When and why should I replace my running socks?
Looking after your feet is a number one priority for any runner and whilst we spend a great deal time researching and then investing hundreds of £'s on our running shoes, we often neglect the product we wear between our feet and trainers.
We now use platforms like Strava, Garmin Connect and Fetcheveryone to log runs and track the mileage to each pair of trainers and ensuring we replace them in a timely manner, but this is not the norm for our running socks.
Most runners are familiar with the recommendations for the replacement of running shoes and although this varies by brand and style, the normal 'life' of a running shoe is 450 - 600 miles. Runners who use a stability or cushioned shoe usually need to change their shoes after less foot miles than neutral runners who tend to get a bit longer out of the life of their shoes. However this has changed in the past few years with the advances in performance foam. Having said that, this has always been the case for racing flats and now with carbon plated footwear having a much lower life expectancy, of between 150 - 300 miles due to the lighter design and materials used in construction.
We are now greeted by the alert from the fitness app 'its time to replace your trainers' as the new trigger to hit the internet to search for that next pair.
So do we pay the same attention to our running socks?
Along with our running shoes our sports socks wear out too. Sports socks are more durable than a casual sock but we are asking a lot more of them during our workouts. Sports socks are designed to give extra support and cushioning to key areas of the foot, therefore any loss of thread or structure over time and use will have a negative effect on the performance of the sock.
There is no hard or fast rule or a useful mileage, each runner strikes the ground differently, with some runners reporting 1000's of miles from a single pair. And this is the same for socks, foot shape can cause shorter life expectancy for your running socks too. But we can be aware of key signs that tell us it's time to replace our socks;
Thin Spots \ Holes - A thin spot or a hole in your socks can be the difference between blistering or not blistering.
Stretching \ Loss of Form - Socks that become too stretched or misshaped can bunch up inside your shoe causing rubbing, pressure and blistering.
Hot Spots - Hot spots on your feet can be caused by over wear of the socks or breakdown of the structure.
Sock Care - Another good tip is to avoid tumble drying your socks. Whilst this is not always possible you can extend the life of your socks by avoiding the tumble dryer. Using a tumble dryer can speed up the breakdown in fibres used in the construction and cause increased stretching and subsequently loss of performance.
But changing your trainers and not replacing your socks can have serious implications to a future run, and if this run is your A race you will rue the day you didn't replace those socks.
Remember... keep your feet happy. Monitor the condition of your socks, and when they are visibly worn, or if you notice uncomfortable rubbing it is REPLACEMENT time. IF not before!!
The choice of running socks has never been so good, from the material and thickness choices between cushioned to ultra light. Then your preferred length; be it no-show, mini-crew, crew to over the calf. Before we even go into regular socks to toe socks debate. Then the recovery or injury prevention benefits with compression. You are blessed or maybe daunted by the choices available.