When should I replace my running shoes?

This is one of the top three questions new runners and even established runners ask me. (the other two are “Have you ever pooped your pants during a race” and “How do you run so many miles?” We will address these two another day ;))

I talked about this topic in the very early days of the blog. (Like a week in) I was going to repost it but decided that I wanted to change, update, and maybe even bullet point some things (this is the teacher in me coming out now can you tell??) I’m by no means an expert, but I do know a thing or two about shoes. I also have never been injured (knock on wood). Part of that is picking the right shoes for me, and partly because I know when to send them to retirement.

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Runners are known to wait to long to swap out their shoes, and that can lead to injury. Think of it this way: your tires in your car are going bald. Do you wait a while to replace them? No-you do it right away. Try to think along the same lines with your running shoes: They are, after all, an extension of your body to help you run better, protect your feet…. Take care of yourself by knowing when to replace them!

Every time I retire a pair of running shoes…A little part of me cries. We have been through so much together, these shoes and I! They’ve experienced my good moods, my bad moods, my PMS moods….in the days before I met my husband, we shared our fair hours together of heartbreak, ANGER, and frustration.?We bond over the 250-400 miles (mileage is depending on the type of shoe, of course)

I keep a little note in my phone that I update after every single run…I have a lot of shoes, and I could never keep track of the mileage in my head!
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These are some points/tips I would like to address to help you with when you should be changing your shoes:

1. THE TWEAKS.
No matter HOW much I love a particular pair of shoes
—I will not hesitate to retire it if I start to feel what I call “The Tweaks.” This is how I know the time has come. I often feel pains after running that aren’t usually there. For example, the muscles in back of my knees will start to randomly feel strained/pulled. Sometimes its my ankles. Sometimes its my feet not feeling supported. Sometimes I’m just MORE sore than what is normal. When this happens, I assess the situation and take a few days off from running in that pair. When I come back to it, if I have The Tweaks again…then off to the Good Will they go.

2. Mileage
Every runner is different with how long their shoes will last them. Some runners will maximize a possible shoe until it is literally falling apart. Some runners call it quits after only 100 miles in a pair of shoes. I am somewhere in the middle of pushing it to the breaking point and getting rid of them early. I have been in Brook’s Pureflow 2’s for about a year, and I have found that the shoes tend to “live” for about 250-275 miles. But…Lisa at Running Out of Wine says her Pureflows last her 350 miles. (See what I mean about every runner being different?) My “heavier” shoes are my Brooks Ghosts and I have found that these live until about 400-450. (Sometimes up to 500, but that’s only if I’m trying to be good cheap and save money verses buying a $120 pair of sneakers.)

My advice to those of you questioning “should I get new shoes”: when you are feeling the tweaks—take a look back at your training log/runkeeper/garmin/mapmyrun and try to figure out how many miles have been run in your pair of shoes. Heavier shoes can last 400-500, lighter can be a range of 200-300, depending on the shoe. Most shoe companies will list on their sites how long their “shoe life expectancy” is. If you are nearing this number it is probably time to get a new pair.

3. Wear and tear
Take a look at your shoes. When they are close to retirement, the outer sole begins to wear down. If you’ve bought a new pair, it is easy to compare the two and see the breakdown between them. If your shoes are starting to look like this…..GO GET NEW ONES.

4. If other weird things start happening
If your shoes never caused you any pain before and suddenly are blistering you, it’s time for a new pair. I don’t mean blisters because you went for a run in the rain, and your feet got all soppy. I mean more blisters being caused from your every day runs. This goes for newer shoes too–if you are running in a pair of shoes for 30-50ish miles and they still don’t feel broken in or just don’t feel like an extension of your own foot then you’re probably in the wrong shoe.

How do You find the perfect shoe for you?
Ok maybe this is the other most popular running question I’m asked. Every runner/person is different with what kind of running shoe jives awesomely on their feet and makes them feel like they can run forever-the best advice I can give you is to seek out your local running store. I don’t mean under armour or Dicks Sporting Goods-I mean the kind of store where runners are working there who know their stuff and can accurately fit you in a pair of shoes. They should testing your gait/analyzing your stride&pronation and even looking at your old pair of running shoes to help put you in a perfect pair of sneakers. Be prepared to answer Questions like:
-how many miles a week do you run?
-what kind of surface do you run on?
-are you training for something?

Small, local running stores are the best for this because you get one on one service and put into a good fitting shoe. And, if you end up hating said shoes–they usually take them back right away.

Once you find your perfect soul-mate (couldn’t resist!) buy another pair upon getting comfy in your current ones. And don’t wait too long to start breaking them in! As you retire a pair, you ought to be slowly alternating the new and old shoes!

I hope this is helpful for you AND your feet!

Question of the day: How long do your shoes last you?
Run Free, Run Strong!

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10 thoughts on “When should I replace my running shoes?

  1. Pingback: Step (Way) Back Week, Running Thoughts, and August Summary! | Running Around the Bend

  2. I am rotating between Saucony Virratas and Kinvaras right now … the Virratas have just over 1250 miles as of tonight, the Kinvaras around 250. Yeah, I can get crazy miles from my shoes … I totally go on the feel. I was SO disappointed when I tried some New Balance Minimus and they were only 600 miles old when I had to shelf them! Ugh!

  3. I can get about 350-400 in my Mizunos. I’m due for a new pair but can’t seem to convince the fiancé I NEED to spend $$ on new shoes… Maybe I should refer him to this post. We wouldn’t want me injured due to old shoes now would we?! 😉

  4. Great post! I carefully track my mileage in each of my shoes and rotate the different types for different types of runs. When I get to that 350 mark I really start to pay attention to if they are getting too worn out. I have ortholites that I sometimes add in that seem to add a little life to them…and I can usually get my purecadences up to 400. I’m not sure about the pureconnects because I don’t wear them as often (only for speedwork). Its weird because I will randomly get a blister and I’ve been wearing the same shoes for years. It will be like one run will cause it and I’ll have no idea why. I am always shocked that some people get 500+ miles on shoes!

    • I’m also really good about rotating. I am so careful with the miles I put on a single pair because I want to make them last forever, and I love the “fresh” feeling from a new pair!! Today I’m going to DSW to see if they have the pure cadences in my size!

  5. I guess the good thing about doing a lot of treadmill running is that my shoes tend to last longer! I really don’t keep track of the shoe mileage (though I should def start), but I do use a very similar strategy with the tweaks and wear & tear. I too have never had a serious injury (*knock on wood*) and when something doesn’t feel right, I take a break from the shoe for a bit before trying it out again to see if it was just a fluke (I’m always hesitant to just give up on a pair before its time – runners kicks are expensive!). Actually, this recently happened with my Asics – I started feeling these weird shin pains on a couple short easy runs, took a break from them for about 2 weeks, and tried them again recently for some 6-7 milers with no problems! My Asics (I’ve been wearing Asics for over 3 years) tend to last somewhere around 500 miles, maybe a bit more. For my Saucony Kinvaras, I’m not sure yet how long they will hold up (I got them in June), but it will definitely be less. I will likely need a new pair before the marathon since I plan to run it in them!

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