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2015 Articles

I enjoy writing and pointing out the fun, flaws and nuances of my sport to share with everyone.

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When to Replace Your Running Shoes


An almost daily inquiry at a specialty running shoe store is some form of “How long will these shoes last?”

It’s a good question, and it depends on a handful of factors. Simply put, the user is running on a bed of high-quality foam, typically designed to last 300-500 miles. The normal recommendation is to replace the shoes every 5-7 months for the average user of 15-20 miles per week. Runners typically run at a cadence of 160-180 foot strikes per minute, with 3-5 times their body weight being applied at normal paces and as much as 8 times the body weight at quicker paces and down hills. What happens to the shoe as it nears the end of its life cycle is the foam starts to become downtrodden and carved out in the areas of greatest impact--the lateral heel and the ball of the foot, particularly the first metatarsal. Over time, like a mattress, running shoes will begin to show signs of a lack of springiness, so to speak. The pep in the step begins to diminish and the body weight will crush down on the foam with little return on the push off phase of the gait cycle. With this age and use, the foam will begin to form to the foot and sink into the areas where the greatest impact is constantly being applied and the shoes will begin to perform differently than they were designed, and not necessarily in a good way.  A good rule of thumb is to bring your current shoes at about 6 months and put your old ones on one foot and new ones right from the box on the other foot. Usually just standing up in the shoes, you’ll feel the difference right away.  


Other telltale signs that a pair of shoes is toast is to listen to your body. Sometimes you can gauge it after experiencing a random, inexplicable but recurring knee pain, ankle pain, foot pain, shin pain or even plantar fasciitis. Another way to check is to see how easy it is to push the foam in the forefoot inwards. The less resistance, the more likely the shoes are spent. Another good suggestion is to check the bottom tread of your shoes. If it has worn as low as the foam that used to be in between it, it normally means the shoes have seen better days (unless your foot drags excessively), and should have been replaced a lot sooner.

The mileage you get out of your shoes may vary by brand, and are affected by a number of variables:

  • The user’s height and weight (heavier weight = lower mileage)
  • The surfaces on which they run (harder pavement, rocky terrain that pierces the shoes = lower mileage)
  • The angle at which they run (excessive downhills = lower mileage)
  • The speed at which they train (faster cadence = more body weight applied on landing = lower mileage)


To sum it all up, the shoes are “done” when the resiliency in the cushioning is kaput.  

A good pair of shoes is a lot cheaper than physical therapy and certainly worth sparing yourself from the pain, anguish and stress that comes when you can’t do your sport the way you want to.  If you’re not sure, visit your local running specialty store and they may be able to help you determine if you need new shoes.