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WHEN TO REPLACE YOUR RUNNING SHOES

Even your favourite pair of running shoes get old and worn out giving you a much higher chance of getting running injuries to your ankles, knees, hips and more. In this guide we break down the signs to look out for when yours need replacing.


How often should you replace your running shoes?

It’s generally accepted that the standard lifespan of road running shoes is somewhere between 300 miles and 500 miles, or around 500-800km if you’re that way inclined, and lightweight shoes tend to be somewhere between 250 and 300 miles. So if you’re running 20 miles per week, you’ll probably need to replace them after 4-6 months.

 

However, where you fit in that range depends on a few things:

Surface

It seems obvious but if you wear your shoes solely on the surface they’re made for, they’ll last longer. 

 

If you have sections of your run that take you off-road in road running shoes, they’re a lot more likely to wear quicker or get damaged as they are made for running on smooth straight roads. However rougher and hotter paths will also lead to quicker wearing. If you only ran on a treadmill your shoes would last longer, but then you wouldn’t go anywhere.

Running style

There isn’t a right style of running, however it’s important to know how your foot strike impacts the wear of your shoes so you can be more wary of it and buy shoes that are better suited to you.

 

Look at the sole of your used running shoes and see which area has the most wear, this should indicate where your main impact zone is.

 

If it’s under the big toe or to the side at the front of the shoe, you’re leading with your forefoot. This is most common for sprinters and hill runners and it can lead to the outer sole breaking through and exposing the midsole.

 

It’ll be a similar story under the ball of the foot if your midfoot is your main strike zone.

 

Wear in the heel is the most common for long distance road runners and excessive heel wear, even if the rest of the shoe is fine, means your foot and ankle are exposed to injury as the shoe’s support is reduced.

Your build

Because most shoes are made for the average runner, if you’re heavier or taller than average then the shoes will wear quicker and you’ll be on the lower end of the 300-500 mile spectrum. 

 

It’s also recommended that you get more supportive shoes to make sure that you’re properly protected.

How do you know when running shoes are worn out?

Tracking apps like Strava allow you to record which shoes you’ve worn for each run, so even if you’re using more than one pair you know how many miles each one has done.

 

Top tip: write the date you bought your shoes on the inside and use that as a guide.

 

However, if you don’t know how long you’ve had your shoes or how far you’ve gone, here are some signs that it might be time for a new pair:

New pains

If you’ve started to get new, unexplained aches and pains during or after your run, it might be time for a change.

 

During your run, you might get shin splints, joint pain or muscle fatigue if your shoes have lost cushioning. If you’re getting the same pain on both sides, it’s likely your shoes need replacing.

 

Your cushioning might be worn if you develop achy ankles, hips and knees after a run and if your feet are getting more sore or stiff the shape of your shoes might’ve been worn down so they no longer fit properly. The same thing goes for new blisters or friction burns.

Worn out treads

The soles tend to last longer than cushioning and shock absorbency so it’s highly likely that if your soles are worn down then so is the rest of the shoe. 

 

Again, take note of the wear pattern as uneven wear might be a sign that you have the wrong type of shoes. If you do notice uneven wear then it might be to do with your running gait, make sure to get a gait analysis before you buy your next pair.

Tough midsole

Press your thumb into the side of the midsole. If it feels tough (it should be a little bit spongy), then the cushioning has compressed and you’re not getting proper support when you run.

 

If you’re feeling the impact of each step in your joints then the shock absorption has reduced which can also lead to injury.

 

You can do the twist test to see how your shoes’ support is holding up. Hold your shoe at each end and try twisting. It should feel firm and if it twists easily then it probably doesn’t have proper support. This won’t work with lightweight shoes though, only more sturdy pairs that rely more heavily on the support.

Noticeable difference with newer shoes

It’s a good idea to have two pairs of running shoes at any one time, rotating them each run and getting a new pair around halfway through the life of the older ones when you can feel them wearing down.

 

What’s more, wearing new, more comfortable shoes helps to maintain proper technique.

Major wear and tear signs

  • Worn upper: If the sole is fine but the sides have worn through you might need larger shoes, stretch laces or shoes with a reinforced upper
  • Fraying inside the heel: this might indicate the wrong size shoe as the friction from your ankle could wear it down while you run. This could be helped by tying shoelaces more securely to prevent your foot from leaving the shoe.
  • Midsole feels too soft: if it doesn’t spring back and collapses under pressure it’s time to replace the shoe. You might be able to spot creases, particularly in the impact zones.
  • The shoes don’t stand straight when on a flat surface
  • Heel counter becomes less supportive, even mobile

How to make your running shoes last longer

If you find your shoes aren’t lasting as long as they should be, here are some tips to getting the most out of each pair:

Only wear your shoes for running

Obviously the more you wear them for activities other than running the quicker they’ll wear as emphasis is placed on areas of the shoes that aren’t as supported. It also just adds empty miles onto their count.

Always undo and redo your laces

Slipping your shoes on and off will wear the heel down and stretch the shoe. An alternative to this is get laces that don’t need to be tied like Nathan Lock Laces.

 

Similarly, having the wrong lace pattern can cause quicker wear, so make sure the way you’re laced up is right for you.

Keep your shoes clean

Make sure to remove any dirt after your run and remove stones from the treads. 

 

If they’re super dirty and it doesn’t come off easily use a sponge and soapy water - not a washing machine - and air dry them or if you’re in a rush to use them again, stuff them with newspaper. 

Wear the right socks

Shoes are protected from the outside, not the inside, so if your socks aren’t meant for running or aren’t good quality they can cause damage to the inner material. Lower cut socks can also prematurely wear out the inside so longer socks are recommended for shoe longevity. 

Rotate multiple pairs

As we’ve already mentioned there are numerous benefits to having two pairs of shoes on the go. 

 

On top of using a new pair to check the wear of an old one, a second pair means that you can select the best shoes for that day’s run, if you get wet on a run there’s plenty of time to air dry your shoes and your shoes won’t dictate your running style and make transitioning into the next pair harder.

If you're not sure, ask our experts

You can take your current shoes with you into your local Runners Need running store, our staff will be able to tell you how your shoes are faring and whether or not it’s time for a new pair. You can also get a free gait analysis test to make sure you’re buying the right shoes for you.


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