Even the best running shoes eventually need to be replaced, with the general rule being to replace old shoes between every 400 and 500 miles.
The good news is, there’s an upside to replacing your worn-out pair with new equipment: you can run faster in new shoes!
Running with old, damaged shoes will not only have a negative impact on your overall speed and performance, but it will also increase your chance of injury – therefore, purchasing a new pair is the safest choice. Not only that, but new running shoes can actually improve form and shave seconds off of your personal best.
Want to know more about why purchasing the right shoe could make a big difference to your running game, whether you’re a novice, elite athlete or marathon runner?
Let’s take a look…
- How Do New Shoes Help You Run Faster?
- Running Shoes Are Designed To Optimize Performance
- How Often Should You Replace Your Running Shoes?
- Signs That You Need New Running Shoes
- How To Pick New Running Shoes
- Mistakes To Avoid When Buying New Shoes
- What Are The Best New Running Shoes?
- The Bottom Line: New Shoes Are Better Than Old Shoes
How Do New Shoes Help You Run Faster?
New running shoes that use the latest innovations in manufacturing and design can improve performance, speed, and energy. This is, after all, a multi-billion dollar industry!
Right out of the box, a new pair is at its peak for support and functionality. However, this wears down over time, and that deterioration can gradually reduce your speed. What’s worse, the change is so gradual that you might not notice until aches and pains start creeping in.
There are four main aspects of running shoes that affect speed and performance: the weight, the cushioning, the material, and the overall design. Innovations in the industry mean that manufacturers are constantly finding ways to improve in these four areas.
This one’s a bit self-explanatory, in that heavier running shoes require more effort to move, and that additional exertion will slow you down. A lightweight shoe is better for running and running shoe manufacturers factor this in when designing running shoes.
Not all shoes are created equal, however, and some perform better than others regardless of weight. This is thanks to other design choices like structure and support.
A running shoe’s cushioning not only supports the foot while running, minimizing strain and risk of injury, but it also has a significant role in the shoe’s overall performance. Specifically, the cushioning absorbs the impact of your foot striking the hard ground, which takes the pressure off of your joints. Cushioning is great if you’ve had previous ankle or lower leg injuries, or if you have foot posture problems like overpronation.
If you’re wondering – “Will I run faster in new shoes?” – one of the first places to look is the cushioning in your current shoes. Is it flattened and lacking the spring that it had when you first purchased them?
In that case – yes. New shoes will provide some extra cushioning, which is likely to improve your times as well as your ‘perceived effort’.
Even the material your shoes are made out of can influence your running speed. Typically, running shoes are made with a lightweight knit or mesh that is both breathable and flexible.
Running Shoes Are Designed To Optimize Performance
The overall design of the running shoe will affect the runner’s performance. Good shoe design factors in the foot’s anatomy, and should be optimized for natural movement. Of course, everyone’s feet and gaits are different, which means different needs for optimal speed.
How Often Should You Replace Your Running Shoes?
As mentioned, the general rule-of-thumb for replacing running shoes is every 300 to 400 miles. This can vary drastically from person to person and even shoe to shoe.
If you run five miles a day, you can expect your shoes to last a couple of months before it’s time to replace them, whereas someone less than 20 miles a week could go six months before needing a new pair.
How, and where you run plays a major role in how long your running shoes will last before needing to be replaced.
Factors like your individual foot strike, gait and weight will impact the rate of deterioration, as will the environments you run in. Shoes are designed for different terrains, and using them for other purposes can increase the rate of wear and tear.
Signs That You Need New Running Shoes
If you’re questioning whether or not to buy a new pair of running shoes, what are the signs to look out for?
Any of the following signs mean it’s time to replace your pair:
- The rubber outsole is worn down to the foam underneath
- There are tears or holes in the shoes, such as the toe-box
- The shoes’ midsoles are soft and bend easily
- There is uneven wear on the soles and/or the outsole
The most important sign that you need to replace your running shoes is that you’re in pain. If you find yourself having increased muscle soreness or new foot, ankle or joint pain while running, it’s time to start looking for a new pair.
Running with shoes that have been compromised by wear and tear can lead to injuries. When running, we land with nearly four times our body weight, so shock absorption is really important.
Using old shoes that have deteriorated from use can cause the aforementioned pain, as well as many runner injuries like ankle sprains, runner’s knee, plantar fasciitis, and even lower back pain. It can also exacerbate running form issues, especially when the wear has altered the shoes’ original balance (like when the outsole is worn down unevenly).
How To Pick New Running Shoes
If you want to run faster with new running shoes, you must buy a pair that fits your specific running needs.
New running shoes should fit comfortably. You don’t want them to be too tight, and the shoe should be snug yet flexible enough that you can move naturally through your stride – from touchdown to toe-off.
The easiest way to pick the perfect pair of new running shoes is to get help from an expert. If you go to a sporting equipment store with knowledgeable staff or even a boutique that specializes in running equipment, you can get an accurate assessment of your needs and the best fit.
Another option is to pick running shoes based on personal preference. You know your feet better than anyone – be honest about your past performance, and what you think your needs are. If you are overpronated or under pronated, for example, that should factor into your choice.
Alternatively, you could research the latest version of your current training shoe, assuming you didn’t originally have problems like blistering.
Mistakes To Avoid When Buying New Shoes
There are several mistakes you should avoid when purchasing a new pair of running shoes, including:
- Buying purely for looks and/or brand name.
- Trying on the shoes in the morning — our feet swell throughout the day.
- Buying shoes a size too small. Your toes should have room to wiggle.
- Paying too much: there may be discounts available, or a better price at another store (or online).
What Are The Best New Running Shoes?
If you want to improve the time of your next race, upgrading your running shoes is a great start. Especially if your current pair is battered and worn.
The quest for the best running shoes is a never-ending game. There are constantly new models released leveraging fine-tuned technology that can offer elite athletes a priceless advantage.
A better question is – what shoes are we liking at the moment?
At the time of writing:
For a general neutral shoe, the Brooks Ghost 14 is a great option. The Brooks Ghost line is a favorite of many, and the latest iteration boasts improvement of the midsole design and material, making for a more comfortable run.
Runners who prefer a more minimalist running shoe will love the Merrell Vapor Glove 5. This light, slip-on shoe is versatile for those who prefer the “barefoot” experience.
Finally, those who need a lot of cushion and bounce should try the Skechers Go Run Ride 9. The comfortable shoe is light and soft but gives runners extra bounce.
The Bottom Line: New Shoes Are Better Than Old Shoes
As much as we may come to love our favorite pair of running shoes, it’s important to recognize when it’s time to upgrade. Chances are, you’re probably going to be able to run faster in new shoes, even if your current pair aren’t showing outward signs of wear and tear!
While various studies have found that running shoes do generally improve running speed and efficiency, some makes and models do so more effectively than others – and the ever-changing industry means that the latest offerings by shoe manufacturers improve upon older designs.
New running shoes will not only help you run faster because of the new technology but the pain and discomfort of your current shoes could be slowing you down.