How to Tell You Need New Running Shoes

If you run more than a few months, then chances are you’re faced the runner’s question: When I should buy new shoes?

First, it’s not every 400 miles.  That is a ballpark answer, but it differs for every single person.  Thinking out loud, 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…

While chit chatting with The Dumb Runner, via twitter, I realized how common of a question it was!

The Short Answer of Replacing Shoes:

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

The Long Answer:

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)
  • Your Form: If your form hits at exact points, 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 Determine if you’re Running Shoes have Lost their Cushion: 

First, you’re googling: have my running shoes lost their cushioning?  If you’re asking the internet and unsure, then your shoes have probably lost their cushioning…  

But here are Some Other Ways:

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…

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.

You Can Visibly Twist Your Shoes:

Your running shoes shouldn’t be flexible. If you if you can bend and twist them, then 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:

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.

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%.

I will say, 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 are able to get as many miles out of your running shoes as possible (staying healthy of course).

Other shoe related posts:
Factors You Never Knew Played a Role in Your Running Shoes
How to Choose the Best Running Shoes (For You!)
Should You Wear Running Shoes Outside of Running?
How Alternating Shoes Can Benefit Your Running:

Question for you: How often do you replace your running shoes?