How Often Should You Replace Your Running Shoes?

by Greatist
Share it:
How Often Should You Replace Your Running Shoes?

Greatist-Logo.jpgWhen it comes to equipment, running is a simple sport—regardless of whether you’re training for a 5K, a half marathon, or a full marathon (or just jogging around the neighborhood). Generally all that’s needed are the right clothes and, more importantly, a good pair of running shoes. But just how long does a quality pair of running kicks last, and how do you know when it’s time to swap in a brand-new pair? (Hint: Don’t ask Forrest!). We dive into the science to ensure your feet stay looking (and feeling!) their best.

WHAT’S THE DEAL?

When the Greeks ran foot races in the olden days, they usually did so barefoot and naked. Since then, running with clothes and shoes has become more of the norm (phew!), and, with the advent of the modern day athletic shoe, perhaps a little more comfortable.

Developed to be protective and add traction, running shoes have  evolved to incorporate lightweight materials that cushion the foot from the trauma of running. Most cushioning comes from EVA foam, a lightweight material injected with air cells designed to absorb impact.

But, like all good things, the foam eventually loses its magic. According to some researchers, that can happen anywhere from 300 to 500 miles after the first wear. For a runner doing five 3-mile runs per week, that comes out to a new pair every five to six months. (Let’s hope Santa comes twice this year!).

Why rush to pick up a new pair? Once that foam wears out, the risk of overuse injuries increases, because the material has lost its ability to absorb shock [1]. While some overuse injuries (like shin splints) are minor, others (like tendinitis) might require more serious treatment. One good way to avoid these issues: Regularly trading in your old shoes for new kicks.

YOUR ACTION PLAN

Why do experts give such a big range for the appropriate time to replace old sneaks? Every runner has a different weight and foot strike, both of which affect the cushioning of shoes in various ways (For instance, a heavier runner who runs on their heels may wear out the shoe cushioning faster than a light runner who runs on their toes.). To eliminate all those miles of guesswork, here are some quick signs that those running shoes need to be replaced:

1. Try the press test. Press a thumb into the center of the shoe, where the midsole is. If the midsole feels tough and unyielding (rather than cushy with some “give”), then it may be time for a new pair.

2. Look for signs of creasing in the sole. Look at the midsole, then use your thumb to press on the outsole into the midsole. When the midsole shows heavy compression lines before you press into it, and doesn’t compress much when you press into it, that’s a sign that the cushioning is pretty much worn out.

3. Pay attention to aches and pains. While some say pain is weakness leaving the body, others say it’s an indication that something is wrong. A little twinge at the bottom of a foot could be your body’s way of saying that a shoe is past its prime.

4. Compare new shoes with old ones. Trying on an old pair of shoes immediately before trying on a new pair gives runners a direct comparison of which feels better. Once an old pair of shoes stops feeling comfortable, it may be time to change it out.

While many runners these days hit the road barefoot or in minimalist shoes with almost no cushioning at all, those athletes who opt for cushioned shoes would do well to remember that the cushion can only last for so long. Replacing shoes regularly should help keep runners comfortable and healthy for the long haul.

How often do you replace your sneakers? Let us know in the comments below!

References:

  1. Role of EVA viscoelastic properties in the protective performance of a sport shoe: computational studies.Even-Tzur, N., Weisz, E., Hirsch-Falk, Y., et al. Department of Biomedical Engineering, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel. Biomedical Material Engineering 2006;16(5):289-99.
  2. Role of EVA viscoelastic properties in the protective performance of a sport shoe: computational studies.Even-Tzur, N., Weisz, E., Hirsch-Falk, Y., et al. Department of Biomedical Engineering, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel. Biomedical Material Engineering 2006;16(5):289-99.
  3. Role of EVA viscoelastic properties in the protective performance of a sport shoe: computational studies.Even-Tzur, N., Weisz, E., Hirsch-Falk, Y., et al. Department of Biomedical Engineering, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel. Biomedical Material Engineering 2006;16(5):289-99.
  4. Heel-shoe interactions and the durability of EVA foam running-shoe midsoles. Verdejo, R., Mills, N.J. Metallurgy and Materials, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, AL. Journal of Biomechanics 2004 Sep; 37(9):1379-86.
  5. Role of EVA viscoelastic properties in the protective performance of a sport shoe: computational studies. Even-Tzur, N., Weisz, E., Hirsch-Falk, Y., et al. Department of Biomedical Engineering, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel. Biomedical Material Engineering 2006;16(5):289-99.

About the Author

Greatist

Greatist helps you find what’s good for you. Not like “eat your vegetables, they’re good for you.” More like “here are some choices you can realistically make, stick with, and feel really good about.” Because in the end, you don’t have to choose between being happy and being healthy; they’re really the same thing.

Greatist.Logo.White.RGB.Small

 

Related

16 responses to “How Often Should You Replace Your Running Shoes?”

  1. MelanieMamaof5 says:

    If I have been running regularly (2-3 times a week), I generally replace mine about every 6 months. And boy, am I glad when I do.

  2. Siphiwe says:

    I just replaced a pair I bought in September last year, I run an average of 12miles a week.

  3. Phil says:

    When my feet start to hurt I replace them, usually after a few hundred miles. I will use the old shoes at the gym.

  4. CoolRaul07 says:

    What about “walkers” like myself? I sometimes do “bursts” (e.g. <5 min) of 4.0mph, but usually average at 3.0mph because I focus on high incline rather than speed. I have a pair of shoes dedicated for treadmill and they have anywhere from 700-1000 miles on them. Yet, they still feel great; no foot/leg pain, etc.

  5. Ian Farrell says:

    500 running miles is the most I put on mine.
    At 300 miles I’ll order a new pair and use those for long distances (more than 10 miles) and the old pair use for less and less running until they reach 500 miles then just use them for gym work.

  6. Steve Doubleday says:

    Seems like I am contrary here – I have gone about 1100 miles this year on my minimalist runners from Reebok in all types of weather. I was thinking it might be time to get new ones

    • cerebralmastication says:

      I think these guidelines don’t make sense with minimalist shoes. Minimalist shoes are hard and compact in the sole from the first day. As long as the shoes are not unraveling or ripping, I don’t see any reason to replace them. I have a pair of Merrell trail gloves and a pair of NB both with over 1000 miles on them.

      • Rachel says:

        I agree. I have such a hard time telling when to replace my minimalist shoes…I have a little over 200 miles on them, but one is starting to fall apart at the toe. I love them! No pain yet, but they are pretty worn in a couple areas due to road running…I just don’t know when to replace them….high miles do make my feet sire in them but I’d say that’s normal.

  7. Dan Hatton says:

    I use a very simple formula for buying shoes. I participate in a marathon training program that runs from June to December. I purchase a new pair of shoes at the end of May for each new season and a new pair at the end of December for my off-season training. Shoes are a pretty nominal expense and I really enjoy getting each new pair. Brooks Ghost for me. Works out to about 300-500 miles on each pair.

  8. Tracy says:

    I replace my shoes about every 6 months (I run year round). I wear Brooks and replace them at about 600 miles when I can feel that they are no longer supportive. Brooks tend to be pretty high quality and durable, and I’m also a very small, light person (and I am not a heel runner), so I get some serious mileage out of my shoes before they need replacing. I keep my old shoes though and then use them for non-running activities, like walking, weight-lifting, etc.

  9. Spartan112 says:

    I am a heavier runner and replace them about every 3-400mi. Best bet is to always go with a quality shoe. A little secret I learned as well, don’t buy closeouts the EVA foam does not age well on the shelves and a pair that has been sitting won’t last as long.

  10. josephz2va says:

    Might be time to replace mine. I maximized my length of time on the treadmill. 15,000 steps a day and tore my right foot up doing 60 minutes per trip.

  11. Sammie says:

    I am doing a research paper on How Often I Should Replace my Running Shoes. This information you shared was very helpful with what signs to look for when you think your running shoes need to be replaced. I was wondering if you knew any ways to prevent your running shoes from becoming worn out faster?

  12. jefflawson says:

    Because of a goofy pronation, I find myself getting new running shoes every 3 or 4 months. #SpendyHabit

  13. Phil says:

    300-500 miles? so basically my shoes from 2001 are still good lol

  14. disqus_Ub4fvwt0g2 says:

    every 6 weeks… 300 miles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Never Miss a Post!

Turn on MyFitnessPal desktop notifications and stay up to date on the latest health and fitness advice.

Great!

Click the 'Allow' Button Above

Awesome!

You're all set.

You’re taking control of your fitness and wellness journey, so take control of your data, too. Learn more about your rights and options. Or click here to opt-out of certain cookies.