To get started running, you need little more than some motivation, somewhere safe to run, and a good pair of running shoes.
Sure, there are all sorts of fancy GPS running watches and moisture-wicking fabrics you can splurge on if you have the financial means and decide that you are going to stick with running, but certainly, one of the beauties of the sport is its simplicity and accessibility.
With that said, the importance of a good pair of running shoes that properly supports your feet and feels comfortable cannot be understated.
But, how long do running shoes last? How many miles on running shoes before they are worn out? Or is there a certain number of months before you need to replace your running shoes? How do you know when to replace running shoes?
In this article, we will answer the question, how long do running shoes last, discuss what factors affect the duration of your running shoes, and how to tell when it is time to replace them if you haven’t been keeping track of your mileage or how long you have been using them.
We will cover:
- How Long Do Running Shoes Last?
- Factors That Affect How Many Miles Running Shoes Last
- Signs You Need to Replace Your Running Shoes
Let’s get started!
How Long Do Running Shoes Last?
Like nearly all guidelines in the fitness and nutrition industries, the recommendations for when to replace running shoes will vary based on numerous factors.
However, the prevailing guidelines suggest that you should replace your running shoes every 300 to 500 miles (500-800 kilometers) or every six months, depending on which comes first.
For example, if you are an avid runner who puts in quite a number of miles every week, you should use the mileage guidelines to inform how often you should replace your running shoes—somewhere in the 300-500 mile range (more on this later).
If you run approximately 25 miles per week, this means that you should be replacing your running shoes every 12-20 weeks or 3-5 months.
If you average 30 miles per week, this would mean that you would need to replace your running shoes every 10 to 16 weeks (2.5-4 months).
Runners who average 35 miles per week would need to replace their running shoes every 8 to 14 weeks or 2 to 3.5 months.
If you run approximately 40 miles per week, your running shoes would last approximately 7 to 12 weeks or 2 to 3 months.
High-mileage runners who are hitting 50 miles per week will get just about 6 to 10 weeks or 1.5 to 2.5 months of use per pair of running shoes.
No matter where you fall on the continuum of your average weekly mileage, just take the 300 to 500-mile target and divide it by your average weekly mileage to find the ballpark of how often you should be replacing your running shoes.
We will discuss factors that will affect where within that range you will likely fall later on.
However, if you are a casual runner who only does a couple of miles a week, you should use the time-based guideline and replace your running shoes every six months.
For example, if you run about 10 miles per week, the mileage guidelines would suggest that your running shoes would last 30 to 50 weeks, which is the better part of a year.
However, you should ignore these distance recommendations and replace your running shoes after six months, even if you have only accrued 200 miles or so.
As much as the materials used to construct running shoes break down through use, which is why you need to replace your running shoes after hitting a certain mileage, the materials also have a “shelf life,“ in that they will break down over time without even being repetitively stressed by running in them.
Factors That Affect How Many Miles Running Shoes Last
There are several different factors that will affect how long your running shoes last, influencing whether you need to replace your running shoes every 300 miles (or somewhere on the lower end of the recommended range) or closer to every 500 miles.
Here are the primary factors that will affect how long you are running shoes last:
#1: The Quality of the Running Shoes
When answering, how long do running shoes last? the quality is taken into consideration.
The quality of the construction and materials of the shoes themselves can certainly impact the lifespan of your running shoes.
Cheap running shoes use foams for cushioning that break down more quickly and no longer provide the rebound or spring that they should. The outsoles might be made from a softer durometer rubber, causing earlier wear. Any supportive elements, particularly around the arch, can also break down more quickly.
On the other end of the spectrum, premium running shoes employ durable foams and gels for cushioning and have a more robust design and construction intended to hold up to heavier-duty use.
Buying running shoes from reputable brands and choosing mid- to upper-range models will help ensure that you are getting a durable, well-designed, well-crafted running shoe that will last longer than a budget off-brand model.
#2: Your Body Weight
Although not always the case, if you are a heavier runner with a larger frame or have a bigger body size, your running shoes will likely wear out a bit sooner because they are subjected to heavier loads and greater impact forces.
#3: Your Biomechanics
Runners with a relatively neutral stride and normal arches will get the most use out of a pair of running shoes because the shoes will wear down more evenly.
If you overpronate or have very flat feet, or supinate and have very high arches, there’s a greater chance that you will display an uneven wear pattern in your shoes and need to replace them sooner.
Plus, if you do overpronate or have other biomechanical or running gait issues, it is even more important that your shoes are providing the proper support to correct your running gait.
Therefore, it is even more important to replace your shoes as soon as they need to be replaced so that you are not running in unsupportive, worn-out running shoes.
The primary terrain you run on can affect the longevity of your running shoes. The friction and heat emanated by a treadmill running belt tend to wear down shoes more quickly. Soft surfaces and trails may prolong the lifespan of your running shoes.
#5: How Often You Wear Your Running Shoes
Your running shoes should be given at least 24 hours between subsequent uses to allow the foams, gels, and other cushioning materials time to fully rebound before being compressed again during your run.
Rotating your running shoes by alternating pairs of running shoes every other round will help prolong the lifespan of each pair of shoes.
#6: How Well You Care for Your Shoes
Keeping your running shoes clean and dry and untying them after use rather than stepping on the backs to pull them off can help prolong the life of the shoes.
Signs You Need to Replace Your Running Shoes
Here are a few signs that it’s time to change your running shoes:
- You have had them for at least six months or 300 to 500 miles.
- Your feet or legs are suddenly feeling achy or sore after running.
- The treads on the bottom are worn out.
- You are feeling more impact stress when you land rather than softer cushioning.
Keep in mind that none of these are “hard and fast“ rules; your running shoes might break down before 300 miles or seem to have quite a bit of life left in them around the 500-mile mark.
Rather than using the mileage recommendations as “gospel,” you should always prioritize and pay closer attention to how the shoes feel and perform rather than how many miles they have lasted.
If your running shoes seem like they are worn down and no longer provide enough cushioning and stability, or the treads are shot, and you don’t get ample traction, or the running shoe just isn’t holding up any longer, you should replace your running shoes right away rather than limp them along until they have lasted at least 300 miles.
On the other end of the spectrum, if your running shoes have lasted a good 500 miles or so and don’t seem to be showing any signs of breakdown (which is fairly unlikely), you are certainly welcome to continue wearing them if you so choose.
However, it’s always better to err on the side of caution and replace your running shoes a little bit prematurely rather than risk potential consequences such as injuries or pain by wearing worn-out shoes.
If you are still on the hunt for the perfect pair of running shoes, we have some great guides to help you find your pair:
How To Pick The Right Running Shoes, Our Complete Guide
Should You Buy Running Shoes A Half Size Bigger? A Guide To Get It Right