No running shoe lasts forever, and hanging up your beloved pair when it’s time isn’t easy. That cool-looking and expensive pair that once made your runs feel magical has started to look worn and cause discomfort.
The difficult question that most runners face is, “How often to replace running shoes?” If running is a regular part of your routine, it is essential to replace your running shoes once they no longer provide the support you need.
Read on to find out how often your running shoes should be replaced.
- The Life Expectancy of a Training Shoe
- What Happens When You Don’t Replace Your Running Shoes?
- Other Replacement Warning Signs
- How to Extend the Life of Your Running Shoes
- Time to Replace Your Running Shoes?
The Life Expectancy of a Training Shoe
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer to how long you should keep your running shoes, and it should be calculated in miles instead of months or years. Typically, your running shoes should be replaced after 300 miles – minimum use — and 500 maximum. For many shoes, around 400 miles is typical; however, this number depends on the individual and factors including:
- How often you’re using them. The more regularly they are used, the quicker they’ll need replacing.
- Your running style and how your feet land as you run.
- The type of terrain you run on. Running on a treadmill versus running outdoors will impact longevity.
- The training intensity. Higher intensity typically involves more impact and force on your trainers, making them wear down faster.
- The design of the running shoe. The chunkier midsole, lightweight foams, carbon-fiber plates, etc., will play a role in their longevity.
- The temperature of the location you’ll run will also influence the amount of wear.
It’s a bit like the shocks on a vehicle; each time your foot hits the ground, you’re compressing the midsole, and eventually, it won’t bounce back.
Your average weekly run mileage will play a big part in the life span of a pair of running shoes. For example, a 60-mile-per-week marathoner-in-training will likely need to change their running shoes sooner than most. To help keep track of your mileage accumulation, consider tracking them using an app or logging your distance on a calendar.
What Happens When You Don’t Replace Your Running Shoes?
If you’ve begun to experience new and unexplained aches and pains following a run, this could be a sign that it’s time for a new pair of shoes. Running on a worn pair of running shoes will eventually make you feel uncomfortable and could cause problems with your feet and legs.
In addition, when running shoes lose cushion, you may experience shin splints, muscle fatigue, joint pain, or other overuse injuries.
You may also develop painful ankles, knees, and hips, or your feet may become more sore or stiff after running in shoes with worn cushioning. The same is true for new friction burns or blisters.
Other Replacement Warning Signs
Although the longevity of running shoes depends on the individual, there are some general signals that the time has come. Here are some signs to look out for:
The Shoes’ Condition
An easy-to-spot tell-tale sign that your running shoes need replacing is if the sole treads are worn out. This is because the soles will have more extended longevity than the cushioning and shock absorbency. So, it’s time for a new pair when the soles are worn down significantly, especially on the outsole. However, this doesn’t need to be the end of its use; for example, you can use them for gardening.
In addition to disappearing tread, inspect the overall condition for holes forming in the mesh upper and deflated or lopsided foam.
Reduced Shock Absorption
When you’re beginning to feel the impact every time your feet hit the ground, in your feet, knees, and hips, this is a sign of weakened shock absorption. Your running shoes’ shock absorption minimizes the strain on your tendons, ligaments, bones, and muscle. When this stops happening, it’s time for a replacement.
If your running shoes start to wear unevenly, this is an immediate sign that the end is nigh. In addition, the wear pattern could point to a potential “gait” problem.
What Is Gait?
Your gait or pronation is your walk or run pattern. Gait analysis is essential as it helps in identifying your running style. This knowledge is then used to determine the best shoes for you so that your body doesn’t have to compensate, which could lead to injury.
It comprises balance and coordination of muscles used to push your body forward in a rhythm referred to as stride. When selecting the right running shoe, a gait analysis should be carried out to match your degree of pronation. The three broad types of natural pronation are:
- Neutral. Neutral pronation is when the foot lands on the outer edge and rolls inward, finishing approximately perpendicular to the ground.
- Overpronation. This pronation type is when the foot lands on the ankle and rolls inwardly or in an uncontrolled way. Excessive wear on the front part of your running shoes may suggest overpronation.
- Underpronation or supination. This type is the opposite of overpronation and isn’t very common. It occurs when the foot hits the round on its edge but doesn’t wholly roll inwards when absorbing the landing impact. Excessive wear on the outer edges of your shoe may suggest under pronation.
The aim is to offset overpronation or under pronation to improve running efficiency and reduce the risk of injury. If the tread wear pattern on your running shoes suggests a gait issue, consider seeking advice from a running shoe expert to address the problem.
How to Extend the Life of Your Running Shoes
Running shoes in good condition are necessary to perform well and prevent injury. So, it’s understandable to want to get your money’s worth, and it may be difficult to retire a pair you’re particularly fond of. Fortunately, a few simple ways can help make your favorite running shoes last slightly longer.
Use Your Running Shoes to Run Only
Due to the comfort of your running shoes, it may be tempting to wear them for other things. However, the extra daily wear can dramatically reduce the life of your shoes. So be sure to remove them after your workout and switch to another pair of shoes when you’re ready to take the dog for a walk or go to the grocery store.
Remove Them Right After Your Run
Always undo the laces before removing your running shoes after you run. Avoid just kicking them off with your toes. You can prematurely break down the internal construction of the heel and cause overstretching by not lacing and unlacing.
Store Them Correctly
Another simple way to extend the life of your shoes is by storing them correctly. After a tough run, storing your shoes in a closed gym bag with other gear drenched in sweat is not the best way to keep them in good condition. Inside, the bag can get humid and moist and become the perfect environment to take a toll on your shoes’ polyurethane and foam midsole.
Instead, consider storing them in a dry area with a neutral temperature. Avoid places with fluctuating temperatures like your garage or front porch. The best way to store them is on a shoe rack kept in your closet or the laundry room.
Clean Them Correctly
After each run, give your running shoes a quick wipe-down to remove any mud, dirt, or water. Also, remove any pebbles or rocks that may have gotten caught in the treads.
Avoid using the washing machine when it’s time to wash them properly. The washing machine and dryer are likely to cause severe damage to your running shoes. In addition, when your shoes are super saturated and exposed to intense heat when put inside a dryer, they can deteriorate quickly.
Most training shoes use polyurethanes, various foams, and other mesh materials. These materials can quickly break down and detach from each other when submerged in water for long periods, then dried using extreme heat.
You can clean your running shoes efficiently with soapy water and a sponge. Let them air dry over a heat vent or on a shoe dryer.
Rotate Your Running Shoes
There are no hard and fast rules to how many running shoes you can own at one time. However, it’s a good idea to have a least two pairs simultaneously, instead of using the same pair every day. This is so you can ensure your shoes can completely air dry between runs. You can also vary your shoe depending on the type of running you want to do per session. For example, separate pairs for roads, trails, and particular weather conditions.
Time to Replace Your Running Shoes?
The importance of replacing your running shoes when it’s time should never be overlooked. Wearing shoes in good condition prevents injury and stress on your legs and joints and can maximize your performance. Depending on your running style, usage, and many other factors, you may need to replace your shoes at the upper end of the recommended 300-500 miles or the lower end.
There’ll be signs that your running shoes have reached or are coming to the end of their life. For example, if the tread grip is lost and the soles are significantly worn. Also, if they feel less supportive and you’re beginning to experience aches and pains, or when the material starts to lose shape and looks a little worse for wear, you’ll know the time has come to retire them.
There are also many ways that the longevity of your running shoes can be extended. These include purchasing the right running shoes for your pronation, keeping them out of the washing machine and dryer, and storing them at a neutral temperature. Another way is to let your running shoes share the load by purchasing more than one pair.