Stuck in a rut and wondering – should I change my running shoes?
It really depends on a variety of factors: whether your current pair is worn out, what you need them for, or if you simply just want a pair of new shoes!
However, if you feel that your current pair could be negatively impacting your performance, it’s definitely worth looking into buying something new.
Running shoes are, by design, intended to help users run faster and longer. Unfortunately, the stress of repeated use over time will cause wear and tear on even the most durable pair of shoes. This can even occur without obvious outward signs of damage. As the shoes’ structures weaken, runners may experience discomfort, pain, or even injury – not to mention a diminishing performance.
Read on to find out how often you should really change your running shoes.
- How Long Should Running Shoes Last?
- How and Where You Run Effects Your Shoes’ Lifespan
- When Should I Replace My Running Shoes?
- Signs That You Should Change Your Running Shoes
- How To Make Your Running Shoes Last Longer
- The Benefits of Replacing Old Running Shoes
- Is It Time to Change Your Running Shoes?
How Long Should Running Shoes Last?
It’s common knowledge that running shoes should be replaced periodically — but how long can you expect a pair to last before it needs to be replaced?
Most retailers and manufacturers suggest that typical shoes can last between 300 and 400 miles, with some lightweight models needing to be replaced more frequently. This means that running 5 miles a day will require several new pairs throughout the year, while a more casual runner won’t have to replace their equipment as frequently.
Studies have shown that the support and structural integrity in running shoes start to degrade after approximately 300 miles. However, some research suggests that even experienced recreational runners may have difficulty picking up on these subtle changes. This means that your shoes may already be underperforming, and you just haven’t noticed (yet).
How and Where You Run Effects Your Shoes’ Lifespan
How often you should change your running shoes really depends on your use, as well as the following factors:
When running, you strike the ground with a force equal to about four times your body weight. It should be of no surprise then that if you are a heavier runner, you may go through your shoes at a faster rate.
How you run will also influence how often you should change your running shoes. Those who are overpronated or underpronated (those who tend to land with too much weight on either the inside of the landing foot or the outer edge, respectively) could cause excessive wear to the outer sole.
Running shoes are designed with specific usages in mind, and running on terrain that the shoes weren’t designed for will definitely cause premature deterioration. Another factor to consider is the environment itself: a treadmill on a shady path will be easier on your shoes than on hot asphalt or rocky paths.
When Should I Replace My Running Shoes?
There are really two main ways to determine when to replace your running shoes: time and experience.
Going by the 300 – 400 miles rule, you can figure out how often you should be changing your shoes by tracking how much you run. If you find that difficult to remember, one trick is to write the date of purchase in a discrete location on the shoe in a permanent marker.
The other, more intuitive, option is to keep track of your running performance. Any (negative) changes indicate it may be time to change your running shoes.
We’ve already documented the symptoms of wearing the wrong running shoes, and it’s a long list!
Because older running shoes begin to deteriorate over time, continuing to use a pair that’s past its prime can have a negative impact on your overall performance and speed.
See more: will I run faster in new shoes? [Yes, probably!]
Running shoes are designed to help you run better: there’s cushioning and support that is specific for the delicate mechanisms of the foot. The balance of the shoes, the flexibility, the bounce — these are all aspects that are carefully designed with running in mind.
When these elements start to degrade, that means the shoes are no longer offering maximum benefit to the user. Whether it’s the heel cushioning not absorbing as much of the force, or the outer soles being worn unevenly — these can all subtly influence your running form, making you slower. This is especially true for runners who begin to experience new discomfort or pain while running.
Running with old running shoes actually increases one’s likelihood of being injured. This is most evident in new aches and pains. This could include blisters, lower back pain, joint aches, ankle swelling, plantar fasciitis or even muscle pains.
If you notice that you feel more sore than usual after running, there’s a good chance that you should change your running shoes.
As we get older, our bodies change – this includes our feet. It may be that the shoes that worked for you previously are no longer capable of best supporting your running needs. If you suspect this is the case, you can head to a local shop with knowledgeable staff; they should be able to fit you for a new pair.
Another reason why you might want to change your running shoes is if your running style has changed. Those who go from running primarily inside to running on rough terrain may find they need additional support. You may also find that you want a more versatile running shoe that you can use for other purposes, such as weight training.
How often you need to change your running shoes is dependent on the user, meaning that the “every 300 miles” rule may not apply. However, there are some signs you can look out for that will tell you when you need to buy a new pair:
The running shoes themselves may show signs of wear and tear that indicate it’s time to replace them.
You should replace your old pair if you notice any of the following:
- The treads have worn down
- There are signs of stress or tearing on the toe box
- The shoes bend easily
- The shoes no longer stand up on their own without falling over
- The heel cushion feels less supportive
- There’s a crease in the midsole
The most important indication that you should change your running shoes is your physical health. Running puts a lot of strain on your joints and muscles. If the shoe’s structure or cushioning is no longer adequate to absorb the force of running, that puts a significant amount of stress on your body.
As mentioned above, any new pains or discomforts (or, worse yet, injuries) are strong indications that you should consider replacing your running shoes. This could include:
- Shin splints
- Lower back pain
- Plantar fasciitis
- Achilles tendinitis (pain along the back of your heel)
- Stress fractures
- Muscles aches and pains
You will inevitably have to change your running shoes at some point or another. Having said that, there are some ways to maximize how long you can use a pair before having to invest in another.
The first and most obvious way is to rotate your running shoes. This will give your shoes time to recover between runs.
Buying running shoes that properly fit may seem like a no-brainer, but a surprising number of runners do inadvertently buy shoes that don’t. When shoes don’t fit well, this adds stress and can speed up the rate of wear and tear.
One thing to look out for is how tight the toebox feels. You should be able to comfortably wiggle your toes. The width of the shoe, the arch support and the heel cushion need to fit your specific foot needs.
Don’t be shy when trying on new shoes. If you’re going into a store, take them for a test jog: shoes should be comfortable from toe-off to touchdown.
If you want to get the most out of your running shoes, use them as intended. This includes the aforementioned “using as the manufacturer intended” note. You should also keep your daily use in mind.
If you intend to wear your running shoes for other purposes, such as running errands, it’s going to add miles to the overall use, shortening the pair’s lifespan. This is purely a personal choice, but you may want to consider limiting your running shoes to running and having a separate pair of “street” shoes for every day.
Replacing an old shoe for the latest model can have additional benefits! Not only will you have a peak level of support, making you less likely to get injured, but new shoes have improved technology, which could have a beneficial effect on your overall performance.
The sporting industry is always finding ways to improve on existing technology. Running shoe manufacturers need to stay competitive, which leads to innovation. As a consumer, you have the option of replacing your current running shoes with an upgraded model that’s been tweaked or improved upon in subtle ways.
Better shoes mean better performance.
It’s easy to make mistakes when buying new running shoes. When you change your shoes, you have the opportunity to rectify that. It may be that you’ve been buying shoes that are intended for a different purpose than how you use them, or perhaps you’ve been buying shoes that don’t fit as comfortably as they should.
Changing your running shoes is an opportunity to re-evaluate yourself as a runner and what your specific needs are.
Even if you haven’t observed obvious signs of excessive wear and tear to your running shoes, the problems often lie underneath. When the structural integrity of the shoe begins to deteriorate, the runner is no longer getting the stability and support needed for running.
Often, using damaged running shoes can put additional stress on your muscles and joints, which over time can lead to overuse injuries.
These often manifest as gradual aches and pains that get worse over time, like runner’s knee and plantar fasciitis. While regularly changing your running shoes may feel like an avoidable expense, keep this in mind: new running shoes are cheaper than a doctor’s visit.
Is It Time to Change Your Running Shoes?
Ready for a new pair of training shoes? Only you know if you’re ready to level up to a pair of well-fitting kicks, but we can promise you this – not only will the right shoe protect your feet from painful foot conditions, but the right shoes will improve your running performance!