How Long do Running Shoes Last?
Have you ever asked yourself such a question… how long do running shoes last? Probably not, but it’s definitely something that any decent runner needs to know. While we can always use our eyes as measuring devices – something I bet everyone reading this has done at some point throughout their life – we are better off adopting a more scientific approach if we wish to remain injury free.
Running in old worn out shoes can not only slow you down, but it can increase likelihood of injury by causing accidents, such as increased risk of slip hazard and RSI – repetitive strain injury.
It’s simply not worth skimping a few quid on a new pair of trainers. Anyhow, as you all should know, new trainers make you run faster, even if that one’s just in the mind!
The 5 Key Things to Look out for
- The tread is ruined.
- Shock absorption is shot.
- The mileage is adding up.
- They cover hard terrain.
- They’re your only pair.
The Tread is Ruined
This one is easy to check, if not absolutely obvious. We all know when our trainers are like a bald eagle – or have a napper like you’re best mate’s dad. When you run, especially on a hard surface like the road, the rubber gradually wears down on your trainers. You’ll have noticed that it’s on the outside usually, but this depends on your gait and how you roll your foot. Regardless of your running style, what happens is that once the tread is worn away, this causes the traction to degrade so you might slip or fall and end up in hospital, worst case scenario, or at best you will have a few scrapes on your hands that won’t exactly be nice.
A little scuffing isn’t going to cause a problem, but keep an eye on your shoes and check them over at regular intervals. Once you feel that the soles are too thin or not providing enough protection then get down to the sports shop or even better have a browse online.
You don’t even need to leave your home to get a good pair of sneakers. If you’re buying your normal brand of shoe then you should be fine with the same size, but if trying a new brand be cautious when shopping online that the different style or brand might be a half size bigger or smaller.
When I buy Nike I get a size 9, for example, but other brands like New Balance are a little tighter and 9.5 is better for me. The crazy shoe people don’t help because some have a 9/43 then others will have a 9/44. You’d think they would all get their heads together and agree standard sizes. First world problems, eh? 🙂
Shock Absorption is Shot
While your rubber soles and tread are easier to check, the shoe’s platform or mid-sole is a little harder to run your beady eye over. It’s possibly easier if you use the bend-and-squeeze test. You shouldn’t be able to roll a pair of running shoes up like a pair of socks. If they’re too flimsy then you already know the answer – in the bin.
What you should find if the shoes still have some more miles left in them is a springiness and solidity about them. Also how do they feel when you are actually running in them? If the landing feels overly hard then you need a new pair. Your legs and bones will be your best friend if you treat them to a nice and comfortable pair of new running shoes.
If you suffer from shin splints then it goes without saying that you will need to pay close attention to the lifespan of your shoes. It’s a horrible sensation when the shooting pain of shin splints fires up your legs. When pounding the pavement the force is a lot more than if you are running on soft ground, which along with new shoes is the best way to care for your knees and legs.
You can think of soft ground a bit like swimming. It’s a lot harder than running on fresh air – but that energy it’s absorbing and making it harder to run is what is also making it kinder on your body and joints.
The Mileage is Adding up
Your shoes shelf life will depend on many factors including your body weight and style of running, as well as what type of surface you run on and what, if any, aftercare you give your shoes once you’ve finished training.
When your shoes are brand new write inside the tongue with a pen what date you first started using them. It’s not essential, but will give you a quick guide, if you ever remember that you wrote it there in the first place.
How long’s a piece of string? Ask how long a pair of running shoes last to ten different people and you’ll get ten different answers. There really is no right and wrong answer. You just have to judge each pair of trainers individually, if the truth is known. Some say between 300 and 500 miles so if you run 20 miles per week – 80 miles a month, then you will need a new pair of sneakers between 4 and 6 months. To us it seems reasonable if you have to buy 2 pair of trainers a year. Heck, there are some hobbies – like drinking – where you can spend that in one night out.
Running isn’t just cheap, it’s smile inducing and helps you live longer. Long live running, eh? One thing, it will always out run everyone’s trainers, bad jokes aside.
There isn’t a lot to say about mileage, apart from your eyes are you best weapon. As well as do your trainers look shot, for some folks out there the answer will be more of a fashion statement – do they now look a bit scruffy?
They Cover Hard Terrain
If you run outside on rough and rocky terrain, plus branches and even tough bramble bushes, can snag your shoes and cause small holes to develop in the material. When these are left untouched and not repaired, the holes can obviously enlarge and cause problems if they get too big.
Leaving your shoes damp for long periods of time can cause the glue to weaken and in the worst case your soles can even separate from the upper part of the shoe. While people don’t tend to put aftercare on modern materials, in the same way they did with leather in the past, you can still purchase waterproofing sprays and waxes if you think that would help preserve your gear?
These are all things you can keep an eye on and monitor. We recommend that for most people all you need to do is keep your trainers clean and brush off any debris after a run. You can expedite the drying of wet shoes by stuffing them with newspapers. Also don’t dry them out too quickly by sticking them in front of artificial heat, as that is a recipe for disaster if you melt or shrink them.
When the time comes for a new pair, your sneakers will be giving you the eyeball as if to say: “I’m done, Boss!” While you can get all gooey and reminisce about the hills that you once climbed together. Nah, maybe not.
They’re Your Only Pair
If you have only one pair of sneakers that you can trust to get through any run or workout, but don’t give them any rest, they will wear out quicker than if you have two pairs and rest and rotate them with one another.
The trouble with foam is, if you don’t give it a break it will get more and more compressed until it becomes solid. Once it has got to this flattened level there is no going back.
When you run with flattened and softened shoes, your legs will be taking the hammering that the foam is intended to do. Use your common sense and judgement. You will be able to grab a cheap pair of trainers for £20 each at a big sports chain like Sports Direct. They have loads in the sale at all times and just as a test, I bought a cheap pair alongside a Nike pair to see how much of a difference there is and to be honest they’re both comfortable.
The expensive brands are mainly more of a fashion statement. Not to mention it’s better to buy cheap trainers and constantly replace them than keep hold of a posh pair for too long.
Look after your body and your body will look after you! (That’s what we hope, anyway.)
So How Often Should I Change Them?
There are numerous reputable sports brands and most of these have their own scientific research department. This is where they do the important geeky stuff like work out how much force goes through our bones when we land after a stride. While this isn’t the type of craic you want to have on a first date, it’s all good stuff to know and hugely important so you don’t get impact injuries, either one-off breaks or repetitive stress injuries that occur over a longer period of time.
While brands like Nike and Adidas are the most popular, mainly due to their huge fashion following, when it comes to running, it’s the smaller brands that athletes tend to trust unless they are sponsored of course. You’ve most likely heard of Brooks and New Balance, Saucony and newer brands like Salomon and Asics.
The King of Running Shoe Brands is?
Without a doubt, the king of running shoe brands are Asics. They’re Japanese and we know how reliable Honda car engines are. Need I say anymore. Hence, nearly all marathon runners wear Asics. Don’t believe me, just see how many are wearing them next time a race is televised.
According to the Asics website, then… podiatrist and ASICS PRO Team member Clifton Bradeley explains when and why you should be thinking about changing your shoes.
“When you take your new ASICS running shoes out of the box all pristine and clean, they are also at their most protective and supportive.
Like any product used regularly, they will wear out eventually. How quickly this happens is determined by your mileage, body weight and foot type.”
- Running on the road all of the time will wear out your shoes quicker than running off-road
- Running in excessively worn running shoes may increase your risk of repetitive injuries in the feet, legs and pelvis
- A heavy overpronator who runs daily will wear their shoes out faster than say a lighter, neutral runner who runs every other day
“I would recommend you change your running shoes between 450 to 550 miles.”
You should keep track of your shoes mileage in your running diary. Check out this list for the typical signs that your shoes are about as much use as running through a bowl of mashed potato:
- The outer black rubber sole has worn through to the white mid-sole.
- The usually firm mid-sole feels too soft and collapses easily under light pressure. You may see longitudinal creases in the mid-sole.
- The heel counter becomes mobile, wobbly and less supportive. It doesn’t have the rigidity it once did.
- Your toes rub and wear through the toe-box, and the shoe upper has torn away or has tears in it.
- The shoes no longer look alike – one shoe sole becomes asymmetrically worn when compared with the other shoe.
- The stiffness has departed. One or both shoes no longer stand up perfectly straight when placed on a flat surface.
If you identify one or more of these factors then it’s time to visit a specialist running store. You can always take your old running shoes to have an expert opinion before you splash out, but our advice is just go and buy a pair. You’re only delaying the inevitable and think of a new pair of trainers as a treat. They should put a smile on your face and encourage you to get out more. That’s money well spent in our book.
Five More Runner’s Reads
- Running Weight Loss Plan
- 24-Hour Running
- Is Running Good for You?
- Places to Run Near Me
- Learn How to Run
How Long did Your Running Shoes Last?
Let our regulars know how long your previous pair of running shoes lasted? It’d be fun to find out who has got the highest mileage training shoes among our readers.
I’m guessing that there are trainers with at least a thousand miles out there? Although that sounds a lot, I’m sure the mileage could soon be racked up, especially with some keen runners out there pounding the footpaths and trails.