How often should you change your running shoes?
They’ve taken you on adventures in rain, sun and snow, over dirt tracks, city streets and muddy fields. But there comes a time when you have to replace your pair of worn out and well-loved trainers – and that’s when the signs you need new running shoes start to appear.
Experienced runners can often tell instinctively when to change running shoes – there are plenty of tell-tale signs in the trainers themselves, as well as how you feel when you run in them. Read our guide to understand when to change running shoes and what to look out for in a pair of shoes that are past their prime.
Why should you replace older running shoes?
As your shoes get older, the support systems in the shoes gradually break down:
- Air pockets get crushed: The foam used in your shoe’s midsole includes tens of thousands of tiny air pockets which absorb shock and rebound. However, after enough running, these air pockets start to break, and the air escapes – as a result, you don’t get the same cushioning.
- Cracks in the midfoot: Your shoes’ midfoot offers a lot of support for your arches. If cracks start to appear, your arches get less of the support they need.
- The shoes lose ‘balance’: The way you strike the ground may mean one shoe gets worn down more quickly than the other – and this means your feet don’t receive equal support, so your body is effectively running on an unequal surface.
Running in a pair of worn-out shoes can put your legs and feet under unnecessary strain, increasing your risk of discomfort and injury:
- Less cushioning: Over time, even the best running shoes stop providing you with the same amount of cushioning they offered when you first bought them. If the shoe’s support system is degraded, you risk damage and pain in your joints and feet.
- Less grip: Over time, the tread on your shoes inevitably wears down – and this increases your risk of slipping, especially on wet surfaces.
- Feet move too much: By the end of a running shoe’s life, it offers less structure in the upper part of the shoe, meaning your feet may move around too much – this can also cause stress on your foot and leg muscles.
It’s generally recommended that runners replace their shoes every 300 to 500 miles – to put things into perspective, that’s (very roughly) the kind of distance you’d cover when training for one marathon. After this distance, most running shoes will experience a fairly significant amount of wear and tear and no longer offer the kind of support you need. If you’re a heavier person, you’ll likely need to replace them more often than someone with a lighter frame.
How can you tell when you’ve run 300 to 500 miles? For people who run on tracks or treadmills, or who have a regular route where they know the exact distance, it should be possible to simply add up your numbers to work out when you’ve run that far.
However, if you don’t write down all your distances after every run, you might find it useful to download ASICS’ Runkeeper app – it logs every mile you run for you, and furnishes you exact data on the distance you’ve covered over time.Signs you need new running shoes
If you don’t happen to have recorded all your running distances so far, there are certain clues you can look out for in your current pair of trainers to estimate if they have much life left – or if it’s time to replace them.
- You’ve started to notice pain when running: Pain when running is one of the clearest signs of when to change running shoes. If you never noticed pain before, and haven’t had any other injuries or major changes in your running routine, worn-out shoes could be the culprit. This is especially likely if you notice the pain in both legs – feeling discomfort in both knees, in particular, is a sign that your shoes’ cushioning system has broken down.
- There are tears in the upper mesh: If you notice tears in the fabric around the toe box, this is normally a sign that the shoes are on their way out – your feet will move more as a result, and will not receive the support you need.
- The shoes no longer sit flat on the ground: Place your shoes on the ground and look at how they ‘stand’. A pair of newer running shoes will normally stand up straight, whereas older shoes will lean, or sag, quite noticeably.
- Midsoles feel soft and look ‘crushed’: The midsole is the part of the sole between the tread and the upper. If you compare a worn-out pair of shoes with a new pair, the midsole in the older pair will feel soft and look crushed, whereas in new pairs, the midsole feels quite rigid and holds its form.
Unlike most sports, runners need not invest in much equipment at all. However, making sure you’re running in a pair of supportive shoes is absolutely essential, as it reduces the risk of injury and keeps you running with the best form. If yours are on their last legs, it might be time to start browsing for a new pair of shoes – our shoe finder tool will help you narrow down to the right pair for you.
Does that mean you should toss that old pair? No. You can still use them for walking, or working in the garden – or consider helping out the planet by using trainer recycling services!