When Do You Replace Your Running Shoes? – Part A

How often should we replace our running shoes? Worn out shoes increase the risk of injury. While most running shoes will last for  300-500 miles, each runner should make their own assessment as to whether they should keep or replace their shoes. Stability, cushioning, and shock absorption, as well as they way our foot strikes the ground, will determine our decision.

We asked several runners, when they would retire a running shoe, and here are their responses:

Aaron Burke of the minO, Massachusetts: The minO shoe wear sensor automatically tracks the use of your running shoe and shows you when to replace them based on the suggested life of the shoe. I suffered a stress fracture from outrunning my shoes 3 years ago while training for the Lowell 1/2 marathon. To track the use of my shoe, I invented the minO which goes under your sock liner and counts the number of times and the intensity you strike on the shoe. A progressive set of lights show you how close you are to the recommended end-of-life for your shoe. It is like a toothbrush’s blue wear strip for your running shoe.

Check it out and let me know if the minO can make sure you Don’t Outrun Your Shoes! http://www.runmino.com/buying-your-mino/


Corey W., Vancouver, BC, Canada: I run with New Balance shoes, I find them to be the best quality and performance. I am a fairly moderate runner, and range from trail to city running. Generally when I’m in store the staff recommends me to upgrade my shoe every 6 to 12 months (it depends upon the shoe, your weight and the surface you’re running on).

Surprisingly with the New Balance Minimus ( http://www.newbalancevancouver.ca/minimus-10-trail-running.html ) and the ( http://www.newbalancevancouver.ca/1080.html ) 1080 being completely different shoes with different levels of cushioning, you would think that the less cushioned shoe would wear out faster, but because your foot strikes the ground at a different place the shoes have a very similar longevity.

Dr. DA, New York: I use my sneakers until I notice the sole is wearing down, and thus the cushion is lost. Loss of cushioning leads to increased direct impact/shock on the foot, especially the heels which can cause an injury like heel spurs.

Suzanne, Edinboro, PA: I know what happens when they wear unevenly, as everyone’s do, you get tendonitis like I did. When the heels are uneven get rid of them!

Smithaca, Ithaca: My suggestion: replace the shoes as soon as you find one with “Made in the USA” on the box or label.

Fred, Setauket NY: I retire my shoes when my toes come through the tops, and the lining on the heel erodes away. Takes about 600 miles/6 months.

Dr. J, Gainesville, Fl: I’ve run over 100,000 miles. I replace my shoes when they get holes in the body of the shoe.

Bev, New York: I walk..and wearing different shoes affects different areas of my body – it’s not so much about the feet as it is the knee, hip. I have some shoes that cause no knee or hip or foot problems. Other shoes, some proper running shoes make one knee, or the other…or sometimes the lower back hurt. So for me it’s not about the feet.

Tyler, Chicago: I walked all the way across the United States in 2011. Over 3200 miles, I went about 1000 miles in a single pair of sandals. I ran about 500 miles of the trip. I think running shoes are overrated.

Matt, NY, NY: I use them until they either have no more traction or they fall apart.

Nate, Brooklyn: The article title is misleading. “When to Retire a Running Shoe” makes the reader expect a clear answer. Instead, the author concludes “no one really knows.” What a let down.

Dave, NJ: Some people may have a thicker natural amount of padding on the soles of their feet making them less vulnerable to injury and trauma therefore could wear worn shoes safely. I would guess most heavy users pull the trigger too quick and change shoes frequently.

Takis, NJ: I write in pen on the heel the date of first use…then I go ~ 200 -250 miles from there

Tinah, Idaho: Ask Nate Silver!

Paul Kramer, Poconos: In the early ’80’s I weighed 160 lbs. and ran 25 miles a week and 10K’s in under 40 minutes. I could almost instantly tell when my one of my dozens of pairs of Nike Internationalist no longer had bounce or cushion; i.e., it seemed to be a black/white thing as opposed to gradual. Now I’m 200 lbs., exercise every day but only jog (shuffle?) once or twice a week. My 5K’s take over 30 minutes. I no longer have a “feel” for when a shoe is worn and hence have three or four pairs (I’m wealthier) of Asics lying around which I pick at random. I’ve come to no conclusions though these observation may feed the survey folk. Replies from other runners requested.

Catherine, Mission Viejo: Runners get injuried because they don’t have a leg strengthening and stretching routine. They also fail to eat properly. Running is a sport. Like any sport, the body must be conditioned, trained, and properly feed. Most people just want to run. When I talk to people about conditioning they always say they don’t have the time. Then they tell me about their injuries.

Danielle, Chicago: I think it’s personal. I use lightweight shoes and I got injured (IT band problems,  ankle issues) with each pair of shoes that went over 250 miles, so that’s when I change them now (and I’ve been injury-free for a while now!). I think most runners who have been at it awhile have a sense of when they need to change shoes – they don’t really need a study to tell them.

David Holzman, Lexington Massachusetts: I ran a pair of New Balance from around 1998 to 2008, probably around 7,000 miles. My weight probably averaged in the high 140s during that time.

Sal, Rural Northern CA: My ex-partner was a runner and we had the same shoe size. I am not a runner, but I always had nice “new” running shoes to kick around in as they were replaced for new ones.

Just to add to the info here, she replaced them when she began to sense minor aches and pains in hips or knees.

George Dyck, Arizona: After 40 years of running about 600 miles a year I have settled on replacing my shoes every year on November 1, even when my wife objects to my extravagance! At age 75 I have never had the experience of being laid up by foot, knee or hip injury. The key is the footfall, and that is why running on dirt is not the best. You need an even surface so that the force of every footfall can be measured and controlled.

Pooja, Skillman: George, I salute you on your success and longevity in your running career! Unfortunately for me, injuries forced me to retire from running and now I walk regularly for exercise. You have found the key to keeping yourself running and injury-free. I guess it is a personal thing for every runner, and he/she needs to learn when it is time to change their shoes.

Morningsider, NYC: When is it time to retire a running shoe? Right before you take it out of the box.

Gus, Arizona: When you see a really great new pair of shoes then it’s time to replace the old ones. That should be often enough for a normal person.

Deranieri, San Diego: After a year. Unless I run the Camp Pendleton Mud Run before the year is up. In which case I pitch them as soon as I complete the run.

Wayne, Brooklyn: What is this ‘bounce’, ‘spring’ and ‘boing’ you all speak of? 155 pounds of flesh hitting into pavement never feels like any of that and I’m ‘light footed. I run about 30-40+ miles a week now, increasing gradually over the last two years. I wear light shoes as well. New Balance MR 1400’s and love them. I am a fore foot striker after months of injury with mid-foot and heal to toe I then trained to run fore foot and haven’t looked back.

I feel like the shoe does little to prevent or cause injury. Lacing has defiantely impacted my performance and led to injury, so I guess the shoe design could contribute to injury, but the age, I’m skeptical.

I’m at 600+ miles now on this pair, I run trails sometimes, but usually asphalt. I’ve noticed that more often than not any personal injury comes out of bad form coupled with overtraining and or lack of rest. My worst injury was from bad lacing and bad form and too many miles.

Would love to participate in a study and see some real scientific study come to fruition here. Hopefully, not funded by shoe companies.

GeriMD, California: What about when to retire shoes used solely (sorry) for low-impact cardio? I have a pair that I use exclusively at the gym, so, they look like they are in good shape. Is there a limit to their lifespan?

Clara, Third Rock:  Retire them when the grip is gone and they’ve become slippery.

IggyDalrymple, Arkansas: I say retire them before running. I prefer barefoot.

Jaque, Champaign, Illinois: My shoes never, never wear out on the bottoms. Which means, they start fraying on the top. I continue to use them as long as I can keep my foot inside! I have frayed shoes that show most of my socks but have no impact on running on trails. Don’t waste money (and environment), keep using your shoes as long as you can keep your feet inside!

Ryan, Tucson, AZ: As for me, I my practice has been to keep track of the miles I run with each pair and replace them after 300 miles.

David Smith, Colchester, Essex, UK: When you can jump higher in your new shoes.

Claire, Brooklyn, NY 19: I keep track of the mileage on my shoes, and retire them at about 500 miles; however I also replace the insole about halfway through. Seems to work OK. My only complaint is that the shoe companies keep changing their models so often, I would rather stay with a design I like forever instead of having to figure it out all over again every couple of years.

Continue to “When do you Replace Your Running Shoes – Part B