A few weeks ago, I started running with a running group, and I decided to invite some of my friends to join me. One of my friends showed up wearing a 5-year old pair of New Balance shoes that were basically conformed to her feet. She had perfect toe impressions along the inner soles and the tread along the bottoms of the shoes were gone. She swore that they were her most comfortable pair of shoes and she wasn't ready to give them up.
How do you decide when you need a new pair of running shoes? Do you log miles, switch once a year, or wait until you have obvious holes or wear in the shoes? Below is four different things to consider when determining when it is time to part ways with your current pair of running shoes.
Using mileage to determine when it’s time to ditch your running shoes is likely the most common method among runners. The consensus of mileage appears to be somewhere between 300 miles & 500 miles (1,2,3,4). After so many miles, the shoes start to lose support and shock absorption, which can increase one’s risk of injury. Mileage should not be the only factor to consider, though, as the type of shoe being worn, the weight of the runner, and the foot strike pattern can also affect the wear and expiration of a shoe (2).
#2) Type of Shoe & Running Terrain
The longevity of shoes is partially influenced by the materials it is composed of and what type of running is done using them. For example, minimalist and racing shoes tend to have less material and will, therefore, break down quicker than a trail running shoe that is built for rugged terrain, so you may only get 200-400 miles out of them (2,3).
As with the type of shoe, running terrain will also affect the wear of shoes. Taking a typical neutral running shoe, one will wear the shoe out faster if he/she is running every day on roads versus running off-road with the same pair of shoes (1).
#3) Shoewear pattern
If you don’t feel like keeping track of your mileage, you may choose to examine your shoes for wear. Shoe wear pattern can also give you an insight into your running gait pattern. For example, if you are an over-pronator, you may see outer sole wear along the outside back heel and then along the inside forefoot regions. If you are a supinator, the wear typically stays along the outside of the foot, both at the heel and forefoot regions. In addition to the outer sole, you can check the wear on the inner sole or the inside heel region. Lastly, if your toes are sticky out through the forefoot mesh, it’s probably time to say “good-bye” to the shoes.
#4) Foot pain/problems
If you start feeling pains in your feet, it could be due to your shoes being worn out. As I mentioned above, after a certain amount of miles, the support and cushion is lost, which can lead to body injuries. The injuries may not only impact your feet, but also your knees, back, and hips (4).
As you can see, mileage is not the only determining factor when it comes to deciding when it’s time to part ways with your new favorite, or lucky, pair of running shoes and invest in a new pair. As stubborn as runners can be (trust me, I know… I am one), it is also important to weigh out the risks and benefits of keeping your shoes. Injury prevention is key!
Disclaimer: This blog is meant for educational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. Please consult your own healthcare professional with questions and concerns related to your own health.
1. Changing Your Running Shoes – Knowing When Is The Right Time. Retrieved from http://www.asics.com/gb/en-gb/running-advice/changing-your-running-shoes-knowing-when-is-the-right-time
2. Flynn, S.W. (2016, November). When Should You Replace Your Running or Walking Shoes? Retrieved from http://blog.mapmyrun.com/when-should-you-replace-your-running-or-walking-shoes/
3. Fraioli, M. (2014, September). Ask Mario: How Often Should I Replace My Running Shoes? Retrieved from http://running.competitor.com/2014/09/shoes-and-gear/ask-the-coach-how-often-should-i-replace-my-running-shoes_89115#XKUf0q7JFryCBjHl.99
4. Lobby, M. Top 5 Signs It's Time to Ditch Your Running Shoes. Retrieved from http://www.active.com/running/articles/top-5-signs-it-s-time-to-ditch-your-running-shoes