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Replacing Running Shoes

How to Know When to Replace Running Shoes

Yes, you and your trusty running shoes have been through a lot together, logging mile after mile of memorable adventures. So we totally get it if you’re feeling, well, kind of attached. But while you might have fallen in love with your shoes right out of the box, there comes a point when you’re just not good together anymore. Wear and tear can take its toll, not only on your shoes, but also on you. The truth is, knowing when to cut ties with your old shoes and lace up new ones is essential to your running health and performance.

Why You Need to Say Goodbye to Old Running Shoes

They may be your favorites, but let’s face it, they’ve changed a lot since you first met! Like milk that’s past its due date, running shoes can go bad after so many miles (300-500 to be exact). Even if you can’t detect any visual signs of break down, outsoles weaken over time, cushioning becomes compressed, and the support and responsiveness of your shoes deteriorates.

When shoes are no longer performing like they used to, guess what? Neither are you! And worse, when shoes lose the ability to protect your joints from impact, you become vulnerable to injury. That’s right, we said the “I” word.

How to Know When to Let Old Shoes Go

There are plenty of red flags to watch for that indicate your shoes are ready to retire, but not all of them can easily be seen. Sometimes it has more to do with how your shoes are making you feel. You know the romance is over when:

  • You’ve logged 300-500 miles
  • Your feet and legs are tired after a normal (not intense) run
  • Your shoes look as tired and beat up as they’re making you feel!
  • You experience more and more aches and pains (knees, hips, back, you name it!)
  • The outsoles/treads are worn out
  • There are rips, holes, or fraying on upper and inside heels
  • The midsole is wrinkling
  • The midsole foam has lost its ability to bounce back
  • The cushioning is depleted and no longer feels comfy on contact
  • Shoes that were once unable to bend or twist become flexible enough to do so
  • The fit feels different (stretched out, weakened, or worn)
  • They just plain don’t feel the same as a new pair

Even if you’re not actually running in your running shoes and just wearing them for everyday use, they will still break down over time and need to be replaced, usually around the six month mark (or sooner if you're experiencing any of the warning signals above).

Factors that Affect How Long Running Shoes Last

Sure, the general rule of thumb is to replace running shoes once they’ve covered 300-500 miles, but this can vary depending upon a few things. In other words, there are factors involved in how long shoes last other than how far they've gone.

Stature

The cushion in your shoe is compressed between the ground and the weight applied with every step, so it makes sense that the more impact there is in your footstrike, the quicker your shoes break down.

Style

Where your shoes become worn depends on your gait and footstrike, so your style of running can have an effect on how long your shoes last. A gait analysis can help determine the best shoes for you to avoid having to replace them too often.

Surface

It’s not just how you run, it’s where you run. Rugged terrain puts your shoes through the ringer more so than running on a treadmill or road, for example. It’s imperative that your shoes are designed for the surface you run on most.

What’s the difference between shoes for road running versus trail running you ask? Well, trail shoes have outsoles with deeper lugs for better traction along with a stiffer midsole and more durable uppers for better protection. See what we mean?

How to Make Running Shoes Last as Long as Possible

We’ve established that your relationship with your favorite running shoes can’t last forever, and yes, breaking up is hard to do. But the good news is, there are ways to ensure you get the most out of your shoes before you have to bid them a fond farewell.

Only wear running shoes for running - wearing them for other activities, especially those that require lateral motion, will make them break down faster. That means no pickleball, please.

An occasional cleaning is fine, but… - only if it’s done properly. Skip the washer and dryer which can stretch and warp the materials in your shoes. Instead, take insoles out and hand wash shoes with warm water and mild soap, being careful not to totally soak them.

Stuff wet shoes with newspaper - heat sources tend to damage material and break it down faster. It’s better to stuff wet shoes with newspaper to soak up moisture, swapping out the paper once it’s saturated if necessary.

Rotate multiple pairs - it’s okay to commit to more than one shoe. In fact, it keeps things fresh! Having at least two pairs in rotation allows you to alternate between runs, so your shoes have time to dry thoroughly and the cushion can take a breather to reset.

Don’t ignore warning signs - remember the rules and red flags that you’re due for new. Don’t be tempted to make it a long goodbye!

Get the right fit - the right shoe can’t do its job without the right fit. Professional shoe fittings ensure you’re wearing the shoe that best meets your needs and supports your build, your body mechanics, your training, and even your goals.

Need Help? We Happen to Know Some Experts!

If you’re still having trouble knowing when it’s time to trade in your old shoes for a new pair, stop into Gazelle Sports. Bring your old faves along and let us take a look. We’ll give you expert advice and a free gait analysis as part of our complimentary shoe fitting. Or, you can connect with us online if you like — we offer virtual fittings too.

Bottom line? If it’s time to say so long to your shoes, don’t worry, we’re here for you!