When to Buy New Fitness Gear

Spring clean your fitness gearSpring clean your fitness gearWe're not sure if running and hoarding have a symbiotic relationship, but many fitness junkies do seem to have a hard time getting rid of stinky shoes, sweat-stained shirts, and sagging shorts. Here's some help figuring out when it's time to buy new workout apparel.

Sports bras: High-impact exercise accelerates the stretching of all the components of the bra that provide support. "A good general rule is that a bra lives for no more than a year if you wear it three to four times a week," says LaJean Lawson, Ph.D., an exercise scientist and expert in sports bra design. D cups may need to be replaced earlier. (Here, a list of the Best Sports Bra for Every Size.)

Shoes: The guideline of 300 to 500 miles per pair is a good generality, but Michael Aish, co-owner of the Boulder Running Company Denver Tech Center, is more concerned with how hard you wear the shoes. "If you hit the ground with a clomp and run mostly on concrete, your shoes will have a much shorter shelf-life than if you barely hear your landing and you spend a bunch of time on the treadmill," says Aish.

RELATED: Find the Best Shoes for Your Workout


Socks: If the elastic is so worn that the sock bunches up, you risk getting blisters. Extra-thin fabric on key pressure areas-under the ball of your foot, say-means you're missing out on cushioning. "Fit is key with socks," says Aish. "If your heel isn't fully covered because the fabric is stretched out, you're asking for trouble. Get rid of them."

Bottoms:
You might need to toss your bottoms if the elastic in the underwear liner is slack; if the words on the care label are so faded you can't read them; if you have to use the string in the waistband to keep them up-or if the string is MIA.

We've got you covered when it comes time to buy your new workout outfit. For reviews and recommendations, check out our Fitness Gear Guides.

Prep For Workout Success
So you've weeded through everything, but how do you organize your clothing, shoes, food, and accessories for easy, neat access? We asked Runner's World readers for their best suggestions.

"I keep my nonclothing stuff in a couple bins. One for fuel (gels, chews, water belts); one for winter wear (arm sleeves, beanies, gloves); and one for miscellaneous stuff (pace cards, ibuprofen, ChapStick)."
--Katie Pace, Colorado Springs

"I have four baskets on a shelf in my bathroom. One basket holds bottoms (shorts, running skirts, and capris). One basket holds tops (short sleeves and tanks). One basket holds socks and headbands and hats. The final basket holds sports bras and underwear. I also have a drawer in my closet that holds all my running gear: fuel belt, headphones, sunglasses, hydration tablets, and so on. I got so tired of never finding what I needed when I wanted to go for a run. Now I come home from a run, throw my stuff back in the drawer, and it's ready for the next time."
--Melodie Monberg, Colorado Springs

RELATED: Your Month-by-Month Guide to a Fitter You

"The best thing I got was a hanging sweater holder. I have all my bras and tanks on top, running shirts in the second and third shelves, capris second to the bottom, and pants at the bottom. My rule is if it doesn't fit, I don't need it. I keep all the opposite-season stuff in a drawer I usually don't use. Every six months I switch it all out and if anything looks bad, it's gone."
--Tryna Hermanson, Sherwood, Oregon

"I leave for long runs at utterly ridiculous hours, so I keep a basket in the pantry with my hat, water bottle, hydration belt, gels, arm reflector straps, and a disposable poncho I can grab in case of rain. That way, I don't need to turn on every light and fumble through cabinets and wake the entire house."

--Alisa Bonsignore, Pleasanton, California

RELATED: Weird But Innovative Workout Gear You Haven't Tried Yet

By Dimity McDowell, Runner's World