It’s a fact that a large proportion of runners fail to replace their running shoes at the right time and as as result end up running in shoes that do not provide adequate protection, in particular cushioning. So, how do you identify when is the right time to buy new running shoes and how much does it really matter?
Why replacing your running shoes is important
Running shoes can be pricey and inevitably you’ll want to get the maximum use out of them, but there are risks once the shoe is overly worn. Over time the shock absorption of a shoe reduces.
The obvious signs of wear are typically on the outsole of the shoe where you will see the tread starting to wear away. However, it is the wear to the midsole or cushioning layer of the shoe that can increase your chances of injury.
As the cushioning lessens over time, this means the the impact on the body with each step is greater. A runner with worn shoes may start to experience injury niggles which can worsen over time. A worn midsole can mean that the foot rolls inward or outwards more than normal, which can lead to ankle and knee problems. For this reason replacing your running shoes at the right time is of vital importance.
How to tell when you need new running shoes
The time after which you need to retire your running shoes is not the same for everyone. Naturally every runner wears out their shoes at the different rate, but here are a few things to look out for to help you work out when it’s time to purchase some new running shoes:
As a rough guide runner should expect to get about 500 miles (or 800km) out of their shoes before they need replacing. This distance will vary according to other factors such as body weight, foot type, pressure exerted while running, and the surfaces you run on most frequently.
For example, a runner who carries out the bulk of their runs on the road will be likely to wear out their their shoes faster than a off-road runner (over the same distance). Equally a heavy heavy overpronator will wear out their shoes faster than a light neutral runner.
In order to know how many miles you have completed in your shoes you should keep a log or use an app to record you runs against each pair of shoes that you own.
Take a look at your shoes for visible signs of wear. The first thing you may notice is that the the tread on the outer sole has worn down. In some case the tread may be gone completely or the midsole may even be exposed
Look at the midsole itself and see how it feels. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Are there tears to the upper shoe? – The most common will be the shoe wearing through at the toe box, but it’s possible that other parts of the the upper may be damaged.
Last thing to consider is how your running shoes actually feel. Ok, they are not going to feel as ‘bouncy’ as when you first bought them, but you should have an idea of how they feel now to you. Is there a massive fall off in the level of comfort they provide?
Perhaps the shoes feel less supportive, or are collapsing at the heel, or they may no longer feel ‘right’ to you. It’s possible that you are starting to experience more in the way of niggles, or even blisters that you weren’t getting before.
If you are starting to doubt the the shoes you are running in, then that is a good clue that they likely do need replacing. If in doubt get someone with specialist knowledge to take a look at them for you. Trying to eke out a few extra miles out of your shoes and running the risk of injury just isn’t worth it, plus you owe yourself a new pair of shoes anyway don’t you!