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When Should I Replace My Shoes?

How long do running shoes last? Are there secrets about when to replace shoes?

Some of the best advice is to change your shoes when they aren’t giving you what you need. “What you need” is probably defined as the reason you bought those shoes in the first place–a unique type of cushion, some specific stability, or even flexibility. If you consistently find yourself wondering if it’s time for a shoe update, then it’s time. 

Yes and no to the secrets. We’ll break down the recommendations and the reasoning behind those recommendations, but it’s ultimately a case-by-case situation. Every runner is unique, and that’s why we love you all.

Common Knowledge/Advice/Recommendations

The most common answer is that you should replace your running shoes every 300 to 500 miles. Who tracks that? A lot of runners but mostly triathletes (you know it’s true). Tracking your mileage, while tedious, is an objective way to decide when you need new shoes. You can say to your partner, “Babe, see, I’ve got 482.37 miles on these. Let’s go shopping.” And have no remorse. How can they argue with your data?

It’s never been easier to track your miles, thanks to the availability of GPS wearables and apps that add it all up for you and even give you an option to note your footwear per run (hey, Strava).

But what if you’re running on a budget or just love your shoes so much you can’t bear to part with them? Here are some other ways to gauge your shoe’s longevity. 

Long live shoes!

Where Are You Running?

The environment you run in/on can be one of the most impactful factors for a shoe’s lifetime. Surface, of course, makes a difference but so does climate! Some foams perform differently in warm or cold temperatures. 

Choosing a shoe that meets the demands of the terrain you run is the right way to go. If you wear a road shoe on technical trails, you risk injury and your shoes will definitely be worse for wear. 

How Long Have You Been Running?

We’ve already discussed mileage, but form is another thing to consider. For most people, the longer you run the more dialed-in your form gets. If you just started running your shoes might not last as long because you require more from them. 

Also, if you’re training for ultras or just have to get 100 miles per week you will exhaust your shoes much sooner.

How Are You Running?

Regardless of how long you’ve been running, you might be one of those folks who is so entrenched in poor form that you shred through shoes like no one’s business. In that case it’s not the shoe, it’s you! Although there might be a shoe that cooperates better with your…unique stride.

You’ll know this is you if you look at the bottom of your shoes and see pristine tread in some areas and tragedy in others. 

If that describes you, you might be wasting money! Come in for a fitting and see if there’s a shoe that fits your form better. 

The tread on my shoes is fine, why do I need new ones?

Judging your shoes by their tread alone does not give you enough information. The outsole of some shoes is made of super-duper durable compounds that would outlast twinkies and cockroaches if given the chance. The foam cushioning, however, is not so resilient. 

It’s true, shoe companies are getting better at making tougher and softer foams. Just think about how many steps you take in your running shoes in a week, though, and you might have more compassion for your footwear. 

Let’s say you run an average of 170 steps per minute and meet the American College of Sports Medicine recommended 150 minutes of physical activity per week. Yes, most of you reading this will run two or three times that (if not more), so do your own math. At those meager numbers, you’ve accumulated 25,500 steps of 2.5x your body weight each step in one week. And then there’s those days when all you want to wear is your running shoes… It’s a wonder that shoes can stay feeling cushioned for months! 

The foam will most likely wear out before the tread. So if your tread is merely a distant memory, you may be past-due for a new shoe.

Still Have Questions?

Come hang out! We love talking about shoes and running. We’ve got tons of experience and are total shoe nerds so we can get to the bottom of your problem.*

*Problem-solving limited to running and shoes.

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