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When should I replace my running shoes?

When should I replace my running shoes? Finding the right running shoe is an iterative process and there is no one perfect running shoe suitable for everyone. The perfect fit has to do with the shape of your foot, your running style and the terrain you run on. In fact, there are runners who don’t seem to need shoes at all. Many endurance sport injuries are purportedly caused by using worn out shoes, and there are many factors which help a runner determine whether it is time for a change of shoes.

When should I replace my running shoes?

One important factor is mileage – one school of thought is to replace running shoes every 250 miles, where others recommend changing shoes after running 300-500 miles. So how should a runner gauge his mileage? This is where your training log comes in. Documenting your effort is the best gauge on getting a true sense of what is right for you.

Time is another factor – a generally accepted duration is 6 months. This has been calculated by assuming a regular weekly schedule of 3 to 5 mile runs / 4 days a week. A runner who follows that schedule would change shoes around the 300-500 mileage mark. Logically, a runner who runs more miles would find it necessary to replace his/her shoe earlier than the general 6-month rule.

Other important factors include weight and running style. Clydesdale/Athena runners (like myself) might find themselves changing shoes more often as carrying extra weight can break down shoes faster. Lightweight runners who are heavy footed or use unique running techniques will also burn through shoes quicker.

How can you tell if your shoes are showing signs of wear? Place your shoes at eyesight level and look at the back of your shoes. If the soles look worn out and appear uneven, there could be some damage to the midsole. The midsole is one of the more important parts of the shoe. However, finding a defect is not easy. If you feel tightness, fatigue, aches and pains while running, then it can be an indication of midsole damage. Try twisting your shoe, if it twists easily then it might have a damaged insole. Similarly you can check the other parts of the shoe — wear can affect the cushioning, back heel, arch point or the toe box of the shoe as well.

Knowing the condition of your shoes is important because neglecting their condition may lead to injury. A tip for longer shoe life, try rotating shoes during a training week. Not only will it reduce mileage on each pair, it is a great way to test different brands to determine which shoe is giving you the best performance.

Finding the right running shoe is not an exact science, it depends on the various factors I have mentioned above (plus more). You are the best person to determine what works. Log your training and keep notes about how you feel, plus how your shoes feel, and you will quickly be able to answer the question, “When should I replace my running shoes?” for yourself.

Prebiotics and Probiotics

Digestion is the way us humans process food into energy. When our digestive system is functioning optimally, it is the biological fueling system that keeps us active and engaged. Probiotics (basically ingestible bacteria) are a well known element in helping most of us improve upon this system. When ingested in the proper proportion, probiotics can be quite beneficial for a healthy individual.

Some of the purported benefits of probiotic intake include:

  • Management of lactose intolerance
  • Prevention of diarrhea
  • Reduced risk of colon cancer
  • Lowering of (bad) cholesterol and blood pressure
  • Improved immune system function

However, it is important to note that some of these potential benefits are being reported from preliminary research. The theory behind taking probiotics is to balance good and bad bacteria (also referred to as pathogens) in the gut. However, there is some proof that probiotics can be harmful for certain populations. For instance, in the study Probiotic prophylaxis in predicted severe acute pancreatitis, a correlation between the consumption of probiotics (in people with an existing illness) and mortality was shown. Because of this study and others like it, please consider your own health before considering probiotics.

If you think probiotics might be right for you consider taking prebiotics as well. Prebotics are indigestible carbohydrates that usually encourage the growth of probiotics in the body. Prebiotics can be found naturally in certain fruits and vegetables such as oats, wheat, garlic, bananas, asparagus, tomatoes and onions, and they can also be obtained from grains and legumes. Because of probiotics’ ability to live inside the body and prebiotics’ ability to encourage the growth of probiotics, both have gained popularity in the field of health and wellness.

Remember to Breath

No matter what area of fitness you are involved in, practicing your breathing and maximizing your oxygen intake is essential. One of the biggest culprits of bad breathing techniques is novice weightlifters. Newbies to the weight room are often witnessed holding their breath while lifting heavy loads (myself included). It is true that anaerobic activity uses little oxygen in the body to create energy. However, when most people are engaged in heavy resistance exercise arterial hypertension goes up. If arterial hypertension gets too high, the lifter is potentially at a higher risk of a stroke (see Influence of breathing technique on arterial blood pressure during heavy weight lifting).

During aerobic activity, your breathing pattern can be a key indicator of exertion. Hyperventilation is your body’s way of cooling you down and also its attempt to get more oxygen into your body. For extended endurance activity, a good rule of thumb is to operate at a level where it is still comfortable for you to engage in conversation with someone else. If you are involved in short duration, high intensity, aerobic activity (as known as HIIT training) the rules are a bit different but rhythmic, full breathing techniques can still prove beneficial.

If you would like to get better at breathing there are numerous resources available ranging from how-to books to yoga classes. The benefits of proper breathing techniques only begin at optimizing oxygen consume… some of the additional studied benefits are unique to the sport or activity you are participating in. These additional benefits include reduced stress, reduced risk of injury, and operating at a higher metabolic rate… to name a few.

Your Fitness Journey Should Start Now!

Just like most popular worthwhile endeavors, there is a plethora of information out there about health and fitness. The Internet has a lifetime of information you can consume about various, and sometimes competing, ways to get healthy or start a fitness program. With all this information available to you mere keystrokes away, when do you say enough is enough and get started?

The answer is now!

You probably aren’t studying for a fitness exam. And if you are an adult, there is little you need to mentally prepare for… you learned enough in high school to do something. Get up from the computer and get out there. Shorten the distance between contemplation and action. Fitness is a “learn as you go” proposition anyway. To get started most people need only to simply put one foot in front of the other and repeat. You don’t get your heart rate elevated by planning, fitness requires doing. So get started now! If something is not working for you spend some time to make the needed adjustment, then road test (or gym test) what you’ve discovered. You don’t like what you are currently doing? Take a class and learn as you go.

Bottom line, there is nothing wrong with researching and planning, but not doing this in tandem with exercise is simply your excuse to not get started. Start slow, but burn (calories) as you learn. Take the first step to a better you today!

Meditation Leads to Better Concentration

Well honed concentration skills are a cornerstone of being able to perform at our peak. Concentration is the ability to do a chosen task by focusing on the outcome and either blocking or mitigating distractions.

Recent studies have shown that concentration can be improved through meditation:

Meditation Leads to Better Concentration

Meditation is the practice of channeling our own consciousness through various forms of relaxation techniques. One of the many benefits from meditation is a more focused mind. When we are able to channel our focus, we improve our chance of achieving optimum performance. Anecdotal evidence suggests that undisturbed focus can even help people overcome personal limits.

Roger Bannister is a perfect example of this. It was a steadfast held belief that no one could ever run a four-minute mile. Yet Mr. Bannister broke this barrier by repeatedly visualizing this accomplishment in his mind’s eye so intensely that he was able to achieve a physical result, a 3:59 mile. He not only overcame a personal limit, he forced people to rethink the limits of human potential. Once Mr. Bannister had set the precedent, and people “knew” it was possible several others duplicated this feat within a year.

Getting back to mere mortals like myself, in the psychomotor study referenced above, meditators took Psychomotor Vigilance Task (PVT) tests after meditating (which is a fancy way of saying they stared at LCD screens, and their response times were measured between seeing an image and pressing a button after being aware of the image’s presence). In this particular study, those who had gone through some sort of meditation (even if they are not experienced meditators) performed better during PVT testing, thus showing measurable improved mental performance.

Making Fitness Fun

This week we are going to discuss making fitness fun. Too many of us drag ourselves to the gym to get in a quick workout because of some sort of self-imposed obligation. While the gym is great, why do we drive 20 minutes to sit on a treadmill for 30 minutes?

Fortunately more and more people are finding ways to exercise outside the gym, whether in a local or national park, the beach, a playground, or even their own backyard. For instance, simply jumping rope in your garage for 15 minutes is a great workout. It enhances and tones your legs, improves cardiovascular health, and does wonders for your vertical leap.

Hitting the dance club for a night of dancing (not drinking!) is another great example; it’s good exercise and allows you to enjoy the company of friends while getting a full body workout. If you want to try something to really move your muscles, take a hip hop dancing class.

If you are looking for something more serene, try an outdoor tai chi, yoga, or qi gong class. These ancient movement regimens combine smooth body motion and meditation to help improve overall wellness.

If you don’t want to go far from home and you are a video game junkie, the Wii and Microsoft Kinect are offering some increasingly intriguing options to have some fun while elevating your heart rate. Do you have any good ideas not mentioned here? Please share them by leaving them in the comments section below.