“Where the rubber meets the road” is an excellent way to remind you that your running shoes are probably your most critical piece of running gear.
You may know that getting your running shoes from a specialty store – where you can find running-shoe experts – is ideal. But you also should know when to replace your running shoes. Here are five ways to tell that it is time to replace them.
The popular rule of thumb about shoe mileage is that you should replace your running shoes after 250 to 500 miles. There are a few ways that you can know or estimate this cumulative mileage.
- Keep a running journal in which you diligently record your mileage after each run, and record the accumulated mileage as you progress through your runs.
- Record your daily mileage in a spreadsheet that has a “SUM” formula in one of the spreadsheet cells.
- Upload your GPS wrist unit’s data after every run to an online account that offers an auto-summing feature.
- Identify the average total distance that you run each week, and divide that total into 250 to 500 miles to determine how many weeks you should wear a pair of running shoes.
- If you are in a training program for a group of runners, then note the accumulated mileage on a printout of the training season’s schedule. This is indeed the best way to track accumulated mileage because you can also use the schedule to predict by what date you should replace your shoes, which lets you budget and buy accordingly.
The popular rule of thumb about shoe age is that you should replace your running shoes after you have had them for six months. At first glance, this might seem self-serving to shoe makers. If you use car-tire replacement recommendations as your guide as to when to replace your running shoes, then you are failing to appreciate that the materials in running shoes deteriorate much faster than do car tires. Even if your shoes sit in your closet most of the time, the materials in your running shoes are slowly but surely losing their ability to support and protect your feet. Another aging factor is your perspiration rate. If your feet tend to sweat profusely, then you are aging your shoes faster – because sweat can break down your shoe materials.
If you see uneven wear on the soles of your running shoes, then you should see a shoe expert immediately and get a different pair of shoes. If you see even but substantive wear on the soles of your running shoes, even if the shoes are “young” and have low mileage, then it is time to replace them. That even but substantive wear could be due to a manufacturing defect or could be due to where you run versus where the manufacturer expected its shoes to be worn. No matter the cause of that wear, it is time to replace your shoes.
If you have accidentally run on hot tar, then it is time to replace your running shoes. If you have accidently run on wet concrete and were unable to rinse off the concrete before it dried, then it is time to replace your shoes. If you have stepped on a sharp object that cut the sole of one of your shoes, then appreciate the protection that your shoes provided but also appreciate that it is time to replace them. And if you have been drying your shoes with a clothes dryer, then vow not to do that again but also make sure that you replace those shoes; dryer heat destroys shoes!
Even if your running shoes have low mileage, were bought only recently, show no wear, and have not been abused, they probably should be replaced in the event that they are causing you pain – in your feet, ankles, knees, or elsewhere . I say “probably” because the shoes might be fine but you need orthotics. If a podiatrist or other health-care professional determinates that you do not need orthotics, then the pain that you are feeling with your current pair of running shoes is a strong sign that you have the wrong shoes and that they should be replaced.
There you have it: five ways to tell that it is time to replace your running shoes!