How Long Do Running Shoes Last? How to Know When to Replace Them
If you've been running for a while, you may start to notice that your shoes have been looking a little worn down. Whether you're training for a marathon or regularly hitting the trails to stay in shape, it's important to know how long running shoes last and how often they need to be replaced to prevent any injuries. Read on for tips on how to extend the life expectancy of your running shoes and how to tell if your running shoes are worn out.
How Long Do Running Shoes Last?
A typical pair of running shoes will usually last 300 to 500 miles or three to four months.(1) How often should you replace running shoes? This may differ from person to person depending on body size, the quality of the shoes and how often they're used. For instance, a marathon runner will have to replace their footwear much sooner than a casual jogger.
Factors that impact how long running shoes last
There are multiple factors that impact how long your running shoes will last. These include the terrain you're running on, where you put the most pressure on your feet each time you take a step and of course the shoes' material.
Make sure you're using the shoes for the terrain they're designed. For instance, running shoes aren't interchangeable with trail shoes, as each type of footwear comes with specific features tailored to their use. So if you intend on hitting the dirt more often than pounding the pavement, you'll want to put on the appropriate footwear for trail running.
If you plan to run outside, conditions like ice, rain or mud can have an additional impact on your shoes. In this case, you might want to consider additional features like waterproof options or toe protection to help navigate rugged terrain. While running indoors on the treadmill can keep your shoes more pristine, keep in mind they may wear out more quickly from hitting the belt in exactly the same position each time.
Overpronation or supination
Pronation, or the way your foot rolls on impact when you run, can cause the outer part of your shoe to wear down faster. There are three types of pronation:
- Neutral pronation: The foot rolls forward as you step and weight is distributed evenly across it.
- Overpronation: The foot rolls too far inward, applying uneven pressure across it.
- Under pronation: The foot doesn't roll inward as much as it should, putting too much weight on the outside of the foot.
In addition to extending the life of your shoes, wearing the right running shoes for your type of pronation can prevent injuries such as arch pain or a rolled ankle while also stabilizing you when you run.
Selecting the cheapest shoe available may save you money upfront, but if it's of poor quality, it could show wear and tear much faster. Having to replace your footwear more often could cost you more in the long run.
Keep in mind, however, that a higher price tag doesn't always correlate with better technology and more comfortable features. The most durable shoe for your foot is the one that offers the most accurate fit, as it prevents friction or tension that could lead to rips or tears later on.
How to know when to replace running shoes
When is it time to say goodbye to your running shoes and start shopping for a new pair? Look for these warning signs:
- Worn soles and treads: Just like tires, your running shoes can also lose tread, thanks to repeated impact on the ground. This is a sign that other materials in the shoe have likely also stretched or worn down.
- Holes anywhere: Over time the breakdown of materials in your shoe will result in tears and holes. This can leave your foot prone to sliding back and forth in your shoes.
- Blisters: When soles and padding wear off, this can lead to blisters as your shoes are not cushioning or keeping your foot in place effectively anymore.
- New aches and pains: Pay close attention to unexplained new soreness, stiffness and pain in your knees, hips, ankles and the bottoms of your feet — especially if you haven't changed your training plan or shifted your habits. This could be a sign that the cushioning is wearing down in your shoes, and they no longer fit your foot properly as a result.
Tips for making running shoes last longer
Consider these tips to prolong the life of your running shoes(2):
- Use multiple pairs of running shoes in rotation: Alternate between several pairs to avoid consecutive runs in the same shoes. This allows each pair to dry completely and for the cushioning to reset before you put them on again.
- Untie your shoes when taking them off: This keeps you from jamming your feet in or kicking off your shoes, which weakens the heel counters that keep your foot in place and support alignment.
- Keep them clean: Hand wash your shoes with warm water and mild soap, making sure to take out your liners first. Never soak them and avoid using a washing machine or dryer as this can stretch out your shoes. Stuff them with newspaper and allow them to air dry.
- Make sure your running shoes are the right fit: Shoes that fit you properly from the moment you put them on the first time will provide a more comfortable run over their lifespan. There's also less chance of materials ripping or tearing because of tension or strain.
Many factors play a role in how long your running shoes will last, including your own biomechanics(3). Finding a pair suited to your unique needs and the shape of your foot is one of the most important ways to ensure their healthy lifespan, while also avoiding injuries caused by old running shoes. Using them for their intended purpose and giving them some TLC when required can also boost their longevity.
1. "How to Choose the Right Running Shoe," Hospital for Special Surgery. Accessed March 23, 2022. https://www.hss.edu/playbook/how-to-choose-the-right-running-shoe.
2."How to Pick a Running Shoe," Cleveland Clinic. Accessed March 23, 2022. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/how-to-pick-the-running-shoe-that-is-best-for-you/.
3. "Selecting Running Shoes," American College of Sports Medicine. Accessed March 23, 2022. https://www.acsm.org/docs/default-source/files-for-resource-library/running-shoes.pdf.