What To Do With Old Running Shoes (And Other Fitness Gear)
If you're a runner, you are a hoarder of many things. Water bottles, recovery tools, much-coveted Nuun tubes. And of course, running sneakers.
Are you even a runner if you don't trip over a pile of these items at least once a week?
It's the name of the game, especially when it comes to running shoes. Runners are supposed to exchange their old running shoes out for new ones every couple of hundred miles!
As you can imagine, life as a professional runner involves a lot of miles- especially for some of my long-distance teammates. This means that a new pair of shoes is necessary every couple of months. Factor in the different types of shoes we wear for workouts, and you use a lot of shoes each year.
Sustainability is something we should always be thinking about—no matter how much of something we use. We're all on this Earth together after all!
So in the spirit of #GivingTuesday, I wanted to talk about some ideas for what to do with old running shoes. There are many ways to give back as an athlete, and donating or recycling gear you're not going to use anymore is a great one.
Not only does it combat excess waste, but it could also really make a difference in someone's life!
What Can I Do With Old Running Shoes?
You might be thinking if you can't use a pair of shoes anymore why anyone else would want them. Your thought process is partially correct because it definitely depends! You can't just donate any old shoe—it's actually usually preferred that you don't. (More on that later.)
But that doesn't mean the next step is the trash, either. Here are some things you can do with old shoes:
Donate Old Running Shoes
There are many organizations that formally work to distribute used running shoes. Some options are
These organizations will have drop-off locations in various cities or provide you with an address/shipping label to ship a box.
A quick Google search gave me several places accepting used shoes, including national organizations with drop-off locations near me and other local charities. Local running stores take shoes sometimes, such as Fleet Feet shoe recycling.
If there are no specific shoe donation options near you, you can even look into local youth programs, high schools, or the Salvation Army. (type your zip code in).
My track team formed a relationship with a nearby school that wanted shoes to distribute to their kids. We collected our shoes when we were done with them and passed them on to kids who otherwise probably wouldn't have had proper track running footwear.
And that's what I mean by someone maybe wanting your shoe. As pro runners, we have to get rid of shoes before a recreational runner might. Because we need them to be perfect for all the daily running. Just because it's too worn for you, doesn't mean it's too worn for someone who doesn't run at the same level.
That said, you cannot just donate anything. Make sure to check the section in this post with tips for donating old running gear if you're not sure when to donate.
Where To Recycle Old Shoes
For the shoes that aren't wearable, there are still plenty of easy options that don't involve the dumpster.
Organizations can do so much with old shoes!