Getting the best results from of your running routine isn’t just about deciding on a regimen and sticking with it, no matter what. Not only do you need excellent footwear designed with running in mind, but it needs to remain in good condition to keep you healthy and safe on the road.
Over time, even the best running shoes will lose their ability to cushion, stabilize, and support your body as you run. Understanding when to replace yours and doing so promptly is an important part of any fitness-focused lifestyle. The following are all sure indicators that it might be time to treat yourself to a new pair of kicks sooner rather than later.
1. They’ve covered a lot of mileage.
Naturally, how long you can expect a running shoe to last depends on several variables. For instance, people who weigh more or like to run outdoors over rough terrain can expect to replace their shoes sooner than very petite people who just like to jog on the treadmill at the gym. However, mileage is a factor everyone should consider.
Most running shoes can be expected to last between 300 and 500 miles. Some people will hit that threshold within 4-6 months or less. For others, that could take years. You can take the guesswork out of tracking your own mileage with a handy log. Alternatively, you can write the date of purchase inside your shoe somewhere with a permanent marker so you’re always aware of it.
2. They leave you in a lot of pain.
Yes, experiencing some discomfort and fatigue is normal when it comes to running. It can be a sign that you’re continuing to push yourself and make progress the way that you should. However, it should also be extremely temporary. You shouldn’t ever be suffering from persistent muscle fatigue or intense pain in your joints.
Shin splints, lasting muscle fatigue, or joint pain (especially in the knees) are signs that the cushioning in your running shoes may be breaking down. Aches and pains that you feel on both sides of the body are an even clearer indicator that it’s time to refresh your gear.
3. Their tread is non-existent or nearly so.
One of the surest signs your running shoes are probably overdue for an upgrade is if the tread is seriously worn out. To begin with, the tread is critical when it comes to keeping your footing when you’re out there pounding the pavement. Also, the soles of a pair of running shoes or cross-trainers typically far outlast their shock absorbency and ability to adequately cushion your feet.
If the tread’s gone (or going), it’s definitely time to retire your shoes. You don’t necessarily have to throw them out altogether, though, especially if they’re still relatively comfortable. Just wear them for doing housework or working in the yard instead of running.
4. They’re starting to get lopsided.
It’s easy to see when the tread on your shoes is shot. Shock absorbency, on the other hand, is a little trickier. The midsole is the part of a running shoe that gives it that pleasant, familiar spring you feel with every step. Eventually, it will deteriorate with wear just like every other part of the shoe, but not being able to lay eyes on it can make it harder to know when that’s happening.
Check the integrity of your midsoles once in a while by placing them on a flat, level surface and giving them a good hard look. Are they lopsided? If so, that’s a pretty good indication that your midsoles are depleted. Another way to test the shock absorbent structure of a shoe is to try to bend it. A running shoe that’s extremely flexible and can be folded in half like a slice of bread definitely isn’t offering sufficient support anymore.
5. They cover tough terrain on a regular basis.
If you’re a trail runner, then it goes pretty much without saying that your shoes are going to see a lot more wear and tear than average. Just make sure you know the difference between superficial damage and serious wear that indicates that it’s time to replace your shoes. For instance, a few tiny additional holes in your mesh probably aren’t anything to worry about, but uppers that are practically falling apart are a deal-breaker.
It’s also important to know that running on trails or under conditions that expose your shoes to the elements more often will eventually make your shoes wear out more quickly. You can extend the life of your shoes by caring for them properly after each run. You should be taking measures to help them dry quickly if they get wet, as well as promptly cleaning off any mud, dirt, or debris. If you haven’t been doing regular maintenance on your trail runners, it’s probably better to replace them and start fresh.
6. They’re your only pair and you use them every day.
The only way you can get away with owning only one pair of running shoes is if you don’t run or work out with any regularity. People who run more than three times a week need at least two pairs if they expect them to last as long as they should.
Running shoes and cross-trainers need at least a day or two each week when they’re not in use. This allows the shock absorbent midsoles to decompress and return to their usual shape, the better to protect your joints, feet, and legs during each workout. Your shoes will last longer when they’re rotated with at least one other pair. Also, since no two pairs of shoes are exactly alike, each will work your muscles a bit differently. You’ll get more out of your workout and be much less likely to overstress any one group of tissues.
All things considered, your workout is really only going to be as good as the gear you trust to see you through it. That includes your footwear. Get informed today and get more out of the workouts you love!