How often should you change your running shoes?
How often should you change your running shoes?
With all the different types, designs, brands and styles of running shoes it can take hours of research and trying on multiple pairs before you finally decide on the right running shoes for you...
...Then once you’ve bought your pristine new shoes, you want to make them last for as long as possible - especially since quality running shoes can cost a pretty penny!
However, running in worn-out shoes can actually lead to a running injury so knowing when to swap out your old shoes for a new pair is very important.
After you’ve been running in your shoes for quite a while, they’ll start to show signs of wear and tear.
These will be things like poor shock absorption, worn tread, they'll feel flat and you might experience pain while running.
If you start to notice these signs of wear, it’s time to start looking for a new pair of running shoes.
How many miles should you get out of running shoes?
The general rule of thumb is that you should get between 800 to 1000 kilometres or 500 to 650 miles out of a pair of running shoes. So when you hit that 800km or 500 miles mark, you know you should start shopping.
However, the mileage you get out of a pair of running shoes also depends on your weight and how you run.
If you’re on the heavier runner or have poor biomechanics, then you should probably look at changing your running shoes after about 600km’s or 400 miles.
Most women runners are lighter than men so their shoes will also tend to last a bit longer and they should get closer to 1000km’s or 650 miles on them.
The type of terrain or surface you run on will also impact how long a pair of running shoes will last.
If you run mostly on roads or treadmills, your shoes should last longer than if you enjoy frequent trail runs.
Rugged terrain will cause more damage and wear on your shoes because of its uneven surface.
When to replace your running shoes
You may be asking yourself "When should I replace my running shoes?"
There are a five factors that should be taken into cosideration and will determine when you should replace your running shoes:
- High Mileage - How many miles have you run in your shoes?
- Poor Shock Absorbtion - Are your running shoes 'feeling flat'?
- Aches & Pains - Are certain joints and muscles starting to flare up?
- Worn Tread - Are the bottoms of your running shoes wearing out?
- Uneven Wear - Is a certain part of your shoe wearing out more than other parts?
That's a basic summary, so let's dig into them in a bit more detail...
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When you buy a new pair of shoes you should take note of the date or even write it on the inside of your shoe so that you can track your mileage in them.
A lot of running apps, like Strava for example, also allow you to track running shoe mileage. Then you’ll know when you start edging towards the 800km or 500 mile mark and can start looking for a new pair.
If you take good care of your running shoes, then you should be able to push the mileage closer to 1000km or 650 miles if they’re not worn out yet.
Poor shock absorption
The shock absorption of your running shoes gets worse the older they are and the more you run in them. This is because the cushioning and support gets worn down over time.
When it’s time to replace your shoes, you’ll find that you feel a lot of impact and compounding in your legs as your feet strike the ground. This is not good for your legs and could cause pain if you’re used to running with cushioning.
If you don't have a perfect foot strike, a worn-out midsole also makes the shoes less stable and ineffective in providing proper support for overpronators or supinators.
If you can bend the toe of your running shoe to the collar of its heel then it’s time for a new pair. Running shoes should not have that kind of flexibility so it shows that the midsole has been significantly worn down.
You experience aches and pains when running
If your muscles start to feel tight or fatigued and you experience more shin splints and joint pain, it’s probably time to upgrade to a new pair of running shoes. If the pain you feel is caused by your worn out shoes, you’ll feel it on both sides/legs as your running shoes will get worn down evely.
However, if you’re feeling pain in a new pair of shoes, it’s possible that you need a different type of shoe with more or less support, cushioning, drop etc. You can go to a specialty running store and ask an expert for advice if you’re not sure.
One of the most significant ways to tell if you need new running shoes is to look at the tread of your current pair. In other words, the way your shoes wear.
The soles of running shoes last longer than the cushioning so if your tread is gone, you’re definitely overdue for a new pair. The tread provides traction on the ground so if it’s worn down you’ll be more prone to injury, especially if it has worn down only in specific spots (due to the way you run).
Unbalanced tread is also very risky to run on as it could cause you to alter your running gait slightly, which may lead to injury.
If you notice that your shoes have worn unevenly and certain parts of the shoe are more worn out than others, then it’s possible that you may have a problem with your gait or some sort of biomechanical issue.
If you find excessive wear along the outer sides of your shoes, you’re probably underpronating and if you find more wear along the inner sides, you’re overpronating. (We've written an extensive post on pronation, overpronation and supination that will help you figure this out. You can read that post here)
Different types of running shoes can help provide the right kind of support needed for different levels of pronation so you may need to look into buying a different type of running shoe.
Getting expert advice from a running specialty store can go a long way to fixing this.
How to get more miles out of your running shoes
Although you want to change your running shoes regularly, there are a few things you can do to extend the life of your running shoes...
- Own more than one pair of running shoes
- Only wear your running shoes when you run
- Put them on and take them off correctly
- Wash your shoes (by hand, never in a washing machine)
- Dry your shoes (Never in a dryer)
Following those 5 steps will prolong the life of your running shoes and save you money in the long run. This is why:
Own more than one pair of running shoes
If you can, it’s a good idea to have at least two pairs of running shoes at a time that you alternate between. This distributes the stress of all your running between two pairs so that they last longer.
Alternating also gives the cushioning, or EVA foam, in your shoes time to decompress and return to its natural shape. When you run, the foam decompresses from the impact so allowing some time in between your next run in that pair of shoes will allow the foam to decompress and dry out so that it can provide the correct amount of cushioning and shock absorption that it’s supposed to.
Another benefit of running in two pairs of shoes is that if you have two slightly different types of running shoe, your muscles will work slightly differently which will help keep you from straining or fatiguing them.
Only wear your running shoes when going running
Because running shoes are so comfy and versatile (and you probably paid a hefty sum for them), it’s tempting to simply wear them as you go about your day.
However, doing this will wear out your shoes quicker. So if you like to wear running shoes all day then hang on to your old pair as they are still suitable for walking around, or, if you can afford to, simply buy a pair that’s main purpose is everyday wear.
Put them on and take them off the right way
Before and after runs, it can be convenient to simply slip or pull your feet in and out of your running shoes without untying the laces. This will end up stretching your shoes and breaking down the heel so make sure you always undo the laces when putting your shoes on and taking them off.
Wash your shoes
If you want to wash your running shoes, do not put them into a washing machine as the cycle will cause damage to your shoes. It’s always a better idea to hand wash them and scrub them clean with an old toothbrush or something.
If you do want to wash them in your washing machine, make sure you put it on a cold, gentle cycle as hot water will damage the glue holding the running shoes together and significantly decrease their lifespan.
Dry your shoes
If your running shoes get wet from a wash, rain, wet terrain or even sweat, it’s very important to dry them out properly. Never put your shoes in a dryer because it will cause a lot of damage.
A quick trick for helping your shoes air dry is to stuff some newspaper or paper towels into them and leave them to dry overnight. Newspaper is great at absorbing moisture and wicking it away from the shoes so it will help your shoes dry faster.
Pro Tip: In this podcast we cover how much mileage you should get as a heavier runner doing a large volume of running:
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