If you’re at the point where you think you need to replace your running shoes, you’ve probably waited too long.
Pop quiz: How long does the average running shoe last?
Answer: Between 500 and 800km!
Why such a discrepancy? It depends on a few factors such as your running style and your weight and height, even the terrain and weather conditions you regularly run in can affect the lasting power of your shoes.
I get it — saying goodbye to your fave pair of running shoes is hard. It probably took a few months or even years to find a pair that’s perfect for you! But running in old running shoes can cause pain and injuries. Your running shoes should leave you feeling as good after the run as you did at the start.
A Quick Calculation
If you’re of average height and weight (let’s say around 165cm tall and 60kg) and you only run 10km per week, then you should look at replacing your running shoes every year.
If you run 20km to 30km a week (like me), then look at replacing your running shoes every 6 months.
And if you’re running an average of 50km per week, then you need to replace your shoes every 3 to 4 months.
Some Shoes Are Designed To Last Longer
Not that it’s in most brand’s interests to sell less shoes, but some new tech and design work means certain shoes are built to last longer, lasting an average of around 1000km, instead of 800km.
What if you’re like me and you have multiple running shoes? I have no idea how many kilometres are on my first pair of Nike Epic Reacts from last year Jan… But they still feel great and are in amazing condition. Plus I’ve been running in these new ones for about two months already… And I have about four other pairs in rotation. So, here’s a checklist for you to go through if you can’t keep track of your kms per shoe (also, join Strava and note your shoe use down with each run — it might help!).
1/ Does your upper resemble your foot?
Before you put your shoes on, look at the top part of the shoe, called the “upper”. Does the upper resemble your foot? This means the material has seriously worn in and is the first sign of “shoe death”. The material should still be able to bounce back.
2/ Is your sole cracking?
If the sole of your shoe has cracks or fissures (especially if they’re perpendicular to the tooling), then that’s another sign. Your shoes should still be giving you a bit of bounce when you run. If the bounce is gone then he shoes need to go too. Here’s how to test the bounce: hold your shoe just more than 10cm above a hard wooden surface and drop it. If the shoe rocks back and forth for more than half a second, that’s a sign the cushioning isn’t bouncing back like it should be.
3/ Lost The Spring In Your Step?
Time to trust your gut! You might not be able to see anything visually, but you will start to “feel” when your shoe has deteriorated. Over time, the material of the sole can harden from natural conditions (like running in the rain) and lose the springiness that helps cushion footfalls and protect knees. Poke and squeeze the sole. Is it hard where it was once bouncy and springy? This is a sign the material has aged and you should replace your running shoes.
4/ Is your sole smooth and worn?
Is your tread basically gone? Besides the risk of slipping, having a smooth sole means the shoes are compromised and will not give you what you need when you run. What’s tricky is that for some of us, the sole will only deteriorate in places depending on our running style. Don’t wait until the whole tread is gone!
5/ Are you experiencing pain or niggles?
Besides physical wear and tear on your shoes, start paying attention to how you feel when running and particularly after your run. If you’re sore in new places, particularly when it comes to feet, shins or your back, it could mean your running shoes need to be replaced.
Still unsure? You can ask a running coach or a trusted expert at your local store. I trust the guys at RUN Store in Cape Town.