How to Know When You Need New Running Shoes


Arguably the most important piece of gear for every runner is a quality pair of shoes. In fact, many serious runners own at least a few pair that they wear in rotation. Most shoes are good for around 400 miles of road time, depending on factors such as the texture of the running surface, the runner’s weight, and how his or her feet impact the ground. A heavier runner with an imperfect stride will likely have to replace shoes more often than a lighter runner or someone with a more balanced footfall. Obviously, the quality of the shoes plays a significant role in longevity as well.

Key Shoe Replacement Indicators

But how do you know when it’s time to retire an old pair of running shoes? Watch for these tell-tale signs:

1. Tread Wear — This is probably the most obvious indicator that it’s time to replace your running shoes with a worn-down tread pattern. I’ve seen shoes that are so worn out that the outline of a bare foot starts to show through the tread! Not only will worn tread lessen the shock absorption of your favorite shoes, but it could also lead to a dangerous lack of traction.

2. Midsole Compression — Remember how great your shoes felt when they were new? Like walking on orthopedically supportive clouds, right? Over time, repeated battering from your foot compresses that pillowy midsole goodness into a tough, inflexible stratum. It no longer provides the same protection to your feet and joints and could lead to injuries.

3. Your Body Will Let You Know —  On the topic of that loss of arch support and shock absorption, your body will 100% tell you when it’s time to ditch your old running shoes. Your major joints — think ankles, knees, and hips — could start becoming more sore than normal after a run. Likewise, as running shoes wear out and lose their shape, they can rub differently, resulting in blisters or abrasions (aka “brush burn”). That’s not good for anybody.

4. The Dogs Are Barking — Related to point 3 above, if the pounding cadence of your run causes increased pain in the bottoms or arches of your feet, it could be time to upgrade your running shoes.

Running Is an Investment

We invest heaps of time and energy into this running hobby of ours, presumably with the goal of reaping the myriad health benefits. So it stands to reason that we should also invest what money we can into quality footwear and replacing those shoes when they have outlived their usefulness. A worthwhile ROI starts, literally, from the ground up.