Running shoes are meant to be comfortable and durable, but they can only last so long. If you’re a runner who hits the treadmill, the running track, or the pavement hard every day, chances are good your shoes will wear out far more quickly than those who just wear running shoes casually. Here are a few signs that your shoes are worn out and it’s time to get a new pair:
No More Shock Absorption
Most running shoes are made to provide some shock absorption, reducing the stress placed on your joints with every step. They may initially have had gel packs or air pockets inserted into the heels, but that cushioning will wear out over time. Many shoes also include special cushioning foam in the midsole of the shoe, and a worn pair of running shoes will usually have lost the springy feeling that you got the first time you put the shoes on.
It’s hard to tell if the shock absorption is gone, so put your shoes on a flat table and look carefully at them. If the shoes aren’t flat on the table and even, the midsole foam is worn down to the point that you need to change the shoes. Bonus: Shoes that bend too easily are also worn down.
Every time you take a step, you scuff up the tread a little bit more. Running on the street wears out your tread far faster than running on a treadmill, but either way running wears down the grooves in your shoes that give you good grip and traction. Over time, the rubber grip will look like bald tires. If your outsole looks white and there is no more grip, it’s probably time to replace the running shoes.
Note: If only PART of the grip is worn down, it may be a sign that you are running wrong.
They Are Old
A pair of running shoes is built to last for about 6 months of daily use–5 or 6 workouts per week. Casual runners (less than 30 minutes per day, or 3 hours per week) can probably get away with wearing the shoes for a bit longer, particularly if they are running on a treadmill.
Here’s a good rule of thumb to keep in mind: good sneakers will last up to 500 miles, but cheaper ones will only last 300 miles. Consider how much you run every day, add that total up to the distance you run each month, and calculate when it’s time to replace those shoes.
You Only Have the Pair
If you run, walk, stroll, and drive in the same pair of shoes, you’re going to wear them out far faster than you should. A good pair of running shoes should be used ONLY for running (and working out at the gym before your run, of course). If you have only one pair of shoes that is used for everything, they are going to wear out much faster.
This is because shoes need a break, which allows the foam in the midsole to return to its normal shape. You compress the foam with each step, and it takes a while for the foam to decompress. If you’re not going to run (such as on Leg Day), give your running shoes a break.
You Run Hardcore
If you cover A LOT of distance with each run, you pound asphalt every day, or you take your shoes over serious terrain, your shoes are going to wear out much faster. The shoe’s upper will begin to fall apart, and you’ll see holes in the mesh. That’s when you know it’s time for a new pair of shoes!