When to Replace Your Running Shoes: 7 Things to Look Out For

5 min read

Brands recommend buying a new shoe pair every 350-500 miles (500-800 km). Individual runners keep their shoes anywhere between 250 and 1,500 miles (350-2,000 km).

Signs of wear are the surest way to know when to replace running shoes. A smooth outer sole, a flat midsole and a fallen heel counter are a few common ones.

To research this article, I worked together with running coach Sergey Schepin. I researched 12 brands’ websites and spoke to over 40 runners via social media.

Below, you’ll learn how long running shoes last. You’ll also learn how to identify worn-out shoes. We’ll finish off by going over what makes shoes wear out faster.

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Disclaimer: This guide was created for educational purposes. It neither offers nor replaces medical advice. Learn more here.

Table of Contents

When to Replace Running Shoes?

Brands tell you to replace running shoes every 350-500 miles (500-800 km). This is the case for Brooks, Asics and other brands.

Anecdotally, the runners we spoke to say 250750 miles. Running coach Kyle Kranz uses his for up to 1,500 miles.

A new running shoe’s life cycle varies greatly. It depends on materials used, running style and factors like storage temperature. Your shoe may last you 2 months – or 2 years.

There are ways to extend a shoe’s life. Example: many runners say the insole is the first part to go. By replacing the insole, you may get an extra 100-200 miles of use out of a shoe.

For now, as a rule of thumb:

  • Most running shoes last 350-500 miles
  • Minimalist shoes last 400-600 miles
  • Race-day shoes last 250-350 miles
  • Walking shoe models last 500 miles
  • New insoles can make running shoes last longer

The only way to know for sure is to buy and test a specific running shoe. Once you start seeing the signs in the list below, it’s time to replace it.

7 Signs you Need to Replace Running Shoes

Running in a pair of worn-out shoes is dangerous. It can change your running gait and exaggerate poor biomechanics. It can also reduce shock absorption.

This can lead to problems like plantar fasciitis, shin splints, knee pain, etc.

To know when to replace running shoes, keep an eye out for these signs of excessive wear. Replace your shoes once they appear.

1

Your Outsole is Visibly Worn Out

There are a few ways to know your outsole is done.

  • The tread pattern is rubbing out, leaving the sole smooth and flat.
  • You can see the midsole through “holes” in the outsole.
  • Parts of the outsole – the heel, the inside of the foot, the outside of the foot – are a lot thinner than others.

If you see these signs, replace your old pair of shoes.

2

You Have New Pains and Injuries

Are you getting hurt in new places? Worn-out shoes could be affecting your running mechanics.

This sign is a little trickier to figure out. Still, if you’re getting hurt repeatedly, consider getting a new pair of shoes or new insoles.

3

Sore and/or Flat Feet

Are your feet always sore, tired and flat after a run? The cushioning in your shoes could be worn out.

Sometimes, replacing the insole can help. If the midsole is worn out, you’ll need a new shoe pair.

4

Shoe Age

Materials like EVA foam wear out from use. Other materials, like polyurethane, wear out with both time and use.

This means that an old shoe pair can be unusable even if you’ve never worn it.

5

The Midsole is Tough

Most modern midsoles use foam materials. These contain air and compress over time. Once they start feeling tough to the touch, it’s time to replace your shoe.

6

A Worn-Out Upper

A worn-out upper with compressed padding, loose stitches, stretched-out mesh, etc causes two problems.

The first is looseness. If the shoe is loose and unstable on the foot, upper wear is often the reason.

The second sign of a worn-out upper? Blisters. If you’re getting these in a shoe that used to be comfy, the upper is likely done.

7

The Heel Counter is Leaning Inside or Outside

Running shoe heel counters are the rigid bits in the back of your shoe. They support and guide the foot when you run. They’re meant to stand up straight.

If the heel counter is starting to lean inside or outside, it’s worn out. Heel counters cannot be replaced and mean you need new shoes.

7 Reasons Shoes Wear Out Fast

Here are some common reasons shoes wear out fast.

1

Cheaply Made Shoes

Some cheap shoes are high-quality. Others use low-quality foam, low-quality outsoles and low-quality upper materials.

With the latter category, you’ll see signs of excessive wear early on.

2

The Wrong Surface

Race-day shoes have light, thin soles designed for race tracks. Indoor shoes are often made for smooth floors; not abrasive surfaces.

Wearing shoes like these on road or trail can make quick work of their soles.

Make sure you’re wearing the right shoe type for your surface. A road running shoe for concrete, a trail shoe for off-road, etc.

3

Wrong Support Type

Let’s say you supinate, i.e. roll your foot outward when you run. What happens if you buy a shoe made for overpronators?

The shoe will make your foot roll outward even more. The outside of your sole will wear out very quickly, decreasing the shoe’s lifespan.

This means you need the right support type. Neutral shoes for a neutral gait, supination support if you supinate, etc.

4

Running Style

Running style can impact a shoe’s lifespan in a few ways.

A heel striker will wear out the shoe’s heel quickly. Someone with a mid-foot strike will tend to wear out the outsole more evenly.

Barefoot running technique reduces shoe stress. A heavy running gait, on the other hand, can wear out a shoe quickly.

5

Mass

The more someone weighs, the more impact they put on their shoe.

A heavier runner will wear their sole out more quickly. A lighter runner will do the opposite.

6

Extreme Temperatures

Running on hot asphalt or storing shoes in hot environments, e.g. a steamy car trunk, can degrade rubber and foam. This can make a shoe wear out faster.

7

Wearing the Wrong-Size Shoes

If your shoes are too small, you might stretch and wear out the toe box or midfoot area quickly.

If shoes are too big, you may run with poor technique and wear out specific outer sole parts quickly.

In Conclusion

Running shoes can last as little as 250 miles or as much as 1,500 miles. Factors like running technique, shoe quality, storage temperatures and your weight are all a factor.

The main thing is replacing your shoes once they’re worn out. This will prevent running injury and improve long-term comfort.

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Writer:

George P.H.

Co-Writer:

Dr. Sergey Schepin

Last Updated:

April 30, 2022

George P.H.

George is the founder of Shoethority. He started testing and studying shoes after a series of sports injuries. He now shares his knowledge with Shoethority readers as a writer, tester and editor.