General Question

Ltryptophan's avatar

Which surface will cause the least wear on running shoes?

Asked by Ltryptophan (12091points) September 7th, 2010

I have run on all of the above. I don’t know if there is a noticeable difference. The possibilities seem to be concrete, grass, rock, pebbles, sand, clay…

Is sand good for running without shoes? I have a pair of vibram five fingers that I wore for a while…But I wonder if running bare foot on the sand would be good for your feet….

What do you think about all these contrivances?

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7 Answers

lilikoi's avatar

Someone once told me that if you have the sand and the ocean you never need to get pedicures. I have found this to be true.

I used to run regularly on beaches barefoot (like maybe 2–5 mi distances), but only on sand that is pretty firm, and thus at least damp. Dry sand is too soft as is sand that is too saturated. I imagine that the coarser the grains of sand, the more likely it is to be “soft”, that is for your foot to sink and for running to be a real drag because smaller particles fit together more efficiently.

Whether or not running on sand is good for you… I have heard that it is bad. It can be hard on your ankles. If you are not used to it, your legs can tire long before your lungs.

I think in general the higher coefficient of friction a surface has, the more wear would be incurred on the sole of a running shoe all other factors being equal. Concrete would probably cause the most wear on soles since they often make grooves in slab surfaces to intentionally make the surface less smooth. Rock…there are all kinds of rock. A’a and Pahoehoe lava for example. Walk on pahoehoe, no problem. Walk on lava 30 minutes your brand new shoes have holes in the bottom. I guess that makes this particular type of lava worse than concrete by far. Pebbles I imagine to be smooth and clay I would guess is smoother. Clay is also probably softer than pebbles. I’m guesing clay causes the least wear.

How do you like the Vibrams? I am thinking about investing in a pair.

Ltryptophan's avatar

@lilikoi the vibrams are nifty but the insole gets kinda pilly with use. I don’t know if they changed that since, as I was an early adopter.

We don’t have any clay tracks around here. I used to run on clay at Ft. Knox. It made me slower for sure. Me and my DS once argued about this because he stated that two miles was two miles, regardless of the strata. My time did improve drastically on the asphalt a week later though. Which he noted with silence…!!! lol anecdotally…

lilikoi's avatar


Yes I think that agrees with what I am thinking. Higher coefficient of friction is greater friction between two surfaces resulting in more wear to the softer surface and easier movement due to more drag. It is more tiring to move on a smoother surface because you have less “grip”.

Ltryptophan's avatar

yes… in deed

john65pennington's avatar

I read an article that stated that walking and running should only be in your bare feet. if thats not possible, then flip flops. how can you run in flip flops? i cannot walk in flip flops, much less run. if i did run, i would chose to run on ice.

Ltryptophan's avatar

Why ice john?

truecomedian's avatar

I found this article about a tribe of indians that run barefoot.
Pretty wild.

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