How Often Should I Change My Running Shoes?

It’s that time of year again, where we can all finally break out of the gym and hit the great outdoors running! But more miles means more abuse on your running shoes. And just like you change out tires on a car, it’s important to change out the shoes you use for running. The reason for this is because running shoes are designed to absorb shock and balance your step on the road. So when the midsole (usually constructed of EVA foam) wears down, the shoe is no longer assisting your run in the way it was biometrically designed to do. And although the New York Times has pointed out that there has been no conclusive studies to show that old shoes lead to more running injuries, they certainly aren’t helping you either.

So the questions is, how long is too long to wear your favorite pair of running shoes? 6 months? 500 miles? It’s no secret that the big brands will tell you to trade up after about 300 miles, but at over $100 a pop, is a new pair of running shoes every few months really necessary for the average runner?

To find out what’s right for you, it’s important to know your shoes and your running habits in order to keep up a happy and healthy running regime.

Here are some questions that will help predict the life expectancy of a shoe:

How much do you run? More miles run means your shoes will be worn out more quickly.

What type of terrain are you running? This will affect the stability of your shoes as well — concrete or pavement is the hardest on soles and treads, but track or dirt paths are a bit more forgiving.

What kind of shoes do you have? With the myriad of choices and designs out there for running shoes, each one is going to be constructed a little differently. Lightweight shoes with a minimal profile will probably have less padding and shock absorbency to begin with, this means they will wear out a bit sooner, whereas a shoe with a thicker sole might be able to take a few more miles.

Now here are some signs to look out for to see if your shoes are shot:

Check the midsole:

The midsole is the most important area for support and shock absorbency. Live Strong advises that you put your shoe on a table (or other flat surface) to see if it sits level. An off-balance shoe indicates a wearing down of the sole. You can also look at the tread itself to see which spots look thin or worn down.

Another trick is from marathon runner and coach Tom Fleming, who says to take your shoe in your hands, placing one on the tread, and the other inside on the bottom sole and wiggle your fingers around. If you can feel your fingers wiggling through the sole, it’s probably time for an upgrade.

Check your milage:

For serious runners on a schedule, it can be easier to keep track of timing rather than milage. For instance, if you run 3–5 miles, 4 times a week, it’s safe to say you’ll hit 500 miles in about six months. If you’re only doing 3–5 miles once a week, you will probably get a few more months out of your running shoes.

Check your body:

A great way to tell if the shock absorbency of your shoes is wearing thin is to listen to your body. Aches and pains in the shins, knee joints, and lower back can become more frequent when your shoes begin to lose their bounce.

Pro tip from Runner’s Academy: Rotate your running shoes! Rather than buying a new pair every six months, buy two pairs that you rotate weekly or daily as a way to extend the life of both.

Now get out there and hit the pavement! (Just make sure your shoes are keeping up with you!)

Written by Olivia Murphy

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