With so many different factors that go into determining how long a pair of running shoes last it is difficult to know when exactly it is necessary to replace them. I have heard every number from every six months to every 300 to 500 miles. And then I have read books that say you can run for hundreds of miles on a single pair of shoes if your feet are acclimated to less stability and cushioning. So what gives? When should I get a new pair of kicks?
There is good reason as to why criteria is spread all over for when shoes need to be replaced and that is because it is different for everyone. There is no magic number of months or miles where your shoes just fall apart when you go to put them on.
The amount of time you have had them is probably the worst way to decide when a pair of shoes needs retiring because the amount I run in six months is probably different from the amount you run in six months and it is definitely different than the amount Ryan Hall runs in six months. Instead, mileage is a better factor in determining when your shoes need replacement and 300 to 500 miles is the ideal range. For smaller runners who weigh less they can go for a bit longer on one pair and for heavier runners who weigh more they should look at the lower end of the spectrum. Another factor that determines when the best time is to replace shoes is treading wear. If you over pronate a lot and your shoes are showing wear on the tread it is definitely time for a new pair.
Yesterday, I realized what the single best factor is in determining when it is time to replace running shoes—when everything hurts. If you can feel the lack of support and cushioning in your shoes, that is the telltale sign you need a new pair. I went for a 17-mile run and felt the impact of the pavement on my feet and every joint in my body every step I took. With over eight months of training, three half-marathons and one marathon for probably close to 1000 miles on my shoes I guess I should take my own advice and go out and get a new pair. Clearly I know which shoes I like; now I just need to decide what color to get!
*Check out the shoe review in the April issue of Competitor magazine to help you find the best shoe for you.