After searching for months or even years, you finally find the perfect pair of running shoes and unleash a happy dance that not even Beyoncé could outdo (just like when you tried your favorite Fitletic gear for the first time and thought ‘where have you been all my life?!’). Once you begin training in your shoes, it’s important to keep them fresh. Not fresh like squeaky-clean (although not a bad idea!), but fresh in the sense of how many miles you’ve put on them. So how do you know when it’s time to replace them?
Many of you have probably heard that it’s best to log your mileage and replace your shoes after 300-500 miles or 6 months. This is a good general guideline, but keep in mind the factors below to get a better idea of when your shoes will cross their final finish line.
How Do I Know When to Replace My Shoes?
- Your weight
- Training frequency & volume
- Shoe rotation
- Training surface
- Foot type
A 120-pound runner will be able to put significantly more miles on their shoes compared to a 190-pound runner. The more weight your shoes have to support, the faster they will experience wear and tear. Once you begin seeing the bottom tread wear off, that’s your cue to head to your local running specialty store and find your next ‘perfect pair’ of running shoes.
Training Frequency & Volume
Do you run 3-4 days per week and average 15-20 miles weekly, or do you train 5-7 days per week and average 25+ miles weekly? The more miles you average in a given week, the sooner you will be ready for a new pair of shoes.
An athlete who rotates between two or three pairs of shoes will extend the life of their shoes drastically compared to someone using only one pair. Rotating gives the insoles and cushioning materials a chance to regain their original form and spring. If you don’t currently do this, give it a try and see how much longer your shoes will last (and we all know shoes are not cheap!).
Running on a hard surface, like the road, will wear down your shoes much faster than running on softer ground, like a trail. Know that if the majority of your training is done on the road, the life of your shoes will be on the lighter side of the mileage spectrum above.
If you over-pronate (you push off the ground mostly with your big toe and second toe) or supinate (you push off mostly with the outside of your foot and smaller toes), you are not evenly dispersing the pressure of your foot strike. This will cause certain areas of your shoe to wear down much faster than if you were to push off evenly across your forefoot. Try to balance your push-off in order to get more miles on your favorite shoes!
Training beyond a shoe’s lifetime can cause a change in your foot strike and gait, which often leads to otherwise avoidable injuries. If you’ve been using your shoes for a few months and begin to experience a minor ache or pain out of the blue (especially in your lower back and knees), it may be time for new shoes. *Use your discretion—if it is more than a minor pain, play it safe and schedule a visit with your doctor to rule out something more serious.
As with most things in life, the answer cannot be chalked up to one simple answer. Logging your miles is a great place to start, but take it a few steps further. Doing a little self-assessment to see how you relate to each of the factors mentioned above is sure to help you make the best possible decision about when to replace your running shoes.
Let’s keep the miles and smiles going!