When To Replace Your Running Shoes

Replacing running shoes

I, like the stereotype of so many girls, love to go shoe shopping. Unfortunately, the one exception to this is shopping for running shoes.

Replacing running shoes makes me nervous. Shoes play such a pivotal role in staying healthy while running. Getting a new pair always feels a little bit like a crap shoot- Will I love this pair as much as I loved my old pair? Will this pair get me injured?

It doesn’t help that running shoe companies update their shoes every year. Maybe the thing they added this year to be ‘new and improved’ will be the thing that will cause me injury. Runners will need to replace their shoes whether or not they are new and improved, so leave them the heck alone already.

Sorry, rant over.

I have recently reentered the fray of new running shoe shopping so running shoes have been on my mind lately.

I’ve worn Asics Kayanos for years and years, every iteration since Kayano 7. They just came out with Kayano 23. Most have been great. One year was terrible (I’m looking at you iteration 14). You just never know.

When You Should Replace Your Running Shoes

Shoes are made up of foam and other materials that don’t last forever. After a certain number of miles, the foam gets compressed and fabric frays.

When your shoes get old, your chances of injury increase. Don’t chance it.

I know it’s tempting to save a few dollars by running with old shoes months (or heaven forbid years) past their prime. But don’t.

Replace your shoes when they need replacing.

After 400-500 miles

The rule of thumb is that the useful life of a running shoe is somewhere between 400-500 miles.

This varies significantly based on the specific shoe you are wearing and the materials it is made out of. A specialty running store or the shoe manufacturer’s website can provide more information for your specific shoe.

As a frame of reference, the marathon training program I use runs about 450 miles in 18 weeks. I consider the useful life of my running shoes to be one marathon training cycle plus a month or two of moderate post-marathon running.

Replacing running shoes
The gear/shoe tracker in Garmin Connect

The distance your shoes have traveled can be tracked using online running programs like Strava and Garmin Connect. These apps can track the gear you use and have options to show you when you are due (or overdue) for a new pair.

Other signs your shoes are due to be swapped out:

The Sole Has Worn Out

Replacing running shoes
Heel wear patterns. Time for a new pair

Look at the bottom of your shoes. Are any wear patterns visible? If so, they are getting close to retirement.

The rule I use is that I should never see any of the white that is under the colored soles of your shoes. Or in the case of my current shoes, the pink material under the blue sole.

If you find that your shoes always wear out in the same places, consider going to a specialty running store or talking to a running coach. Wear patterns can be an indicator of issues with your running form.

They Are Looking Worn and Shabby

I don’t mean this in the cosmetic sense. Heaven knows my trail shoes look terrible after only a few wearings.

Look at the lining of your shoes. Especially in the heel area. Is it worn or torn (or close to tearing)? Is the fabric ripping anywhere?

Replacing running shoes
The lining of my shoes have seen better days

What happens if you keep wearing shoes with a frayed heel?

replacing running shoes
frayed shoe lining = unhappy heel

Bloody socks. Not a good look.

New Blisters And Hot Spots

Is the pair of shoes you’ve been running in (without issue), for months suddenly causing blisters?

Are you getting hot spots where you never have before? The common hot spot areas are on your toes or on the arch of your foot.

The foam (or whatever material your shoe uses for cushioning) is likely starting to wear out.

Your shoes are close to retirement age.

Helpful New Shoe Shopping Hint

If you find shoes you like and that work well with your feet, buy a few pairs, even if you don’t currently need a new pair. Hopefully, the next iteration will be just as awesome, but in case it isn’t, you’ll have a stash that you know are great.

Bonus points for keeping an eye on sales and clearance deals so you can buy your favorite shoes after they are discontinued but while they are still available.

This is a great way to save a few bucks.

When You Shouldn’t Buy New Shoes

Don’t buy new shoes immediately before a big race with the plan of wearing them on race day.

Even the most amazing pair of shoes can take a little while to feel right.

Give your feet and your shoes a little time to get to know each other before you head out and run a marathon together.


Replacing running shoes

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4 thoughts on “When To Replace Your Running Shoes

  1. great advice for any athletic shoes- my problem is I wear the same pair because when their broken in they are so comfy but have some of the problems you show above- i.e. lining around heel collar gets so worn that it aggravates my achilles tendonistis.

    1. I can sympathize! My current running shoes have been perfect for months, but the heels are wearing down. I don’t want to give them up and start breaking in a new pair, but it’s only a matter of time until they mess with my running form.

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