Shoe Life: When to Replace Running Shoes?

If you have been running on the same pair of running shoes for a while, perhaps its time for a change!  But if you are anything like me (cheap), you want to squeeze every last mile out of a pair of running shoes before you have to throw down another chunk of change on a new pair.

So, is there a magic number of miles that a pair of running shoes can take before they need to be replaced?  Well, I’m going to take a look at some of the factors that you need to consider when replacing running shoes.

One important thing to keep in mind, is that if you are running on a pair of old shoes that have lost the heel, arch, or other support or cushion, you actually do have a greater risk of injury.  Shoes that don’t support your feet properly, can put more stress on your ligaments, joints, arch, knees, ankles or other locations and cause unnecessary injuries.

Change Running Shoes Every 300 to 500 Miles

According to most running experts, you should be changing your running shoes every 300 to 500 miles or so.  This can vary slightly, but this is a good general rule of thumb.  So, the ideal situation is for you to keep a running journal of how far you are running on your new pair of shoes.  Mark the day that you purchased your new shoes, and then just add up the daily or weekly miles that you accumulate on that pair of shoes.  When you hit the 300 to 500 mile mark, its time to go shopping.

Heavier Runners

However, there are a couple of different factors that can make this 300 to 500 mile threshold vary.  If you are a heavier runner, your shoes are more likely to wear out a little bit sooner.  Others with a heavier step or different gate may also find their shoes wearing a little bit quicker as well.  Depending on your running style, weight, and other factors, your shoes could last longer or shorter than the 300 to 500 mile range.  This is just a general guideline.

Terrain

Another factor that may determine how long your shoes last, is the terrain you are running on.  If you are running on trails or other rough locations, your shoes may wear more quickly.  However, if you are running on smooth paths or walkways most of the time, you may be able to squeeze more life out of your shoes than normal.

Shoe Wear Patterns

If you are noticing significant shoe wear, then its probably time to replace your shoes.  The one side benefit to noticing your shoe wear patterns is that you can actually see what type of steps you are taking.  After all, if you are noticing your shoes are more worn on the outside of your heel (like my shoes to the left), then this can help you determine the type of shoes you should be purchasing that will give you more support.

For this reason, if you have never spoken with a running shoe expert (preferably from a specialty running shoe store, not a department store), its a good idea to take in your old pair of shoes and show them the wear patterns.  The shoe salesperson will then be able to see how you are running and match you up with a better pair of shoes (hopefully).  Again, you will likely need to go into a running specialty store to find someone with this expertise as opposed to just stopping by Sports Authority or somewhere similar.

Shoe Replacement Schedule and Calculations

So, lets take a look at how often you should be replacing your shoes if you are running 10 miles, 20 miles, or 30 miles a week.  (If you are running more than 30 miles a week, you have probably already figured out how often you need to replace your shoes).

  • 10 miles a week = 30 to 50 weeks to reach 300 to 500 miles (Replace shoes every 7 to 12 months)
  • 20 miles a week = 15 to 25 weeks to reach 300 to 500 miles (Replace old shoes every 4 to 6 months)
  • 30 miles a week = 10 to 17 weeks to reach 300 to 500 miles (Replace old shoes every 2.5 to 4.5 months)

At Least Once a Year

If you are not sure of how many miles you have run on your shoes, and you are also not noticing any wear patterns, it is still recommended that at least once a year you replace your shoes.  Time can wear the cushioning and won’t be able to provide the overall support that you need.

Rotate Old and New Shoes

One additional practice that some runners like to use is rotating old and new shoes. In other words, even before its time to replace their “old” shoes, they start running once or twice a week in their new shoes.  This extends the life of their old shoes a little bit.  Overall, it allows them to work in a couple of different pair of shoes before one pair gets completely worn out.  This can be good so that you can slowly “break in” your new pair of shoes before you start using them exclusively.

In conclusion, learning when to replace your running shoes is actually quite important to prevent injury.  So, be sure to keep track of when you buy your new shoes and how many miles you put on them.  Take note of any noticeable wear and consider replacing your shoes every 300 to 500 miles.

What thoughts do you have on the subject? If you have any additional advice, or other other questions, I’d love to hear about them in the comments below.

 

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