When it comes to powering your runs, there's nothing quite like a solid pair of running shoes. Almost as important as choosing the right shoes? Replacing them at the right time.
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"The older I've gotten, the more I've realized how important new shoes are," says avid runner Blake Dircksen, DPT, a doctor of physical therapy at Bespoke Treatments in New York. "They are a good investment to keep you injury-free. I've had aches and pains pop up, and then I get a new pair of shoes — and it can make a major difference."
The catch: The "right time" to replace running shoes can differ from runner to runner, depending on your unique stride and how often you pound the pavement (or trail).
Here, experts weigh in on when to buy new running shoes, and offer up tips on how to make your pairs last longer.
Replace Your Shoes Every 300 Miles or 1 Year
How often should you replace running shoes? Many experts say every 300 to 500 miles, according to the American Council on Exercise.
But there are some instances in which the best time to replace your running shoes may have nothing to do with how many miles are on them.
For example, even if you don't run super frequently or for long distances and won't get up to 300 total miles on a pair of shoes for years on end, that doesn't mean you should hold onto them for that long.
"If you've been running once every other week and you've had the same shoe for a year or so, it's probably about time to look into a new pair," says Dircksen. "I'd say that when you're getting out there more regularly, like three or four times a week, that's when the mileage amounts may make more sense in terms of shoe replacement."
These days, running watches make it easier to keep track of the miles you're running, and some running apps like Strava let you specify what sneakers you're wearing during your runs. So if you've got the tools, putting them to use can help you make sure your shoes are always ready to rock.
3 Signs You Should Replace Your Running Shoes
Not everyone has the tech (or even desire) to log their miles. And that's cool, too. So, what are some other indications it's time to get new kicks? Let's take a look:
1. The Sole Is Wearing Thin in Spots
If your shoes are starting to have a decent amount of wear on the tread, you're likely due for a new pair, says Dircksen. These tread patterns will also mark the way that you strike the ground with your foot, which can give you a good amount of information about your gait cycle, too.
"This can be super helpful if you're experiencing anything that feels off or injury," says Dircksen. "Showing a physical therapist your sneakers can give them some insight into how your body is working on the run. Maybe you're pronating or supinating, or heel striking."
Don't just look at the forefoot. The heel cup is a great place to check out intense wear. When it's past its prime, you'll notice pilling and even holes in the inside heel of the shoe.
2. You Have Frequent Aches and Pains
There are plenty of reasons you could feel a little off during your runs. But if you've been wearing the same shoes for a while and are noticing discomfort and aches while running, it's worth seeing if a new pair will help you get back to comfort.
"If I find myself feeling fatigued faster, more often than not that's a solid reminder that it's time for a new pair of shoes," says Dircksen.
3. Your Shoes Have Lost Their Bounce
With a variety of different styles on the market, shoes these days come with different stack heights, drops, and support styles. Regardless of how plush your pick may be, each sneaker will have a certain feel at first wear. As expected, that feel will shift over time.
"Once you buy that new pair of shoes, you can feel the freshness of the shoes," says Dircksen. "After a while, you'll feel that the pop and spring goes away. When the shoe starts to break down, form can get sloppy, which can lead to injury."
Time to buy new running shoes? Check out these expert-approved pairs:
How to Make Your Shoes Last Longer
The best way to lengthen the life of your shoes is to rotate through a few different pairs at once. While it may be tempting to pick one comfortable shoe and buy a few different pairs, that's not the goal here, says Dircksen. Instead, lean into different styles for different workouts.
"Think of getting one for base mileage and easy recovery days, one for your faster track or interval workouts, and perhaps another style for super long run. Each one of these styles will have different variables to stress the body differently, but also help you perform better in that particular workout — which will help you avoid overuse injuries."