The shoe Review #5: The Final Breakdown

we’ve reached the end. Surprisingly the tops show little wear while the insides and soles are beaten down. well maybe not so surprisingly as I don’t walk on the tps of my feet…

Technically speaking, this post should have been posted earlier in the month because that’s when I switched out my walking shoes for a new pair. In case you had forgotten the shoes in question were the above pictured New Balance #574.

The reason I held off posting is that I was trying to find more official information on the length of time a pair of sneakers should last. Figuring companies would best know about their own product, I sent New Balance an e-mail. I never heard back. Well, that’s not entirely true. I was sent a form e-mail thanking me for my interest and telling me that my opinion was important to them. Then I heard nothing.

So I branched out.

I currently have several e-mail inquiries asking about the duration of time a pair of sneakers should be worn (or milage as that sounds more like something they would test for). Thus far, no responses. But I remain hopeful that someone will get back to me with somewhat of an answer. To be honest, if they do, I will probably buy their shoes next just out of respect for the fact that they bothered to answer my question. Or at least attempted to do so.

So without any official information I am left with the tidbit I found in a fitness article that stated sneakers should be replaced every 300-500 miles of wear. As you know I was doubtful my sneakers were going to make it that long. They were shy of the 300 mile mark when they started showing really worn spots on the soles of the shoes. But they didn’t hurt my feet so I kept wearing them. The worn spots gradually got more and more worn.

But again, my feet showed no signs of discomfort. And the soles retained their integrity. So I kept wearing them.

Finally, I felt a sore spot on my pinky toe that usually heralds the beginning of a blister if I don’t stop what I am doing. I decided this was a good point to stop wearing the sneakers instead of wearing them until I actually got the blister.

Surprisingly, the part hurting my toe was not due to the sole wearing away, but the the interior foam of the insole breaking up in little chunks. There was a small chunk of the interior foam missing under the spot where my pinky toe hit. For about a week prior I was seeing little bits of stuff attach to my socks and thought nothing of it. Apparently this was the insole giving up the ghost. While I couldn’t get a decent picture of it, the worn spot where the foam is missing on the heel looks much the same as the spot under my pinky toe.

So I watched the slowly melting away sole only to be undone by the insole.

I’m sure there is a metaphorical lesson in that, but we’ll leave it and move on to mileage.

On the day I decided I was not going to wear the shoes any more, I checked my charts and added up the mileage. The final total of usage clocked in at 538.6 miles. This was calculated using both the treadmill and a pedometer so there may be a little bit of wiggle room in the numbers but I am confident it is pretty close to accurate.

If the 300-500 mile gage is also accurate it means that my New Balance exceeded expectations. As I didn’t expect them to even meet the 300 mile mark, I am both pleased and astounded. Time wise I am a little put out as the shoes only lasted three and a half months and I was hoping it would be more, but I can’t really blame the shoes for that. I’m the one who walked that many miles in that short a time span. Of course, I am kind of proud of that as well so its not really a complaint. I was just hoping I would only have to buy new sneakers every six months instead of every three.

But I’ll live.

Expecting a longer life though meant that I didn’t look up a new pair of sneakers to try for the next round. I simply re-ordered another pair of New Balance #574s. I will be looking into trying out a new pair afterwards though and I have three months in which to find them. Perhaps someone from one of the companies will get back to me and I will have an idea what to choose.

At the moment I have none.

Although I think it might be interesting to see how my weight affects the duration of my shoe usage. Perhaps as I get lighter, the shoes will last longer. Who knows? I certainly don’t, but I think it will be fun to find out.

If any of you out there have any recommendations for sneakers used primarily for walking, let me know in the comments. I’d like to have multiple options to look into trying. After all, if I am doing the walking I might as well see how different shoes hold up during my not so scientific tests.

The Shoe Review #4

Wear at end of month three: 347 miles

I can admit when I am wrong. And in all fairness, I was wrong. On my last shoe review, I predicted that my sneakers would not last another month. The only article I could find estimated the length of a sneaker’s life was between 300 -500 miles and I lamented that my sneakers would not last to reach 300 miles. I was wrong.

A quick recap, for those who missed earlier reviews. Noticing that my increase in exercise was causing my shoes to wear out (kind of an obvious outcome honestly), I was curious to see just how long my shoes were lasting. Also I actually walked a hole in the bottom of my last pair and ended up with a bad raw spot on my toe so I figured monitoring the shoes and their life span might not be a bad thing in general.

So the shoes I bought were the New Balance classic 574s and I have been wearing them ever since. The first month they spent on my feet I took them 118 miles. This was predominantly over an asphalt paved walking trail near my house. At the end of this time some of the treads were wearing down a little ,but they obviously still had a lot of life in them.

Month two of wearing these shoes added 115 more miles onto the wear and to my dismay, I noticed that where the balls of my feet pressed into the shoe, the black rubberized sole was beginning to show spots of the white undersole. I realized I didn’t know how long sneakers were designated to last (and two months of wear seemed really short) so I went looking and after wading through scads of information about wearing the right sneakers for you (ie. running vs. walking and so on) I finally found an article that plainly stated sneakers should last between 300-500 miles.

While I was determined to wear the shoes to the end of their useful life, I did not think that they would make it another entire month. I thought my final post would be this month, a review in memoriam if you will. As my sneakers saw 233 miles worth of use at that point I was ready for a gone too soon style review. I was prepared. Black veil and mourners at the ready. Okay, it was more black eyeliner and a beagle next door who wails when the UPS van drives by each afternoon, but still I was prepared to relinquish the shoes into the great beyond. And professional mourners are both expensive and prone to be insulted at mourning a pair of sneakers.

But no, lo and behold the mourners were not needed (although the beagle wail is a daily inevitability).

We have reached the end of three months of active use. I have added 114 more miles to the sneakers and my feet are still fine. There is more white showing, but there is no discomfort and no blisters of any sort in evidence on my feet. I will say though that as the temperatures are still soaring in defiance of the calendar, most of this month’s walking has been done on a treadmill rather than on the walking trail.

I’m not sure if the rubberized human hamster track is kinder to sneakers than asphalt or not, but I do know that I will be using them on the treadmill rather than on the walking trail for the remainder of their lives. I am still committed to wearing them until they can not be worn without injury (aka blisters) but as my last pair failed catastrophically when I was on the walking trail at the furthest point from my house and the damage occurred because I had to then walk home, finishing them out where I can just stop immediately is my plan. So treadmill only from here on out.

Currently I am sitting on three full months of use and 347 miles worth of walking in my New Balance sneakers. I don’t think I’ll get another full month out of them, but as you can plainly see, I’ve been wrong before. These shoes may just have one more surprise left in them before the final breakdown. Or they could be unwearable tomorrow. Stay tuned for either one more month, or the final review and ending evaluation.

The Shoe Review #3

After 2 months of wear (233 miles)

If you’ve been following this site (and thank you very much if you have) you probably know that I have been on a quest to lose weight and reach a healthy size for my body frame. After all why should skin get all the love with products galore, sometimes your knees need some attention too. In my case they mostly needed a lessening of the load they carried and lotion. So I decided to help them out. My favorite exercise is walking. I realized that as I increased my walking, I was going through sneakers at a more rapid rate. The truth is I didn’t know how rapid a rate as I tended to pay very little attention to the bottoms of my shoes until my feet started hurting. Then I looked at the bottom and realized I killed the shoes.

In fact on my last pair I walked a hole straight through the bottom. The hole completed it’s opening mid walk and I had to hobble home with my toe scraping pavement. It was not pleasant. And it was entirely my fault for not paying attention.

A reminder of what they looked like when they were new

So this time, I decided to pay attention. After all I love my feet, too, not just my knees.

So two months ago I bought a new pair of shoes (New Balance 574 to be exact). I decided to keep track of my mileage and how long they lasted. The first shoe review post showed the brand new shoes in all their glory. The second shoe post showed them after one month of use and this third shows them after two months of use. As you can see from the picture above, these shoes have seen things.

Mostly the walking trail by my house. And no, I didn’t step in anything, that is the black rubberized sole wearing through to show the white underlayer.

The first month of use I put 115 miles on the shoes. Month two added 118 more miles. So the shoes pictured above have seen a grand total of 233 miles. Some of those miles were done on a treadmill, but the bulk of them were done on an asphalt walking trail. At the moment the sole is wearing a little thin in the center of the foot, but the shoes are still very comfortable. I’m going to continue to wear them for the moment, but truthfully, I don’t think they have another hundred miles in them which means they will need to be replaced before September.

A close up of the bottom of the shoe after 233 miles of wear

While I know how long these shoes lasted, the big question remains, is this good or not? How many miles are you supposed to get out of your shoes? When I went looking for an answer to this, I found a lot of hemming and hawing about the length of time depending on the use. One of the few articles I found that gave a mileage range was called How Often Should I replace my Shoes? It’s a good article linked here for those interested in checking it out.

The range given in the article is 300-500 miles. It also suggests that mileage is achieved every 5-6 months.

Um, oops.

I’ve hit 233 miles in two months. I think I can actually reach three hundred miles before the shoes reach catastrophic failure, i.e. blister forming toe exposure. There is no way that these shoes are going to reach anything near 500 miles.

I will not walk 500 miles.

Sorry, I couldn’t help it. The song was just dancing in my head and I had to let it out so it would stop tormenting me.

And truthfully I will reach 500 miles, just not in these shoes. But the question still remains, how good are these shoes and are they worth it or is there a better walking shoe that will last longer?

While these shoes may not last another full month, I will be doing a part four of these shoes where I do a final break down, after the shoes have completely broken down. I need to do a little more research into how long walking shoes should last and the mileage you should expect out of them before I post a final verdict. While I like the info from the article I linked above, I dislike having only one source for a review like this. So I am off to do some sneaker research. If anyone has any suggestions for me to look into feel free to send them my way either in the comments or as an e-mail. I will be looking into both suggested survival times and possible alternatives for my next pair of shoes.

My impressions at this point are that they are good shoes that are comfortable to wear. I am a little unhappy with the thought of ordering a new pair every two months, but I also recognize that may be my usage of the shoes rather than the fault of the shoes. Again, more research is needed before my final review. So stay tuned.

The Shoe Review Part 2

The Walking trail by my house and my most consistent exercise space

Good morning and welcome to The Shoe Review Part two.  For those who missed the first part, One month ago, I got a new pair of sneakers. New Balance 574 sneakers to be exact. As my exercise and weight loss plan relies heavily on walking, I decided to review my sneakers as I went along, seeing how well they lasted as well as how long they managed to survive. Also I wanted to pay more attention to them so I didn’t just realize I needed a new pair once I’d walked a hole in the old pair.

I’d rather avoid that in the future.

According to the New Balance Website:

Our women’s 574 sneaker is a street style favorite with plenty of personality. Brights, neutrals and even touches of shimmer — this is the shoe you plan your look around. And the sport meets chic styling pairs perfectly with everything from skirts to dresses to jeans. ($79.99)

PRODUCT DETAILS

The signature ‘80s silhouette lends your look classic style and instantly elevates your style.

ENCAP® midsole technology provides support and maximum durability

(Encap is defined as ‘a core of soft cushioning EVA in the midsole with a tough polyurethane rim for more support and durability.’)

EVA (Ethyl Vinyl Acetate) foam midsole and heel for cushioning

Rubber outsole

Width sizing

So I spent $79.99 plus tax and shipping and this is the shoe I went with, although in all fairness I must admit style was not my main drive.  While I do where them on the treadmill at the gym, my most consistent use is on the walking trail near my house.  (Pictured above)  It has an asphalt pathway, occasionally flooded over and periodically shaded by trees. 

The city decided to put flood plains to use as walking trails.  The good news is no one is trying to build in the flood plains, the bad news is that the walking trails tend to flood after rains. But I love my trail so I am glad they went this route. While there are other walkers on the trail, I doubt any of them are looking at the style and personality of my footwear so I am more in it for the durability factor.

So on to the first impressions.

As you saw from the first posting, I did not buy the shoes just because I wanted a new pair.  I bought them because I managed to walk a hole in my old pair.  I did not realize how bad my old shoes had gotten until then.  I knew they were worn in, but had not looked at the bottom in a while.

As a consequence, when I put on the new shoes my feet felt like they were floating on clouds.  While it was soft and cushy, it is an unfair comparison as my previous shoes had no sole left. I will say though that I did not get any blisters with the first use which is unusual for me.  Most sneakers I get tend to rub the back of my heel raw for the first week.  These did not so I was impressed right off the bat even if the soles weren’t a good indicator.

New and unworn shoe soles

Speaking of soles, I took a picture of the brand new ones and a second showing how they look after one month of use for comparisons sake.  While they have been worn down, they are not out and still have a lot of use in them. As you can tell from the photo, many of the nubs on the sole, especially in the toe area have been worn to a nearly smooth base and have either disappeared or are reduced to outlines, shadows of their former selves. You can probably also tell I tend to walk with my weight on my toes as the heels are significantly less worn.

One month of use

This month I have kept track of miles so I know (and you know) how many miles it took to wear them to this point.  Its kind of like how many licks it takes to get to the center of a lolly, but with feet. 

And no licking. 

On the treadmill I trust the read out and on the walking trail I consulted a pedometer. I then put everything in a chart. In the month since I purchased these shoes I have walked a total of 115.2 miles in them. Personally, I did not think I walked that much in a month and am kind of impressed with myself.

So to sum up, the shoes are good, have so far lasted over a hundred miles and begin their month two journey. I will post at the end of month two, hopefully after another hundred or so miles and we will see how they are standing up to the wear and tear. Once they have reached the end of their useful lives, I will do a final review and decide if it is worth replacing with a new version of the same product or going with some other brand, make or model. Stay tuned.

The Shoe Review: The beginning…

Brand new shoes right out of the box, and yes, they are on my desk.

As a large part of my exercise plan includes walking, shoes, or more specifically sneakers, have become an integral part of my world. They are the shoes I choose not because they are pretty or match my outfit or my mood. These are the workhorses of the footwear division. The infantry in my own battle of the bulge. Last week I had to bury a pair. I not only walked the sole off of them but managed to walk my pinkie toe right through the bottom.

sadly worn out

A new pair was duly ordered and a slight hitch was put in my schedule while I waited. Luckily delivery was swift and today we break in the new sneakers. As I waited though, I realized that I did not remember exactly how long my shoes lasted. I knew it was less than a year though, well pretty certain anyway. I also didn’t know how many miles it took to wear the sole down far enough to expose my toe to the harsh reality of the asphalt covered walking trail at the edge of my neighborhood. While it may be similar to finding out how many licks it takes to get to the center of a tootsie roll pop, I decided that with this pair, I wanted to find out.

Fresh new soles

So our contender: The Nike New Balance #574. Starting out Monday June 10th with factory fresh soles. They will be put into use today and I will record the mileage and wear, reporting back in one month and every month thereafter until they need to be replaced. It’s time to find out exactly how long my sneakers last and what exactly I am putting them through.