How to Tell You Need New Running Shoes

If you run for more than a few months, then chances are you’re faced with the runner’s question: How to tell if you need new running shoes.

First, needed new running shoes is not a simple “every 400 miles”.  That is a ballpark answer, but it differs for every single person and every single shoe. Some people can get 1000, and some people get 200.  It depends on the individual.  Don’t immediately get rid of your shoes at 400 miles if you still feel good…

How to tell if you need new running shoes

First, Why Should You Listen To Me?

I worked in the run specialty for over 7 years. I have fit over 1000 people for running shoes answered hundreds (probably thousands) of running shoe questions. I want to think I know a few things about running shoes, their life span, and the running industry in general. I got the question of how to tell if you need new running shoes 99% of days I worked the floor.

The Short Answer of How to tell if you need new running shoes:

If you hurt and haven’t done anything differently in your training, it’s probably the shoes.

The Long Answer of How to Tell if You Need New Running Shoes:

There is no scientific proof that running shoes should be retired after 400 miles.  Four hundred miles is the average, but many factors play a role, such as:

  • Where you run (harder ground and cold can break down a shoe faster)
  • Your weight and how hard you hit the ground (causes the materials to break down quicker). This does not mean how much you weigh. This means how hard you hit the ground in key spots of the shoe. I’ve seen high school kids that barely crest 100 pounds only get 300 miles on their shoes because they are hard on them.
  • Your Form: If your form hits causes you to strike particular areas of a shoe, you’ll break down those points on the shoes much faster. For instance, I land very far on my toes, but because I put a lot of pressure in a tiny pinpointed area of a shoe, my shoes break down the quickest there.  Sure half of the shoe is usable, but it’s not the half I use.

So Here are Some Ways to Tell if You Need New Running Shoes:

First, you’re googling: How do I tell if I need new running shoes?  If you’re asking the internet and unsure, then your shoes have probably lost their cushioning…

You’ve Run a Lot in the Shoes: If you’ve spent at least 6 months in a single pair of shoes, they are probably reaching their limit.

If you can’t remember, a good way is to write the date on the side of the shoes.  It’s unnecessary to calculate the exact mileage of every pair of shoes you own. By knowing the date you bought them, you should be able to roughly estimate how many miles you’ve run in them.  401 miles versus 399 does not matter…

You’ve Been Injured: Injury can change your foot shape, size, and even your gait. After a running-related injury, it’s always good to get refitted for running shoes.

Your Body Hurts and You Haven’t Done Anything Differently:

As indicated earlier, if you’ve done nothing different but your body aches, and nothing feels good, your shoes are probably worn out. This is one of the easiest signs to tell if you need new running shoes.

You Can Visibly Twist Your Shoes:

Your running shoes shouldn’t be flexible. If you can bend and twist them, they have probably lost their cushioning.  Even brand new racing flats are hard to twist and bend.

You Flip Your Shoes Over and Visibly See Tread Worn Out:

Most people think the main way to tell if you need new running shoes, but by the time they are worn out like this, you are overdue.

If you flip your shoe over and see a hole in it or worn through the tread, it’s probably worn out.  This is what most people envision as a “worn-out shoe,” but just because you can’t visibly see wear marks doesn’t mean your shoes aren’t worn out.

You’ve Used Your Running Shoes for Other Things:

You can wear your running shoes for outside activities, but they will wear out faster. I wrote about that here. By doing that, you might not be able to tell you need new running shoes.

Finally, your local running store will be able to tell you need new running shoes. They are usually open and honest about it and not doing to tell you a shoe with 10 miles need to be replaced.

So now what?

As someone who works in a running specialty store, I always recommend getting fitted for shoes.  Your feet and body change.  That being said, if the shoe has worked for you and the model is the same, there is no sense in changing.

Every year styles are updated and changed.  This could mean they fit; differently, sizing is different, or they just “feel” different.  Updates typically work for the majority of runners, but that doesn’t mean 100%. Every year there are several running shoes you’ll probably need to adjust your size.

Finally, current styles and models of shoes are never any cheaper online.  Older styles of shoes might be cheaper, but they will also last less time.  If a shoe sits in a warehouse for long periods of time, it’s more likely to break down quickly.

Hopefully, you can get as many miles out of your running shoes as possible (staying healthy, of course).

Conclusion:

So how to tell if you need new running shoes? Like the short answer, if the shoe stops feeling good, you probably need new shoes. There is no exact answer of 400 or 1000 miles.

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Question for you: How do you tell if you need new running shoes?