Six Surefire Ways to Know It’s Time for New Running Shoes
Worn out, ill-fitting shoes can derail even the best running streak! Especially if you're gearing up for one of our ZOOMA races or challenges this fall!
“Running is the cheapest sport.”
“You don't need anything fancy for running.”
“Any type of athletic shoe is fine for running.”
As runners, we've all heard these things before. Perhaps most often from our non-running friends and family members. Some even may offer up unsolicited advice like, “Running is bad for your knees. You should stop.” They mean well, right?
But the truth is, taking up running–particularly competitive running–can become expensive pretty quickly. The last thing any reasonable runner wants to do is haphazardly rack up unnecessary running-related expenses, especially when there are considerations like race entry fees, running apparel and gadgets, and even Race-Cations.
As runners, we certainly don't need anything fancy for our running pursuits. Yet, footwear that’s well-suited to your foot, stride, and chosen running surface can help keep you injury-free and on the road (or trail!) for a long time to come.
So how do you know when it’s time to invest in a pair of new kicks? Check out these Six Surefire Ways to Know It’s Time for New Running Footwear:
Six Ways for Runners to Know It’s Time for New Shoes:
#1 Track the mileage on your shoes.
Shoe store clerks and shoe manufacturers will tell you the average pair of running shoes will last approximately 300-to-500 miles. A lot of runners prefer this method of tracking their shoes’ lifespan. It’s easy using a fitness tracker or smartphone, not a lot of guesswork, and you’re guaranteed some retail therapy every few months.
There are a few downsides to this method, however. First, 300 miles is not a lot of miles when it comes to quality footwear. Second, you have to be methodical and record every run and every mile on the shoes. It can kinda take the fun out of spontaneous runs. And third, if you rotate multiple pairs of shoes for different types of runs, it makes point number two even more arduous. So, take those numbers with a grain of salt.
#2 You start feeling aches and pains.
Contrary to popular belief, running should not cause arbitrary aches and pains. Feelings of being tired and sore? Yes. But aches and pains, no. Some runners defer to this method because they figure once pain or injury starts creeping in, they know it’s time for a new pair of shoes.
The con of using this method, though, is that sometimes a runner can become injured due to biomechanical issues or overtraining. Neither of these issues will be resolved by purchasing new shoes.
If you choose this method and you’re feeling injured or in pain, pay special attention to how you feel when you start running in your new shoes. If the pain goes away, it was probably the poor condition of your old shoes. If it’s persistent, you may want to talk to a coach, sports medicine physician, or physical therapist to explore what could be causing the issues.
#3 The traction is completely worn down.
Shoe traction that’s completely worn down is a surefire way to know it’s time to replace your running footwear.
One major flaw with this approach—once your shoes get to this point, you could already be wearing shoes that are way past their prime. Wearing years-old running shoes with little-to-no remaining support is not healthy for your feet and could lead to other problems. Running shoes in poor condition also could alter the way you run, including pronation or supination, which will be noticeable when you do purchase new shoes.
#4 There are holes in the upper and/or vamp.
If you’re a trail runner, you might take note of holes in the upper and/or vamp area of your shoe. While this isn’t inherently bad, this sometimes can be due to running on rough terrain (i.e., lots of burrs on your trails). However, it’s a good idea to keep a close eye on any holes to make sure they don’t become bigger.
#5 There are visible wear marks on the heel collar.
This is another issue that’s usually seen more often with trail runners – but it happens with road shoes, too. When you wear your shoes so often that you begin noticing wear marks on the heel collar (the part that goes by your heel near your Achilles), it might be time to consider replacing your shoes.
One caveat here, though – if you take off and put on your shoes without untying first, or you’re rough with your footwear in general, this is more likely to happen earlier on in a shoe’s life. Prolong the life of the shoe by fully untying your shoe after each run.
#6 You’re frankly just ready for some new color or pop on your runs!
New colorways are what drive a lot of people to purchase new shoes. And there’s no shame in that! Sometimes a runner just needs some inspiration on their feet to keep logging those miles.
If you’re unsure of how to tell when it’s time to invest in new running footwear, use these tips to help guide you. And when push comes to shove, treat yo’self from time to time!
Coach Rachel Frutkin is a Cleveland, Ohio based running coach. She holds certifications from USATF in Level 1 and Level 2 (Endurance, Sprints-Hurdles-Relays), in addition to USATF XC Specialist. She’s RRCA certified, and is an NASM Certified Personal Trainer. Rachel has been running since 2015 and has completed every race distance from 1-mile to 50K, and she enjoys working with people of all ages and abilities to reach their running and fitness goals.