When Often Should You Replace Your Running Shoes?

I used to pride myself on wearing my running shoes into nubs. But, after incurring a few injuries that most likely stemmed from wearing worn-out trainers, I changed my ways.

Nowadays, I religiously replace my shoes after running about 500 to 600 miles in them. The truth is that my comfort and health are more important to me than a the $90 spent on a new pair.

In today’s post, I’m going to look into why you need to replace your running shoes, and how to find out when your pair needs to go.

Let’s get this ball rolling…

Why Do You Need to Replace Your Running Shoes

Running shoes wear and tear over time, and so does the support and shock absorption they offer.

How does this happen?

Although most of the visible wear and tear occurs on the upper fabric and the outsole, more than often, it’s the unseen, the internal support and cushioning that loses its cushy feel before the external features give away.

So why is the midsole so important?

Everything boils down to the midsole. This is the thick layer usually made of a foam material: Ethylene Vinyl Acetate (EVA), Polyurethane (PU) or a mix of both materials, and it’s what supports your feet throughout the gait cycle.

When viewed under a microscope, the midsole can be seen as made of hundreds of tiny air pockets that looks like a sponge. Every time your foot strikes the ground, these tiny air pockets compress just like a sponge react, absorbing the blow and returning the energy to you as you begin your next stride.

Over the course of hundreds of miles, the midsole breaks down. When that happens, it’ll no longer provide the compressing, rebounding, and impact absorbing qualities as well as it was new.

What’s the takeaway here?

The more miles you log in a pair that may not have the structure and components they were designed with, the greater your injury risk. And you don’t want that.

The Exact Range

According to conventional wisdom, you should swap out your running shoes every 400 to 500 miles. This means if you average 25 miles per week, you’ll need to get a new pair roughly every four to six months.

Go beyond this mileage and you risk discomfort and possibly a long lasting debilitating injury. And you don’t want that.

It’s Not Perfect

Although the 400-500 mile rule works very well, it shouldn’t be your sole deciding factor. This rule is too simplistic, and doesn’t apply to everyone and every shoe brand out there.

The mile variance depends on many factors, including your running surfaces, running style, and body weight.

For instance, heavy runners who tackle lots of trainers and hard terrains should get new shoes at the lower end of the recommendation. On the other hand, smaller runners who usually stick to softer surfaces should consider getting a new pair closer to 500 miles or more.

The Three Signs to Watch Out For

To make sure you’re making the right decision, here are three simple measures to ensure your running shoes don’t run you into the ground

1. Check The Tread

Examining the appearance of your trainers itself may reveal a few tell-tale signs that it’s time to ditch them. One of these signs is worn out treads, especially on the outsole.

The outsole is the rubber part of the shoe that comes in contact with the ground from heel to toe. It’s key because it provides the most obvious and clear sign of wear and tear.

Over time, the rubber on the bottom outsole starts to wear away. Just like car tires when they lose all their tread, the outsole will smooth over and start looking like the bald tire on a car.

Take note of any “bald spots” on the outsole of your shoe where the rubber has broken down. A little abrasion is fine, but if the tread is completely gone or the outsole is completely white, you need a new pair.

2. Check for Absorption

As previously stated, even if outsole may look fine and dandy, the wearing down on the inside of the shoe—or the midsole—might indicate that it’s high time to ditch a pair.

The midsole is key because it’s where most of the support and cushioning are housed. Over the course of months of training, the midsole breaks down and no longer offers support and cushioning like before.

A simple way to tell whether your trainers are truly worn out is to do a press test.

Put one hand inside of your shoe, then press your thumb into the center of the shoe, where the midsole is. If you can feel your fingers cramming through the shoe and/or the midsole feels rigid and hard, then it’s time to find a new pair with better cushioning and support.

You can also test your shoes for flexibility. Hold your shoes, laces up, then bend the toe back toward the heel. If the shoe folds easily, that’s a clear sign that the shoe lacks adequate support, therefore, isn’t appropriate for running.

However, if the shoe feels firm, then that means that it provides proper support.

3. You’re Feeling Pain

Last but not least, my best advice for knowing when to ditch a pair, wear and tear and mileage aside, is to listen to your body.

When your running shoes no longer provide enough support and protection as well as when you first started training in it, you’ll feel pain.

And by pain I don’t mean a debilitating injury. In fact, if you’re starting to feel pesky little niggles in places you had none before, especially in the form of sore soles, aching arches, tender shins, painful knees or other small irritations, then take a good look at your shoes.

This is especially the case if you’re experiencing pain on both sides—both knees, for instance. That’s a clear sign that you’re not getting the protection and support you once had from your shoes.


There you have it!

The above guidelines are all you need to know when to retire your running shoes. Just make sure to take action as soon as possible. Your health is the priority.

I’d love to hear from you if you have any questions or suggestions in the comments section.

In the meantime thank you for reading my post.

Keep Running Strong.

David D.

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