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 Bonnie Stein

          Bonnie Stein, M.Ed.

Old Shoes Are Your Enemy

By Bonnie Stein, M.Ed.

The woman in the front row was laughing, but I hadn't said anything funny. I had just announced to an audience that walking shoes should be replaced every three to five months. My arbitrary rule is if you racewalk three times a week-replace your shoes every five months, four times a week - every four months, and five times a week-every three months.

The woman in the front row announced that her shoes were over two years old and she thought they were still fine for walking. She lifted her feet to show us the "tire treads" on the soles of her running shoes. "Well, maybe I could use new shoes," she said as she noticed even the tire treads were flattened. Unfortunately, once your tire treads are worn down, the mid-sole shock absorption in your shoes is long gone. More on that later.

That woman hardly had the record for old shoes. Many times I speak to an audience or a new  racewalking class in which several people are wearing shoes older than two years. My only hope

is that they are not doing much racewalking in those shoes. The prize for old shoes goes to a woman in a Beginning Racewalking class in early 1996 who came to class wearing a pair of Nike Lady Waffle Trainers! Yellow with a blue swoosh! I wore that shoe in the late 70s. That shoe had to be in her closet for almost 20 years!

Dr. Perry Julien, a sports podiatrist in Atlanta, says that the least expensive way for racewalkers to prevent injuries and stay out of the doctor's office is to replace their shoes often. You can not see the mid-sole wear out or break down. Often what you do notice, according to Dr. Julien, are indicator pains. Those are pains in your knees, your hips, your back, and your feet. These are signs that you've let your shoes hang around too long.

That's easy to do. Shoes that we like and fit well become comfy companions. Who wants to give up a good friend? Plus, that model that you loved might have been discontinued and you just can't find something you like as much. Another problem is you probably have forgotten when you bought the shoes, so you wear them a few extra months longer than you should.

Mark Daniels, of the Sport Shoe stores in Atlanta, has a remedy that has worked well for hundreds of Atlanta racewalkers. He suggests that we write on the side of the shoe, in pen, the date we started wearing them. Daniels admits that because he works for a shoe company he might be accused of trying to sell more shoes. Yet, he explains that the mid-sole shock absorption (Air, Gel, Hydroflow, Adiprene, etc.) is not meant to last forever. Three to five months is about right for a racewalker who lands with one-and-a-quarter to one-and-a-half times their body weight.

I do not recommend using shoe glue on the soles of the shoes. It may extend the life of the bottoms of your shoes, but does nothing for the real worn out part- the mid-sole. Same for the inner soles that wear out. If you've racewalked in the shoes for more than three to five months - do yourself a favor and treat yourself to some cheap insurance.

Racewalking is a pretty inexpensive sport. No tennis racquets nor court time, no golf clubs nor green fees, no health club memberships are required. If you change your shoes often - no trips to the doctor are likely. Even four pairs of shoes per year still make racewalking and running the cheapest sports around. While a good pair of well-fitting, comfy shoes are like a good friend, replace them to keep them from becoming the enemy. And please - don't sit in the front row if you're wearing a pair of Waffle Trainers!

2007 by Bonnie Stein. All Rights Reserved.

LIMITS OF LIABILITY AND DISCLAIMER - The authors and publishers of this newsletter have used their best efforts in preparing the articles and information contained within it. Additionally, you are advised to consult with your doctor before beginning an exercise program. The authors and publishers make no warranty of any kind, expressed or implied, and shall not be liable in the event of incidental or consequential damages.

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