Running Shoe Life


I’ve been getting a bunch of “Hey Coach, do you think I need new shoes?” lately.

“Let me see.”

(runner presents the bottom of the shoe for inspection, the tread is paper thin and the foam is flat)

“Holy mother of God! Go buy new shoes!”

My running peeps, you gotta keep an eye on the wear on your shoes.  A quick internet search will result in a rule of thumb that says shoes need to be replaced every 300-500 miles.  I think that number is highly optimistic for many people.  The type of shoe, types of foam, stack height, runner’s stride type, runner’s weight, terrain run and many other factors will affect how long a shoe lasts.

Tired Talaria

Here’s my previous two pairs of shoes:

The pair on the left has 71 runs, and 294 miles.  The pair on the right has 72 runs and 286 miles (how do I know that exactly? More on that in a second).

What we can see from these shoes is that I am a forefoot runner, and that much of my foot strike energy is in the outside edge of the ball of my foot, since that’s where the majority of the wear is.  This running nerd is fascinated with how identical these shoes wore over their combined 600 miles.  My stride, and this shoe, are very consistent.

I retired these shoes when I could feel increased impact in my foot strike.  Here’s why:

As you can see, the rubber has worn completely down, and the foam is pressed flat with the remaining rubber.  The compressed foam isn’t absorbing the energy it was when it was new, and the result was that I could feel it.  These shoes didn’t last to the “minimum” 300 miles, but I’m actually very happy with their longevity because my forefoot strike increases the wear locally on these shoes.  Previous generations of this shoe didn’t make it to 200 miles for me.

Every runner and shoe is different, your results will vary.

You may feel a deteriorating shoe as a new ache in your joints that wasn’t there before, maybe a hardness in the bottom of the shoe, or a myriad other symptoms.  This can happen quickly, especially if you are doing lots of training miles, the wear starts to add up quickly.

I recommend keeping a shoe log, so you have some idea how many miles are on your shoes.  If you wear a Garmin, this is super easy if you use the Gear function in Garmin Connect.  This can be set up so that that Garmin Connect automatically adds miles to the shoe and it shows you how many miles are accumulated on the shoe right on the activity page.  You can also set the maximum mileage for the shoe, so you have an easy visual of how much life remains. This is also good for predicting how much life a shoe might have on it on race day.

As you can see from this screen shot, I’ve had my current shoes for a month and I’m already almost halfway through what I think is a maximum lifespan for these shoes.  Marathon training packs on the miles, and I’m probably going to need a new pair in a month.  It also illustrates how fast worn out shoes can sneak up on you.

If you think your shoes are worn out, they probably are.

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