Regardless of whether you are running a 5k competitively or ultra-marathons for fun, you need to trusty pair of shoes to see you through. We are all too familiar with the pain and patience it takes to bed the new running shoes in, but once they are as comfy as slippers, how long can they stay this way before they’re too worn out? Before they start being the crux of injuries, and gait problems? See, cause research understands out-worn shoes change your posture and gait, ultimately altering the way you hold your body and run. It will start to take more of an effort each step with the decline in super-shock-absorption abilities running shoes possess.
But how do you know you have reached this point within your shoes’ life? I know it’s hard to part with running shoes that have taken you through your first race or marathon, but before long, they will start to hurt more than they’re helping… If you want to continue running, its time to understand when to say goodbye.
How long will my running shoes last?
As most things with running are measured in distance and not time, your shoes are the same; not a matter of months, but a matter of miles, Per-se. Although a bit of maths can help you figure out how long, your shoes will last you.
Obviously, we all get older – as do your running shoes but there is something to be said about how much you rest them (as well as yourself!) 2020 studies And how running shoe deterioration is affected, if you rested them for 22 hours per 20km of running. And according to their results, the running shoes who were rested absorbed more energy for the first 10k of the next training session, compared to those which weren’t. – what we are saying here is to keep your running shoes for running and nothing else – let them rest and reabsorb, otherwise their life span will decrease rather rapidly.
So assuming you only use your running shoes for running (and not walking the dog, or to work, or playing with the kids) we can start to look at the mechanical determination of your running shoes, and how long they are typically going to last you. By mechanical ageing, I mean the repetitive compression of the midsole with each step.
More studies (yes we’re all about the research) suggests that running shoes typically have a lifespan of 300–1000 km (200-600 miles). What a ballpark figure, right?
Shoe to shoe, design to design and training load to training load of the runner will impact the lifespan massively, as each runner’s gait, and subsequent plantar pressure pattern during running may change as the shoe wears.
What is interesting though the New balance 738 model was tested at 700km (434 miles), with male runners only (a little heavier than females on average, so would the women’s last a little longer? We’re not too sure) where the plantar pressure remained intact and supportive, but the midfoot pressure increased due to material fatigue and cushioning systems decline.
Other models tested at 500km (310 miles) of running, the plantar pressure increased by 100% (which is not good!) Along with structural damage of the shoes’ outer (holes and wrinkles) being obvious and impactful at 750km (466 miles). .
Off that research, we’re looking at significant mechanical changes within the shoe, at the 300-400 mile mark of your training,. Seemingly, the peak time/distance to move to a newer shoe – if you’re serious about staying injury free and performing your best. Because, need I remind you that the ageing, deteriorating factors of running shoes, such as fatigue of the foam, and increasing the pressure of the forefoot to midfoot areas, reduced heel strike cushioning, any one of those factors is a possible cause of running injuries.
Okay, but what about barefoot, minimalist style running shoes? – they don’t have cushioning to start with…
When should I replace my running shoes?
Brookes, Nike, and ASICS state their shoes are designed to last 300-500 miles, roughly 3-6 months if you ran 20 miles a week on average. Although a marathon runners will need to replace their shoes sooner than most others because they’re hitting an average of 40-50 miles a week, road runners will need to replace their shoes more often than trail runners, likewise, overpronators will need to repurchase running shoes more-often than a neutral runner.
What are the telltale signs that it is time to start looking for a new pair of running shoes?
- Trail lugs are worn down and your losing grip on muddy runs
- The mid-sole feels too soft and collapses under light pressure
- Toes wearing through the toe box
- Overall appearance of the shoes – are upper shoe tears, wrinkles and holes appearing?
- Shoe soles/treads are worn down – overpronators might notice a definite slope in the sole wear
- Feet start to get sore after a run, particularly arches, your shoes no longer hold the shape you need for support.
- Blisters start to appear – your shoes are changing shape, its time for a new pair
- Aches and pains start appearing in the knees, hips or lower back could start to get more aches as the shoes alter your gait and posture – a big indication of shoe cushioning is wearing down, and the need for a new pair of shoes is looming ever closer.
- Your calendar said so: especially for long-distance runners, making the day you bought new shoes, and how often/miles you are getting through a week, putting a reminder around 300 miles to reassess how your shoes are feeling, and every 50-100 miles thereafter.
Think you need new shoes?
Ticking a few too many of those telltale signs its time to get new running shoes? Not to worry, we’ve got you covered. You can find what’s best for you, with impartial reviews on how they feel after so many miles of testing for 2022!