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Brooks - how to clean running shoes

Look after your trainers and they'll look after you!

runABC writer Alan Newman with a salutary tale

It was many years ago when we parted company, but it still hurts. My first off-road shoes were the original Brooks Cascadia – now in its 16th iteration – and they helped me stay more or less upright in an incredibly muddy trail weekend in the beautiful Forest of Dean – Britain's first National Forest Park. Torrential rain had made the 14-mile course a quagmire in places. 

I had stayed for the weekend in a homely B&B, with a wonderful landlady. You know the type: all smiles, rosy cheeks, and bonhomie – happily feigning interest in my obsession with running. Couldn't do enough to make my brief stay comfortable. She even cleaned the mucky trail shoes that I left to air dry on the porch, stuffed with newspaper and bog roll, not wanting to sully the pristine soft furnishings of my temporary abode.

As I set out for my recovery run before breakfast I saw them – gleaming and looking as new! And that was the last time I ever ran in them because that lovely, helpful landlady had washed my trainers in the washing machine, and probably dried them in the tumble dryer! 

Once I got them on my sore feet, I found they had shrunk a size and just felt – well, different. Back home I stretched, manipulated, and massaged them but they were never the same again.

And so to the nub of this story. Never, ever wash your trainers in the washing machine. They just aren't designed to withstand that sort of treatment.  Not even if you have one of those modern ones with 100 programmes (only two of which you ever use) including one for 'delicates'. 

Luckily, our friends at Brooks have produced a simple guide to cleaning running shoes without having to suffer a loss like mine. Here's a link to True Grime: How To Clean Running Shoes

Fortunately, it's not too complicated or time-consuming to keep your trainers in tip-top condition, even those fancy mesh uppers that keep our tootsies cool on a run. No special equipment is required. Just a bit of elbow grease, some warm water, mild detergent of choice, a small brush and/or cloth, and a bucket or bowl, plus some newspaper or paper towels.

One handy tip I would add for cross country spikes that works wonders is to always unscrew the spikes, wash and dry them after every race, then apply a small amount of vaseline to the spike holes when the shoes are clean to prevent rust and any problems when re-inserting.

So go on, get out there and get muddy this winter. Look after your trainers and they'll look after you – but beware friendly landladies in National Forests!

Image provided by Brooks Running

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