How Often Should You Replace Your Running Shoes?

Going on a jog through your local park or hopping on a treadmill at your gym is a great way to improve fitness levels, maintain a healthy weight, and boost your physical and mental health. However, going for a run with old shoes could do more harm than good.

As you run, your shoes are all that separates you from the ground, protecting your feet from damage and absorbing some of the blow as you take a step. Without proper protection, you’ll feel the impact in every joint, from your ankles to your knees to your hips and back. When running, it’s worth the time and money to make sure that you’re giving your body the tools it needs to stay safe and healthy!

When To Go Shoe Shopping

Experts recommend replacing your shoes based on mileage rather than the amount of time you’ve owned the shoes. After all, you’re going to be putting a lot more wear on your shoes if you’re training for a marathon versus occasionally going on a jog around the block.

Experts like Nike, REI, Fleet Feet, Shape, and Runner’s World all recommend getting new running shoes every 300 to 500 miles. If you keep wearing your shoes past the 500-mile mark, you can bet they’ll no longer be doing their job as well as they should.

How do you know how many miles you’ve logged on a pair of shoes? Try to estimate how long each of your runs is on average, how many times you run per week, and how many weeks you’ve been running since buying your shoes, and multiply these factors together. Alternatively, track your miles with a running app. Don’t forget to add extra miles if you wear your running shoes while doing yard work or grocery shopping. Once you get a new pair, mark the date on your calendar so you can more easily estimate when they’ve surpassed their usefulness.

The materials in your running shoes also break down over time, even when you’re not wearing them much. Therefore, some experts also recommend getting new running shoes after a year, even if you haven’t yet hit 500 miles.

Your Mileage May Vary

These guidelines provide a general idea of when your shoes may be past their prime, but you should also consider individual factors:

  • What your shoe is made of — Materials matter. A very lightweight running shoe will wear out faster than a sturdier, taller shoe.
  • The degree of damage — It’s often easy to see the wear and tear. Regardless of mileage, it’s probably time for new shoes if your old ones have holes, the treads on the soles are becoming thinner, or the foam on the inner sole doesn’t feel squishy anymore. This is especially true if the damage is uneven — for example, if the inner edges of your shoes are more worn than the rest of the sole.
  • Where you run — If you’re running on a hard surface such as a sidewalk or street, your shoes will be impacted more than if you regularly do trail runs.
  • What the weather is like Heat and humidity can take a toll on your shoes, making the materials break down more quickly.
  • How you feel — Some cramps and pains can occur after any run, but if you find that you’re regularly experiencing foot aches, joint pain, or blisters after your runs, it’s a sign that your running shoes aren’t offering the necessary support.
Replace Your Running Shoes

The Benefits of New Running Shoes

You may be wondering, how much does this really matter anyway? Are companies just telling me to buy new shoes so they can get more of my money?

While it may help a company’s bottom line if you replace your running shoes more often, you’ll see some benefits, too. Just as changing the oil in your car every 5,000 miles or so helps your car run better, running on fresh shoes can improve your performance and help you avoid injury.

For example, suboptimal support could change your running gait, making you move a little differently than you usually do. Not only could this slow you down, it could feel uncomfortable. In the long term, running with old shoes could put extra strain on your joints and trigger injuries like shin splints, stress fractures, or tendonitis. New shoes can help keep you safe.

Once you get a new pair of sneakers, you can also take steps to keep them lasting longer. Experts recommend keeping shoes clean, letting them dry out fully before wearing them again, and switching between two or more pairs of shoes for your runs. This may help keep your shoes comfortable and protect your health as long as possible!

By Mo McNulty

Maureen McNulty studied molecular genetics and English at Ohio State University. She has spent over a decade researching the genetic causes of — and possible treatments for — multiple types of cancer. Maureen is now a medical writer who is passionate about helping people use science to enrich their lives.