Today’s guest blog post is from David Dack, an established fitness blogger and running expert.
Your running shoes might be built from some solid materials, but they won’t last you forever. Even the most expensive shoes can only take so much, but how do you know when it’s time to get a new pair?
To help you make the right decision, in today’s post, we’re going to look into why (and when) you should replace your running shoes, and what to look for to determine when it’s time to pull the plug. I’m also sharing a few tips on how to make the most out of your shoes.
Let’s get started.
The Mistake of Running in Worn-out Shoes
Running in your shoes until they’re nothing more than foam slivers and loose thread can result in discomfort and even injury. When you pound the pavement in worn our shoes, you increase stress on your muscles and joints, which can result in overuse injuries as well as chronic aches and pains.
Let’s dissect the main reason.
While the upper fabric and outsole show the clearest signs of wear and tear on running shoes, the damage that most impacts your biomechanics and running efficiency occurs inside the midsole.
The midsole consists of the thick layer of foam that absorbs physical impact and supports your feet through running gait. It’s usually made from Ethylene Vinyl Acetate (EVA), Polyurethane (PU), or a combination of both materials
Over miles of training, the midsole eventually breaks down. When this happens, your shoes no longer offer the compression and stress-reducing properties that they did when it was brand-new. In other words, your feet will no longer have enough protection from the running’s high impact, making you prone to pain and injury. And you don’t want that, right?
The Exact Range
According to most experts, you should replace your running shoes every 400 to 500 miles before they are compromised. For example, if you average 40 miles a week (you running addict), you should be out and about looking for your next pair every three to four months.
However, this rule isn’t written in stone. Many factors have a say. Let’s look at a few.
Your running routes, whether trails, roads, tracks, etc., have the biggest impact on how long your pair of running shoes last. In general, the harder the running terrain, the more punishing it is for your kicks.
For example, if you log in serious miles on the trail or rough roads, you’ll need to swap out your shoes sooner than if you primarily run on softer surfaces, such as the treadmill.
Therefore, if you do most of your running on concrete or asphalt surfaces, chances are your shoes won’t last you that long.
Your running style
The way your foot pounds the pavement impacts overall shoe wear. For example, a heel striker may compress the structure of their shoes faster than someone who is typically a mid-foot striker.
Your body weight
The heavier you are, the more load you’ll place on your shoot every time your feet hit the ground. That’s why the heavier the runner you are, the faster the rate of shoe wear. For this reason, lighter runners should start considering getting a new pair at the upper end of the recommendation while heavier runners may need new kicks closer to 400 miles.
Another factor that can play into running shoe lifespan is the model or the type. In general, the lighter the shoe, the less wear you’ll get out of it. For example, everyday shoes tend to be the most durable, usually lasting 400 to 600 miles, but lightweight shoes—think sprint shoes—tend to have less material, therefore, typically last 200 to 300 miles.
When it’s Time For Shoe Replacement
So how do you know it’s time to swap out your shoes for a new pair. Here are the signs to look out for.
As previously stated, the best way to know when it’s time to retire your shoes is to pay attention to your mileage. If you know you’ve put more than 500 miles in a pair, it’s likely time to phase them out.
If you have trouble keeping tabs on how many miles you run in certain pairs, write the date of the purchase—or first use—on the inside of your shoe. Then do some math. For instance, if run 20 miles per week, consider getting a new pair every six months.
You can also monitor the mileage of your shoes using a simple running diary, a GPS watch, or a running app such as Strava that allows you to monitor mileage in different pairs of shoes.
With all that being said, there are also a few others telling sings that you give you an idea of when to start looking for the next pair. Here are a few.
Check the Tread
The clearest sign of when to get a new pair is the sole. The outsole refers to the rubber part of the shoes that comes in contact with the ground. Just like the tires on your car, the outer sole of your running shoes has tread to help grip the pavement and cushion your landing. Over time, this rubber starts to wear away, losing all their tread and protection properties.
Pay attention to any bald spots on the outer sole where the rubber has broken down. This is especially the case if the outsole is entirely worn out, and the white midsole is exposed. In some cases, your shoes might not even stand up straight when placed on a flat surface.
Overall Feel of the Shoe
Wear and tear aside, and as previously stated, the wear that affects most your biomechanics—therefore injury risk—occurs within the midsole.
As you log more miles, the cushioning and shock absorption materials begin to compress, and the shoe no longer bounces back as much as they once did. But how do you check for it? If you’re feeling the shock of impact of every foot strike in your feet, knees, and hips, there’s a strong chance that the cushioning structure in your shoes has deteriorated.
When the midsole breaks down, the shoe will feel “dead” underneath. You also no longer feel the bounce in shoes while running. When it’s the case, your kicks won’t offer as much cushioning or rebound as they did when new.
You’re Feeling Pain
Proper running shoes should leave your body feeling as good as when you started, with no chronic pain points. That’s why paying attention to your body is the ideal way to judge when to get a new pair of running shoes.
Sure, hard training can make you feel sore the next day, but if little aches persist even after a recovery run, it might time to assess your shoes and look at options. And it doesn’t have to be a debilitating injury. If you start to experience annoying aches in places you had none before, especially in your knees, shins, arches, or soles, then your shoes might be to blame.
Tips to increasing your Running shoe’s life span
Want to make your running shoes last longer? Do the following:
- Rotate your shoes. Having more than one pair not only makes your shoes last longer, but research also shows that runners who rotate multiple pairs of running shoes reduce their injury risk by 39 percent.
- Wash them right. While not keeping your shoes clean all the time may not affect their lifespan, the way you wash and dry them does. Never toss your shoes in the washing machine, nor drying machine. Instead, wash them manually using soap and brush, then let them air dry.
- Running exclusively. If you’re serious about extending the lifespan of your trainers, use them only for running. They’ll last longer than if you’re also doing other activities in them.
- Choose the right type. Trail running shoes were made for the trail, and road running shoes were meant for the pavement. As a rule, make sure that your shoe type matches the terrains you’re running on, or else that shoe may not be suitable for a long life of use.
There you have it. The above tips and guidelines are all you need to know about how often should you change your running shoes as well as when to do so. All you need to do now is put them into practice and keep on running. The rest is just details.
Please feel free to leave your comments and questions in the section below.
In the meantime, thank you for dropping by.
About the author:
David Dack is an established fitness blogger and running expert. When he’s not training for his next marathon, he’s doing research and trying to help as many people as possible to share his fitness philosophy. Check his blog Runners Blueprint for more info.