Knowing when to replace your running shoes can save you from misery. Conventional wisdom says to replace your running shoes every 300 to 500 miles. That’s a considerable gap in mileage and time. Using that criteria, a runner who logs 20 miles per week could wear the same pair of running shoes for six months. However, that same pair of running shoes might last only one month on the feet of a competitive marathon runner. And, of course, climate and terrain can effect the longevity of running shoes. If you are a heavy runner, or routinely train on hard paved surfaces, you’ll need to buy new shoes sooner than your light-footed peers who hit the trails.

Running shoes are expensive. The average cost for a new pair of running shoes is about $120. So, it’s easy to understand why people like to hang on to their old shoes for as long as they can. But is it worth the risk?

According to a 2009 poll by Runner’s World magazine, roughly 66% of all runners suffer from injury each year. Of course, these injuries are not all related to running shoes. But, many are. As the shoe wear out, it can no longer absorb the impact and stabilize the foot as it was designed to do. This failure sets up a chain reaction that stresses the muscles, bones, and joints beginning at the ankles and shooting upwards through the knees, hips, lower back, and up to the neck and shoulders.

5 Signs That You Need to Replace Your Running Shoes

  1. Visible wear and tear on the upper or the outsole of the shoe that compromises structure and integrity. Often treads will be worn smooth, or holes will appear in the fabric above the toenails.
  2. Lack of bounce or rebound. As the EVA material in the shoe compresses and loses elasticity, runners will notice their running shoes feel flat.
  3. The heel counter no longer secures your heel in the pocket.
  4. Compression wrinkles in the midsole. This indicates the collapse of material used to support your foot during impact.
  5. Shoes no longer stand perfectly upright when set on a flat surface.
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5 Ways to Make Your Running Shoes Last Longer

  1. Save your race specific shoes for racing. Shoes made for racing generally last only half as long as shoes made for training.
  2. Alternate between two pairs of running shoes.
  3. Save your running shoes by wearing them only when you run. Cross-training activities will destroy them.
  4. Clean and dry your shoes after running in messy conditions.
  5. Run on soft surfaces part of the time.

The best advice is to listen to your body. Some running shoes will last longer than others. If you’re concerned that your running shoes are no longer doing their job, it’s time to find some new ones. My favorite pairs of running shoes become my walk around shoes. After that, they become yard work or garden shoes. The others are donated directly to local charities.

Thoughts?