When Should I Replace My Running Shoes?

Posted by Ian (Race Runner and Collector of Bling) on Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Running to work for your daily commute is a great start to your day. Looking after your running gear, especially your shoes is key to keeping your daily commute fun and keeping you injury-free. Running in an old comfortable pair of shoes is great and generally, worry-free for a while, but when should you realistically replace your running shoes?

Factors that wear out running shoes.

Your weight – the heavier you are the quicker the cushioning of the shoe will break down.

How often you run in the same shoe – the shoe needs time to recover from being compressed during your running.

Your foot strike – You can see this by looking at the bottom of your shoe. Some areas will wear out quicker than others depending on the amount of scuffing when your foot strikes while you are running.

Running surface – Road running will wear out your shoes quicker than running off-road.

Running Style – a light neutral runner will not wear out their shoes as quick as a heavy overpronator.

Why you should replace your shoes.

The main reason you should replace your running shoes is the risk of injury. The longer you run in shoes that need replacing the greater the risk of injuring yourself.

Shoes and runners are all different. These are some of the indicators that you may need to replace your running shoes.

High mileage of your shoes.
You will need to be tracking the distance you are running in your shoes to be able to qualify this one. The general rule of thumb seems to be that you should replace your shoes when they hit the 300-500 mile (480-800 km’s) mark.

Your shoes feel flat and not bouncy.
Poor shock absorption and you feel the impact of every step in your lower body (feet, knees and hips). If you use the same brand of the shoe all the time you will know roughly when they are starting to break down by how they feel when you run.

Nagging aches and pains after a normal run.
If you’re feeling muscle fatigue, pain in your joints. Overtime running shoes will start to lose their ability to absorb shock, cushion your foot and be stable when running. When this happens it will increase the stress on your legs and joints which in turn will lead to aches and pains and can cause overuse injuries.

Worn soles.
If your shoes are showing signs of excessive wear or bald patches. The soles will last longer than the cushioning of the shoe. If the shoe is showing obvious signs of wear than it’s time to replace them.

Uneven wear.
Can also be a sign that you need different shoes to provide different support for your feet.

You may start developing blisters if your shoes are old and have stretched overtime past the point of being an optimal fit for your foot.

Try these Tests

The Twist Test.
For sturdy supportive running shoes that have a lot of miles on them, this is a good indicator that it time for a replacement. If you hold your running shoes at both ends and twist the shoe, it should feel firm. An old shoe or one that doesn’t have proper support will twist easily.

The Rigidity of the Mid-Sole Material Test.
Grab the heel counter which is the round stiff part of the heel. Then take your thumb and push in on the cushioning part towards the bottom of the shoe. When a shoe is new, this material will feel very rigid. However, when the shoe starts to age, the mid-sole material softens. This is when it’s time to time to think about replacing the shoe. Try this test when you first buy your shoes. This will give you an idea of how rigid this material should be. It will show you how it compares as the shoe ages and wears out.

How to extend the life of your running shoes.

You can get extra miles out of your running shoes by taking care of them properly.

You can achieve this by doing the following:

Rotate your shoes.
Have at least two pairs of shoes which you rotate the use of. This allows the shoe to recover from the compression they go through when you run in them.

Dry them out.
No matter how hard you try your shoes at some stage will get wet either from a misjudged puddle depth, being caught in a downpour or just from sweat. Make sure you dry your shoes out – preferably not in the direct sun as that can fade or dry out your shoes. Don’t put them in the drier or dry them with excessive heat as this damages the makeup of the shoe and will lessen its life and can also increase the odour factor in the shoes. The dryer can shrink the uppers, ruin the cushioning and even weaken the adhesives used in the shoe makeup.

Put them in a well ventilated airy place. Remove the laces (and insoles/ orthotics if removable) and pack with newspaper (this is a popular trick). Replace the newspaper when it becomes damp or wet. If you have a household fan set that up to blow air over the shoes. This will speed up the drying process.

Keep them clean..
Give them a good clean when they get dirty. Leaving them dirty is no good especially for the shoes upper and can cause them to wear out. Don’t put them in the washing machine. Just hand wash them with a sponge or rag with soapy water and let air dry. Putting them in the washing machine is one not good for your machine and two can damage the shoe.

Run on the designed surface.
If you have road shoes –run on the road and the same for trail shoes. Running on different surfaces than what the shoe was designed for will wear them out quicker.

Wear them only when running.
Don’t wear your running shoes out and about no matter how comfortable they feel. This just decreases the time before they wear out.

Putting them on and taking them off.
Don’t be lazy and not undo the laces when taking them off or putting them back on. This just stretches the shoes out of shape.

Cold weather holding you back? check our article on maintaining your running commute in winter