Sponsored by Mizuno.
As a runner, what is your most valuable piece of equipment? Your GPS watch that tracks speed, route, and distance? The new outfit; shorts, pants, shirt, or hat? Maybe it’s your MP3 player, bluetooth headphones, or even heart rate monitor? While it is true that there are literally hundreds of products available to runners these days there’s one that everyone universally agrees is absolutely the most valuable. It’s where the literal rubber hits the literal road… two little items that will carry you wherever you desire whenever you want to get there… your shoes!!
A good pair of running shoes can carry you the distance quickly, comfortably, and injury free. However contrast that with an older pair that needs to be replaced. Support and stability suffers, cushioning gets wrecked, and (with time) injury can start to settle in. So the question is – how do we know when our running shoes need to be replaced? Do we do it when there are holes in the sole and wear through the upper support? Or is there a better way to figure it out? Today we’ll discuss five things you should look for to know when it is the right time to get to the running store and replace your kicks!
Before we get too far into this, it’s important to note that not all runners are created equal and therefore their shoes are going to wear differently. I could give the same pair of shoes to a trail runner, a heel-striker, a marathoner, a forefoot striker, and a weekend warrior and they would all wear differently. The bottom line is impact force. A heavier runner with an aggressive heel strike running on cement will wear shoes out a lot faster than a lighter runner who lands on his/her forefoot while running on a track. The following information is presented as a general guide; ultimately you’re the one who decides when new shoes are right for you! That being said, here are some tips to know when to replace your running shoes…
1. Track your miles – A good running shoe has been proven to last 300-500 miles before breakdown becomes sufficient enough to warrant replacement. This number is much less for minimalist shoes which typically have a lot less material underfoot (breakdown at 200-400 miles). Tracking distance is easy to do with a GPS watch, smart cell phone, or some other type of tracker that will keep a diary of your runs. Otherwise a simple note in your smart phone or even a “run log” can help you track your miles and know when it’s time to replace your kicks.
2. Signs of wear – If you’ve worn any holes in your shoes (not the soles – that’s going to be the last thing that breaks down) that’s a good indication that it’s time to retire them. You should be inspecting your shoes regularly and look for signs of wear. Are there any areas on top that are wearing out? What about the inside? Finally look at the soles. If they’ve lost all their tread and are smooth as silk on the bottom then that’s probably a good time to replace them.
3. Let pain be your guide – As a physical therapist I see a number of running-related injuries in my clinic. One topic that I discuss with every patient is footwear and specifically “when was the last time you changed your shoes”. I’ll oftentimes have patients bring their shoes in so I can look at them and frequently find they’re long past their prime. It’s amazing how quickly you can recover with the right combination of stretching, ice/anti-inflammatories, and a good shoe replacement.
4. Compare old to new – If you’re not too sure if it’s time to replace your shoes or not, I recommend taking a little test drive! Get into the running store and try on a new pair of shoes. If you can’t tell that much of a difference between the shoes you have now and the ones you’re trying on then most-likely they’re alright. If, however, you can notice a significant difference in comfort and support then it might be time to walk out of the store with those shoes.
5. Feel – really I can throw advice and statistics at you until we’re both exhausted. The bottom line is this – “How do your shoes feel this week?” If they still have a spring in their step and the comfort level is still there you should totally rock them for another week. If your answer is that they feel “sluggish”, “old”, “flat”, and “worn down”, then let’s send them lovingly into retirement and plan a trip to the running store!
Following these 5 tips can help determine when is the best time to replace your running shoes. Keep your shoes fresh to run longer, stronger, and free from injury!