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4 ideas for recycling your retired running shoes

How do you know your shoes are done, and what should you do with them?

retired running shoes

Goodbyes are tough, especially when it comes to your running shoes. Shoes are arguably the most important part of your running wardrobe, which is why runners spend so much time and money looking for the right pair. The memories and money associated with running shoes are what make throwing them away hard, but there are a few ways to extend their lifespan.

On average, runners should replace their shoes after about 600 to 800 kilometres. That said, how long your shoes last depends on cushioning, structure and durability. Any aches and pains may also indicate it’s time for a new pair of shoes. Usually, this occurs because soles are compressed and no longer provide the same level of cushioning and shock absorption, increasing the stress on your muscles and joints.

1) Treat them as a trophy

If your shoes helped you run your first marathon or complete your first sub-20 5K, take a Sharpie and write the total mileage run in the shoes and its significance to you. Record the race name, date and time, and any other events. Those who aren’t runners may think it is odd house decor, but other runners are bound to think it’s a neat idea. If you don’t want to keep the entire shoe, cut out the tongue and write the info on there. 

2) Relegate them to the gym 

Just because the cushioning may be shot for running, it doesn’t mean they can’t be worn while you lift weights or use the Stairmaster in the gym. Unless there are holes in the soles or a carbon plate… your old runners should be fine to walk around the gym, doing non-impact exercises. 

3) Donate to your local running store

Many independent running stores and Running Room locations across Canada have programs for recycled shoes, giving them to low-income communities or people in need. Contact your local running store and ask if they have a shoe recycling program. With this approach, at least you know they will go to someone in need.

4) Use them for yardwork

The garden is where all good running shoes go to die. Gardening is a strenuous activity, and you need a shoe that’s comfortable and that you’re not afraid to get a little dirty. There is nothing more honourable than grass stains on your old carbon racers.