In the Netflix show, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, the world-renowned decluttering expert says that most people struggle to let go of things because there’s a strong emotional attachment or memory embedded in it.
As a runner, I’m sure you’ll have some fond memories from a particular race or event that you performed well in.
Perhaps it was running a personal best or you may have experienced a type of race for the first time or enjoyed a memorable atmosphere.
For that reason, you may be reluctant to let go of a favourite pair of shoes.
The potential outcome of running is worn-out shoes is an increased risk of injury, as well as compromised running performance.
In this article, we’ll look at:
- How Many Miles Should You Put On Running Shoes?
- 5 Wear and Tear Signs That It’s Time To Change Your Shoes
- 3 Factors That Affect Your Running Shoe Lifespan
Wondering how long your running shoes last?
Let’s jump in!
How many miles should you put on running shoes?
How long you can safely run in a pair of shoes before having to change them depends on a number of factors.
Each shoe manufacturer will advise something marginally different, most agree that you should look to change your running shoes after 350 – 500 miles.
Mileage Tracking Tip: Using Strava, you can use their shoe features to automatically track the miles you put on each pair you run in.
But no two pairs of shoes are equal – and no two runners are equal either.
The lifespan of a pair of running shoes depends on many factors, as we’ll get into.
Based on this advice, you’ll want to know how long do running shoes last?
Some would say that on average you should be changing them every 6 months, but obviously, this depends on how much you regularly run.
I remember once being told by a fellow athlete that the first day they wear a new pair of shoes, they would take out a permanent marker and write the date on the sole of the shoe. A useful trick as after 6 months, you’ll be advised to start looking at possible signs of wear and tear.
5 Wear and Tear Signs That It’s Time To Change Shoes
Although the colour and aesthetic nature of the shoe are important from some runners, most runners would probably say they care more about the support and cushioning that is provided by the shoe more than how it actually looks.
Therefore, if you find yourself in the latter group where you don’t care much about the appearance of the shoe, then you may find it hard to justify replacing your shoes when you consider them to be working fine.
Nevertheless, there are a number of things to look out for that would indicate excessive use and therefore wear and tear.
1. Uneven or excessive wear on the soles
Look for sections of your soles where the tread has worn a lot, or is completely gone.
This can be a sign that your footstrike and running form needs tightening up, but it’s definitely a sign that it’s time to change those running shoes.
2. Your big toes wear through the toebox
This may be a sign that your ankles lack flexibility, which causes your big toe to flex upwards. Some wall-based
But it’s definitely a sign that you’ve been wearing those shoes for probably a bit too long, and it’s time to change them!
Related article: Here’s How To Wash Your Running Shoes Without Aging Them
3. The heel counter becomes less rigid and therefore less supportive
Support is key to a good shoe, and that heel counter starting to lose it’s form is a key sign that your shoe isn’t supporting you as it should.
One of the reasons I recommend runners don’t wash their running shoes in the laundry is that it’s a quick way to lose that form and support.
4. The midsole feels too soft and collapses easily if you apply too much pressure
Midsoles should retain that springiness that supports your run.
If you’re running in the same pair of shoes all the time, they’ll wear out – and it can be hard to notice the gradual degradation.
That’s why it’s useful to rotate two pairs of running shoes – one fresher pair, and one older pair. That way, the fresher pair always reminds you of how a good pair of shoes should feed.
5. The outer sole has worn through to the midsole.
If you notice any of these signs of excessive use, then to prevent you from picking up an injury, you should look to replace the shoes as soon as possible.
Additionally, any indication of pain or a sudden niggle is as good a sign as any for you to check your shoe for excessive wear.
Your running shoes should be comfortable, provide support and cushioning, and leave your body feel good, with no real pain.
As a result, if you start to feel sore more often than in the past, especially the following areas: feet, hip, lower back, and shins, it could mean that a replacement pair is needed!
Listening to your body is usually the best indicator of any potential issues.
What factors affect how long running shoes last?
There are a number of factors that will affect how long your running shoes last and thus how often you need to be changing them. The three main ones are as follows:
Many runners spend a lot of time running on the road and therefore would usually use a shoe that is built to ensure that the support and cushioning provided is able to cope with the impact of hitting the hard tarmac surface.
There are also different types of terrain: trails and grass for those looking at running cross-country and then you have the soft surface of an athletics track.
So, the most important thing to increase the longevity of the shoe is that it is designed for running on the terrain of your choice.
#2: Running style
How you normally run and your running style also play a role in how many miles you are likely to be able to run in shoes before having to change the pair. Like most things, it would be hard to find two different runners with the exact gait and foot strike.
If you’re not sure how your feet strike the floor, take a look at the sole of your old running shoes, and see whether the front, middle, or heel carries the most wear. This information will help you choose a shoe that’s better suited to your running style and should last longer.
There tend to be three broad definitions of runners in respect to their style:
- Forefoot strikers – this is where the runner tends to land on the forefoot and front of the shoe. It’s the feeling of being “up on your toes,” and for most runners they only really have this sensation when they are doing sprints or hill training.
It is characterised by wear under the big toe or on the outer side of the shoe’s front.
- Midfoot strikers – the area under the ball of the foot (middle of the foot) that becomes worn in much the same way as the forefoot.
- Heel strikers – these types of runners usually land or transfer most of their weight through the heel of the shoe and this style is considered to be the most common foot strike type for long-distance road runners and marathon runners.
You can check for yourself! If your shoes are worn predominantly on the heel of the shoe, then you´re a heel striker. Unfortunately, it may also mean and may mean you need to replace your running shoes more regularly.
#3. Your build
Your weight and plays a key role in how often you should change your running shoes. Most running manufacturers use average dimensions when considering the design and structure of their shoes.
If you’re heavier than the average runner, it may mean your shoes are more likely to wear quicker.
Other the other hand, if you find that you are lighter than average then you´re in luck and your shoes will most likely last longer.
How to prolong the life of your running shoes
Although the average lifespan of a shoe has been noted before, there are a number of things you can do to at least maintain the shoes in as good a condition as possible and try and prolong their life:
1. Rotate between two of more pairs of shoes
this is important so that your body does not get conditioned into running in the exact same shoe all the time.
The reason being is that it will potential compensate for muscle balances (if the shoes aren’t quite right for you) and this could lead to problems and eventually pain.
Moreover, by wearing different shoes on different days, you’ll avoid putting too much stress on tendons and ligaments and simultaneously strengthening others.
2. Untie you laces before getting into the shoe
By trying to squeeze into a pair of running shoes will over time damage the structure of the shoe, especially the heel. So, take the time, sit down, and lace up your shoes every time you’re about to go out for the run.
Those couple of minutes when you can contemplate how you want your run to feel like can become a pre-run ritual in itself!
3. Keep them dry
there are times when you’re shoes will get wet (every day when I went for a run in Ireland), so drying them as soon as you can help.
Moisture can develop and will affect the glues and material of shoes, weakening them over time.
One trick of mine is using old newspapers to stuff inside the shoe and then leave them on top of radiator.
It’s always sad to say goodbye
It will always be a sad day when you have to get rid of a pair of shoes, especially if they helped you to a great personal best and you have some fond memories.
Thanks to another idea from Marie Kondo, there may be a way to help you overcome this emotional heartache.
By taking a photograph of your shoes beside the medal or race number from that fond memory, you’ll have a permanent record of them for the future.