GEAR CARE by Jamie
I confess that I usually don't wash my running shoes.
Perhaps the only time I rinse them are after my marathons,
and that's twice a year. Don't pinch you noses now but
I think running shoes are meant to look soiled, stained
and scruffed. That means you have been putting the shoes
to some serious use.
Other than after
the marathons, the other times when I get my shoes wet
are on rainy days, when out training or racing. And
unless they're caked with mud, I don't even wash my
rain soaked pairs.
Shoes are basically made of synthetics, foam and rubber.
All held together by stitches and glue. You treat them right
and they will reward you with miles and miles of nice road
trips. Think of them as your vehicle. You don't abandon your
car, right? You bought them with your hard earned money and
you have a pride of ownership. While caring for a car is a
much more complex and expensive affair, taking care of your
running shoes are not that difficult.
The following steps will guide you on how to care for your
running shoes, should they get wet or too gunky.
- Remove the laces and insoles, and rinse the dirt off them.
Don't forget to also wash all the sand and mud off the creases
in the mid and outsole.
- Open the tongue flap and stand the shoes up to drain off
excess water. Be sure not to sun-dry them. You're not producing
3. Stuff them up with wads of newsprint to absorb the water
and moisture. Replace the newsprint often.When they get reasonable dry, you should continue to stand
them up and air-dry them in the shade.
Completely drying a pair of shoes will take time, even in
warm weather. Speeding up that process with hair dryer is
not recommended, as the hot air will damage the foam and glue.
That's why it's wise to have a back up pair at the ready.
Not only will your runs not be disrupted, you will be able
to extend your shoes' lifespan as well with rotating your
shoes. It's heartening to note that more and more runners,
beginners especially, have begun to adopt the practice of
With another pair of shoe at ready, your run isn't disrupted while the soggy pair is being dried
Before we go to the care section, you may ask why wear synthetics?
Here are some of the benefits:
Apparels (including socks)
I've never gone back to wearing cotton running apparels after
moving to synthetics nearly 15 years ago. I still wear my
very first Nike technical vest bought 10 years ago, to this
day. Sure they cost more but the benefits outweigh the cost.
Plus they're much more durable too, so you get very good ROI.
- They're lighter. Some have reflective strips for added
- They usually don't have stitches in awkward places that
can risk chafing on your skin.
- They wick moisture, transferring your sweat from your
skin and moving them to the outer layer, thus cooling you.
- They complement the way you move - technologies like Nike's
FIT and adidas' Formotion come to mind.
- The better ones don't cling to your skin when wet.
- They dry faster.
- The better ones are constructed better reducing chances
of bacteria breeding, thus post-run odour will be a thing
of the past.
- They take up less space in your luggage since they can
be easily rolled up.
As with most things, there are many grades of technical apparels,
the cheaper ones are constructed from a standard piece of
fabric while the more expensive ones have different gradients,
strategic placements of vents and construction. Having said
that, even the basic ones are better than cotton. Just take
a closer look at the fabric. You'll see that the side that
touches your skin is more closely knitted while the outer
part is coarser. If you remember your basic science, you'll
know that the close knit side allows the mopping and absorption
of your sweat and the moisture is then moved to the outer
layer where it's coarseness allows better evaporation. That's
the capillary effect for you.
While you can afford to manhandle your shoes, technical running
apparels require more TLC (tender loving care). Always look
at the labels of the apparels for recommended care method. But
in general, the following usually applies:
For a fantastic write up on apparel care, read this Running
- Hand wash in cool water and remove immediately.
- Don't soak overnight.
- Line dry out of direct sunlight instead of squeezing it
like the dhobis of olden days.
- Avoid softeners as they will clog up the very microfiber
pores designed to cool you.
- Ironing is not required.
June 6th 2008