While you’re hitting the pavement or running the trails, you count on your shoes to last long and offer support. However, even the most durable pair eventually needs to be replaced.
So, how often should you change your running shoes? In general, running shoes should be replaced after 300 to 500 miles of use. For runners who average twenty miles a week, this is about every four to six months. Heavier runners should change shoes at around 300 miles.
Smaller or lighter people can generally go longer between replacing their shoes than heavier or larger people can. Consider switching out your shoes seasonally, or about four times a year, so you can try different shoes and be sure you’re wearing a pair that is in good shape. It may be difficult to track how many miles you have ran, so this rule of thumb can help you.
Most shoes you buy will tell you what their ideal terrain is. If it doesn’t say, then know that most shoes are made for road running. Many runners have crossover during their runs, and this can impact how long the shoes last.
How you run also plays a role in the length of time your shoes will last. Those who are heel strikers will find themselves changing their shoes more frequently because of the stress this running style puts on the shoe.
For runners primarily doing trail running – With trail running, your shoes are subjected to the elements more. As soon as a rock pokes through the sidewall of your shoe, it is time for a new pair. Trail shoes will get wet and adjust to temperature changes, and because of this, you’ll find that you are changing out your trail shoes more than shoes that you use indoors.
On rocky terrain, the midsole will take more pounding, and you will have to replace your shoes sooner.
For runners primarily doing treadmill running – One study suggested that runners who wear minimal shoes on the treadmill perform better, so keep this in mind when shopping for treadmill shoes.
When buying new shoes, try to stagger them out instead of buying two new pairs at once. If you do choose to buy two new pairs at one time then ask the salesperson if you can get a discount.
Extending the Life of Your Shoes
On top of rotating the shoes, there are a few things you can do to help to lengthen the life of your shoes. When you are putting them on and off, be sure to undo the laces and tighten them instead of sliding the shoes on. This helps the body of the shoes to stay strong and intact.
You can waterproof them in order to help with outdoor running conditions. If they get wet, try putting newspapers inside them to wick away moisture and replace it about every four hours.
Don’t put your shoes in the washing machine when you’re cleaning them – dry clean only. You can also keep them clean yourself with a cleanser made specifically for running shoes. There are also sole protectors you can use. Other products, like shoe Goo, can help with repairs.
Knowing When It’s Time For A New Pair
Here’s some specific things to be on the lookout for. If you are noticing any one of these items, it may be time to replace your shoes with a new pair…
1. You’re having more pain
An increase in aches while running or after can be caused by shoes that need to be replaced. As the shoe wears down, the cushioning will wear down. If your knees, ankles, or hips hurt more than usual, your shoes might be the culprit. Muscle fatigue or shin splints may be caused by a decrease in cushioning in the shoes that happens as they are worn down.
Pain on both sides especially means that you need new shoes.
Sore feet are also another sign that your shoes need to be changed. Stiffness or soreness in the bottoms of your feet, especially near the arches, can be because of shoes that should be switched out. The shoes may have worn into a shape that doesn’t suit your feet, which can be causing the pain.
Shoes that are worn down also may not provide enough shock absorption. You will start to feel every step and impact as you are running, which is a big sign that you should look into getting new shoes. Having good shock absorption helps reduce strain on tendons, joints, bones and muscles.
2. Visible wear and tear
Take a look at your shoes. Is the sole wearing down? Is there fray around the stitching?
Soles are made to last longer than the shock absorption and cushioning. This means that if you see your soles wearing down to be uneven, then it is time for a new pair of shoes.
Look at the treads, or the grooves, of your shoes. If they are worn down or smooth, then it is time for a new pair of shoes. The tread grips the running surface and helps to reduce the shock.
Check the shoes to see if they are being worn unevenly. As well as indicating that you need new shoes, it could be due to a gait issue while you’re running. If the front is more worn down, then you may be turning your feet too far in while you are running. More wear on the outside of the shoes means that they are turning too far towards the outside while you’re running.
If you’re looking at the shoe and it looks exactly like the top of your foot, it means that the material isn’t holding up the way that it used to. When the material isn’t holding its form then they are too worn down.
Any cracks or tears in the midsole also are a sign the shoe isn’t good to wear anymore.
3. Loss of comfort and blisters
Shoes that feel good to run in help with overall performance and might help you to run more. Take a look at the midsole. Press into it with your thumb and see how it feels. A midsole that is slightly hard instead of spongy means that it is worn down and your shoes should be changed. When the midsole feels tough then it is compacted and not working the way it should.
Are you getting blisters when you didn’t get blisters before? If your shoes aren’t fitting the way they used to, then they could be wearing down. They could have changed shape due to the many miles that you’ve used them.
Should You Alternate Your Running Shoes?
Having more than one pair of running shoes is a great way to make the shoes last longer. If your shoes get wet on long runs, it gives one pair time to dry out. You should try to find two pairs that you like equally so you have the same wear on them.
Studies show that runners who train in more than one pair of shoes have reduced risk of injury. Wearing different types of shoes while training can encourage the foot to develop variability in foot strike. This can also result in fewer injuries. Allowing shoes time in between training sessions gives the shoes time to recover and to get back to their original shape.
At the minimum, runners should have two pairs of shoes that they are training in. Using different types of shoes will stimulate different muscles and can help to build endurance. It can also lessen the strain on the body while it is running because shoes distribute the impact from running differently.
Even the same type of shoe can be drastically different from year to year as technology changes and design upgrades. You may prefer a certain type of shoe over the other depending on the kind of running you do. For running on pavement, a cushioned shoe might be better than a zero-weight shoe, while for trail running, you might want to use something that is made for rugged terrain.
What To Do With Old Running Shoes?
You don’t have to throw out your shoes once they need to be replaced. You can wear your old running shoes while doing yard work or mowing the lawn. Old running shoes can be good for wearing to the gym while lifting weights or doing calisthenics.
Another option for your used sneakers is to donate them. Bring them to Goodwill or a charity so someone can give your running shoes a second life. Organizations such as Soles4Souls specialize in connecting sneakers with people who need a second pair. They have kept more than 35 million shoes out of landfills with their innovative programs.
If your sneakers are slightly more than gently used, you can donate them to be reused. Nike has a program that collects used shoes to be re-purposed for playground material. You can drop off your shoes (any brand) at Nike stores.
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Megan is an outdoors enthusiast who loves gardening and the fresh air. She has traveled extensively across the United States and has lived the #vanlife. Megan enjoys skiing, camping, hiking and meeting new people.