you can match your outfits better. You can read way more about the awesome concept here!
Stud them out
Where are my northern runners in the group? Winter’s are always wintery but we know that they can be wintery in subtly different ways. Two winters ago it was a super icy type of winter.
If you have a pair of runners just about to expire with a thick-ish sole and an icy winter you can physically add studs to the bottom of your sneakers with a drill. Or screw driver if you’re really dedicated. The ideal studs to use are motorcycle studs available at your local motorcycle shop. They tend to be smaller and shorter than regular tire studs. If that’s not available to you the right length of self tapping screws with a bolt head at the hardware store work too. Bring your shoes into the store to pick the right size. If you feel them a little not all hope is lost you can add a thick pair of insoles.
In an emergency you can wash them
I don’t know where I came up with the idea that leather could never ever get wet otherwise it would be immediately ruined but it’s not true with running shoes at least. It was probably my mom but her laundry advice is not to be trusted, she bleached a lot of sweaters before we finally took it away. The lady did have white whites though. If your running shoes get so stinky or dirty that they are basically not usable anymore just throw them into the washing machine. Ideally with a few old towels on a cold cycle and they come out damn near brand new. Just keep them out of the dryer and if you want stuff them with newspaper as they dry to keep their shape that would be good too. All I do is throw them in with out work clothes and hang them to dry. Good running shoes are made well enough to take a wash or two in their lifetime while cheap ones might not be. When honey and I did a mud run a few years ago my old Asics came out the washer for the third time fine and his new Walmart originals did not.
Make them just right tight
If you’ve tried everything and just can’t get that perfect pair a lot of the fit of shoes can depend on how tight you tie them. I like my shoes tight enough while I’m running that they are uncomfortable if I drive or sit in them after the fact. The laces even tend to stretch and I have to do a double loop and knot so they stay that tight. My style of tying is by no means right. Other runners favor a pull and then slack off a bit method so it might be worth experimenting with how tight you tie your shoes. When you get it just right, you’ll know!
What running shoe hack changed your life? Do you have one for us not listed here? Share with the group because this runner at least would love to know! Leave it in the comments below!