Runners rely on quality footwear to keep their feet happy. Knowing when to replace running shoes is very important for runners.
A broken-down pair of shoes can cause a runner to change his or her gait, which can lead to an unfortunate injury.
How Long Do Running Shoes Last?
The question of how long a running shoe will and should last does vary by the runner. There is, however, common practice and conventional wisdom. The average runner finds a pair of shoes that lasts somewhere between 300-500 miles.
For a runner who runs on average 20 miles per week, that means shoes would require replacing every 4-6 months.
Side note: Running 20 miles each week (with an occasional lower mileage week to account for injury or busy times) will net a runner 1,000 miles in a calendar week. It seems like a reachable running goal when it is broken down that way, doesn’t it?
A person’s running style will also contribute to the frequency in which a pair of shoes must be replaced. Neutral runners may find shoes last longer, while someone who supinates may need to replace shoes more often.
In addition, lighter runners may be able to get more miles out of a pair of shoes. Often times heavier runners find the cushion breaks down more quickly.
As a rule, minimalist shoes also do not last as long as shoes with more cushion.
How Do You Know When to Replace Running Shoes?
✓ Toe wears through the toe box
A shoe can wear in the toe box – on the top of the shoe or on either side. A shoe with a hole on top can denote normal wear and tear, implying it is time for new shoes.
However, it can also mean the runner should size up. Most runners find they require a running shoe to be a one-half size larger than their everyday shoes.
✓ Shoes seem to have lost cushion
Once a shoe has lost its cushion, it loses the ability to absorb shock. Then, it will need replacing. If your legs and feet seem fatigued earlier in the run than normal, and your body needs more rest time, your shoes may need replacing.
✓ Injury or discomfort
Some runners can tell their shoes need replacing with telltale pain or discomfort. For example, for some runners, shin pain starts when shoes have become old.
If you notice new discomfort anywhere related to running, such as your feet, ankles, calves, hips, etc., examine your shoes.
Blisters or rub marks on your feet can also mean the shoes are worn out and require replacing, assuming the runner has not changed something else such as socks or increased mileage too quickly.
✓ Sole of the shoe has lost traction
Turn your shoe over. What do the treads look like? It doesn’t matter how it looks on the top or the bottom shows clear, pronounced wear patterns. The more a person wears a pair of shoes, the more worn down the grip and traction become on the shoes.
Looking at the bottom of a pair of shoes also helps a local running store diagnose running styles and issues such as pronation and supination.
Different Terrains – Different Wear and Tear
Shoes that are worn to run on roads will wear more quickly than shoes worn exclusively on a treadmill or on trails.
That’s because dirt, grass and other soft surfaces will wear down the outer sole of the shoe less than a hard surface.
How to Extend the Life of Your Shoes
- Use running shoes for running only. Miles’s shoes are worn for other things!
- Rotate between two or more pairs.
- Remove the shoes properly. NEVER slide your shoes off without untying them.
- Avoid the dryer (while it is okay to wash your shoes, avoid the hot water of a washing machine and do not put them in a dryer).
- Do not leave them in extreme temperatures; it may be tempting to put your shoes in the sunshine to air out, but this can cause them to break down faster.
Tips To Making A Pair Last
Runners know that shoes are not cheap. And while some know just how important having good running shoes are, they don’t mind spending a decent amount of money on a high-quality pair every half a year or so. But there are ways to help prolong the shelf life of the shoes.
This includes wearing them only to run. Wear CrossFit sneakers for CrossFit, Zumba shoes for Zumba and running shoes for running.
This also helps to prevent injury since the ankles and feet are protected from rolling and free to move in other pairs based on the activity the pair of shoes are designed for.
Make sure to keep the shoes clean after a trail run when gravel and small rocks can find itself wedged into the nooks and cranny of the soles. Not only can this wear away at the material, but it can also cause injury due to straining.
Make sure to take the time to properly take the shoes off the right way. Don’t use one foot to slip the other foot out of the shoe after a run. This causes wear to the back of the shoes. Think of it as bending down for one more stretch and untie the shoes.
Why Do Some Runners Rotate Multiple Pairs of Shoes?
There are many benefits to rotating multiple pairs of shoes. First, resting a pair of shoes a day between use allows the cushion in the shoe to “bounce back.”
Shoe engineers state that it takes 24 hours for a pair of shoes to spring back into shape. Giving shoes that time will not only extend its life, it will also help prevent injury.
Second, the shoe gets an opportunity to air out between use. This is especially useful after running in snow or rain.
Many runners benefit from different shoes for various types of workouts. A serious runner may warm up in one pair of shoes, then change into lighter ones for a track workout, only to change back into the first pair for the cool down.
This is first because speed work is best completed in light shoes with less cushion, and partly because those same shoes will not last as long. Why waste those precious miles of warm-up and cool down on the expensive track shoes?
Some athletes favor certain shoes for mid-distance runs, and other styles for longer, double-digit runs. Other athletes find a brand they like and stick with it.
\It’s not uncommon for a runner to become loyal to a brand and style shoe and purchase model after model, year after year. When something works, why fix it?!
Believe it or not, there are apps to help runners keep track of mileage. When the person logs a run through running apps, it will ask which pair of shoes were worn.
For those who are less tech-savvy, an old school paper calendar will suffice. A calendar, a sharpie, and different colored highlighters are all that is needed to track mileage. Once each month, add up the mileage in each color.
A runner who replaces a pair of shoes every 350 miles might have three pairs of shoes in rotation. A “blue pair” may be almost ready to be retired at 300 miles, a “pink pair” maybe around 150 miles, and the runner may add a “yellow pair” into the mix.
This ensures that the runner does not have to complete a long run in a brand new pair of shoes, something many runners strongly avoid. Also, the runner can ease into breaking in a new pair of shoes.
In order to keep your feet happy, healthy and running, it is important to know when to replace running shoes. These essential tips can keep the runner’s feet moving forward.