After months of searching for the most comfortable running shoe, you finally found the perfect pair.
After conquering several miles and breaking various personal records, the shoes start to wear out, losing their comfort, shape, and allure. The outsoles begin to weaken, the upper wears out, and the cushioning gets compressed.
Considering the time and money you spent to get this pair and the memories you created, sometimes it can be challenging to let go.
However, every athlete understands that running in old and worn-out shoes will do you more harm than good. The decreased cushioning, shock absorption and stability, will put too much stress on your legs and joints, causing more pain and discomfort.
For this reason, runners need to know when to give up that favorite shoe for the sake of their comfort, running performance, and health.
How Long are Running Shoes Supposed to Last?
As a rule of thumb, running kicks should be replaced every 300 to 500 miles. If you average around 20 miles a week, you should replace your running shoes every four to six months.
However, it’s crucial to understand that different manufacturers designate running mileage for their shoes based on quality and use. For instance, Brooks recommends that clients replace their shoes every 250 to 300 miles.
Once a running shoe reaches its recommended miles, its midsole cushioning loses resilience, and its shock absorption capabilities plummet. The outsoles become thinner, thereby compromising your stability. This puts too much pressure on your muscles and joints and can lead to severe injuries.
However, a few factors may make your running shoes wear out faster and fail to follow the manufacturer’s mileage guidelines.
Factors that May Affect the Durability of Your Shoe
Although running shoe companies have different shoe models for different terrains, it’s inevitable for runners to cross over to different terrains.
One thing that will determine whether your pair lasts longer is if you use it for its intended purpose. If you wear running shoes meant for smooth and straight roads and take a diversion to rocky off-road terrain, they’ll wear out faster.
So, the best way to increase your shoes’ durability is to ensure that majority of your runs are constrained to the intended terrain.
Your weight, height, and foot size play an integral role in determining how long your shoe will last. Most shoe manufacturing companies consider the “average” runner’s data when designing and developing shoes.
In short, running shoes are built to accommodate the average runner. So, if you are heavier, taller, or have a bigger than average foot, your shoes will wear out faster.
Conversely, if you’re lighter than average, your pair of shoes might last longer to even surpass or be on the upper echelon of the 300 to 500-mile spectrum.
If you are heavier or taller, you should first determine whether there is a specially designed and reinforced shoe for you.
Although there’s no running style that’s better than the other, the kind of strike you make can determine how long your running shoes will last.
When you look at the bottom inner side of your used pair of shoes, the part with the most wear and tear determines your foot strike. It can be at the front, middle or heel.
Hill runners and splinters usually tear their shoes under the big toe or at the forefoot. You’ll also find individuals who run various races experiencing midfoot wear. Long-distance road runners are more likely to have their shoes wear out at the heel region.
Forefoot and midfoot strikers can add extra padded innersoles to correct the damaged areas. However, heel strikers may have to replace their running shoes since a compromised heel can decrease foot support, causing ankle and foot injury.
Common Signs that You Need New Running Shoes
Pains, aches, and injuries
If you’ve been experiencing unexplained muscle fatigue, soreness of the feet, shins, and upper back, or aches in joints, especially your ankles and knees, these are signs that you need a new pair of running shoes.
If the pain is on both legs, this is a clear indication that the shoes aren’t in good condition.
Any pair of shoes that leaves your body with aches and pains should be discarded and replaced with immediate effect.
So, the first hint that you need new running shoes is when you start experiencing soreness in places like knees, ankles, and the lower back.
You’ve done over 500+ miles in the Same Shoes
Running shoes are designed to provide a specific mileage based on the manufacturer’s recommendations.
Typically, minimalist shoes come with less cushioning and are usually last up to 300 miles. Maximum cushioned shoes last up to the 500-mile mark.
When your shoe reaches its recommended mileage, it starts to deteriorate and wear out. So, whether you can see the damage or not if your pair of running shoes has done over 500+ miles, it’s time to replace it.
Remember, you need to consider the terrain when deciding how long you can stay with a shoe. You should replace running shoes used on rough roads sooner than those used for treadmill running.
If you can’t remember the day you bought your pair of shoes, write the date of purchase on the inside part. When you have a rough estimate of how many miles you do per day, you can use the data to calculate how many miles you’ve covered.
Worn out treads
Treads and flax grooves are integral parts of your shoe’s anatomy. When they wear out, they will affect the shoe’s capacity to roll in sync with your foot’s natural stride.
Therefore, if the treads, especially on the soles, are not in great shape, this is a tell-tale sign that you need a new pair.
Usually, the insoles last longer than the cushioning. So, when they start to wear out, it’s a sign that most of the other integral parts are already worn out.
It’s also essential that you take note of the wear pattern. If you detect uneven wear, this is a sign that you don’t have the correct type of shoes. Since uneven wear has a lot to do with your running gait, seek professional gait analysis before getting another pair.
Feeling every pebble and rock as you run
Once you start feeling the impact from every rock, stick, root, or pebble you step on when trail running, this is a sign that your shoe’s cushioning and shock absorption capabilities are compromised.
Running shoes boast various technologies that help absorb the impact of any items you step on or hit when trail running.
Over time, these features become degraded and less valuable, which can lead to your legs taking the full impact. If your legs are often sore and wrecked due to the stones, sticks, and roots on the road, you need to toss those shoes in favor of a new pair that will offer adequate cushioning, shock absorption, and support.
Tough and compact midsole
Typically, midsoles are designed to be soft and spongy. When you press your thumb against the midsole, and it feels tough, this means that the cushioning has compressed and isn’t offering adequate support.
You can also do the twist test to confirm whether they offer adequate support. Holding each end, try to twist the shoe and feel if there’s some resistance. If it bends easily, the shoe doesn’t offer adequate support. If it feels firm, you still have some miles of action remaining. However, this test is only practical for sturdy pairs that heavily rely on support.
Visible signs of wear and tear
Sometimes you just need to use your eyes to know it’s time to ditch those running shoes. If you see any signs of wear and tear, you don’t have a choice but to buy another pair.
If your shoe’s interior is ok, but the upper part is torn, you might need more accommodative shoes. Additionally, fraying in the heel is another sign that you’re wearing the wrong shoes.
Another visible sign is when the shoe can’t stand straight when placed on a flat surface. Broken or torn outsoles also mean that your pair of shoes has outlived its service.
If your shoe has any of these signs, the noble thing to do is get a new, more comfortable running shoe for yourself.
How to make your running shoes last longer
- Wear running shoes only when you’re running
- Clean your shoes often
- Rotate between different pairs of shoes
- Undo and redo your laces when removing and wearing your running shoes
- Complement your running shoes with the right socks
Taking good care of your running shoes can give them some extra months. However, you’ll have to replace them eventually. Ensure you inspect your shoes for any signs of wear and tear, and try to analyze how you feel after every run. If you consider the insights provided in this article, you can determine whether your running shoes need replacement or not.
Marko Rakic is a trail runner and fitness enthusiast from Sydney, Australia. He is the lead writer for The Ultimate Primate and believes the best way to live a happy life is to take a holistic approach to fitness and health.