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When Should You Retire Running Shoes?

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If you’ve stuck with running consistently over a year’s worth of time, you’ve probably packed on some miles. If you run roughly 10 miles a week then this would translate into about 40 miles per month. 

If you calculate this out, you’re looking at about 520 miles in one year. When you start to stack up the mileage on your running shoes, it’s time to consider replacing your running shoes.

So when should you retire your running shoes?

The golden rule is to retire running shoes somewhere between 300 and 400 miles. However, this isn’t always the case, just a guideline. 

For a more accurate way of determining when to retire your running shoes, you need to use your weight in pounds or kilograms. According to OrthoInfo, the more you weigh the more friction will play a roll on wear and tear of your shoes upon ground surface impact.

This puzzled me for quite sometime before I ran across the information presented on OrthoInfo. I’m a 6 foot 3-inch tall runner that purchased a pair of Nike Free RNs. I ran across a friend of mine who was 5 foot 2 inches tall and weighed almost 100 pounds lighter than me. He wore the same shoe as me and told me that his shoes lasted almost 600 miles. My shoes, on the other hand, didn’t last more than about 400 miles until they were toast. Your weight truly does make a difference in how fast your shoe wears down, especially during impact sports such as running.

Check the table below using your weight in pounds or kilograms to determine the mileage of when you should retire your running shoes:

When to retire running shoes based on your weight

The data was compiled based on the information found on OrthoInfo, contributed and updated by
Brian M. Weatherford, MD and Catherine K. Irwin, PT, MHS, OCS.
While this is a good guideline to adhere to, you still want to inspect the shoe for wear and tear as this might be a better indicator of when to replace your shoes.
poundskilogramsmileage
12557600
13059577
13561556
14064536
14566517
15068500
15570484
16073469
16575455
17077441
17579429
18082417
18584405
19086395
19588385
20091375
20593366
21095357
21598349
220100341
225102333
230104326
235107319
240109313
245111306
250113300
255116294
260118288
265120283
270122278
275125273
280127268
285129263
290132259
295134254
305138246
310141242
315143238
320145234
325147231
330150227
335152224
340154221
345156217
350159214
355161211
360163208
365166205
370168203
375170200
380172197
385175195
390177192
395179190
400181188

Tracking Your Shoe Mileage

The easiest way to know when it’s about time to retire your shoes is to track your mileage. The Garmin Connect app allows you to enter your running gear and use it for specifically logged activities such as running. Two ways you can track the mileage of your shoes are:

  1. Garmin Connect
    When should you retire your running shoes - Garmin Connect

    Garmin Connect App – Gear Tracker

  2. Write down the day you bought your shoes and try to track your weekly mileage. Write it down in a journal, calendar, or use an app like Google Keep or Evernote.

What if I haven’t been tracking my shoe mileage?

If you didn’t accurately track your shoe mileage, and most new runners don’t, there are several other ways to tell if you need new running shoes. Here are several things to physically look out for when determining if it’s time to retire your running shoes:

Holes in your tread or shoes

This is one of the easiest things to spot – a hole in your shoe. You’ll definitely need to replace your running shoes ASAP.

Your tread is almost gone

When you first buy your shoes it’s a good idea to take a picture of the bottom of your shoe. When you want to know what exact tread has been eroded, for example after 300 miles, you simply take a picture of your current running shoe and compare it to when it was a new shoe. If you see major wear patterns on several spots on the shoe, it’s probably time to go ahead and purchase some new running shoes.

When-should-you-retire-your-running-shoesShock Absorption is gone

Pay close attention to your impact. If you start feeling pain with every stride it’s time to consider a new pair of running shoes.

Going on the feeling alone

Advantages

  • You might be able to conserve your shoes a little bit longer
  • You’re spending less money

Disadvantages

  • If you wait too long to retire your shoes it’s possible that you could start running differently because the feel of your shoe is less cushiony causing you to compensate in ways that aren’t naturally aligned with your running gait. 

Your shoes start feeling too loose

Right when your shoe starts to feel comfortable – it’s almost time to retire the shoe. First of all your shoes should NEVER hurt your feet when you run in them. You might get a slight “wearing in” feeling when your shoes are brand new and they feel a little stiff.

The comfort of the shoe always throws me off that’s why I track the mileage of my running shoes. About 50 miles before retirement of a particular pair of shoes, I go ahead and purchase my new shoes to slowly start to wear them in while slowly phasing out my older shoes. A great place to purchase your shoes is Road Runner Sports where I purchase all of my shoes. They have a great return policy!

When-should-you-retire-your-running-shoes

You can see how the shoe (on the left) is starting to look loose around the collar and the front of the toes are stretched out

Your shoes twist way too easily

If you can physically twist your new shoe with little or no effort, the integrity of your shoe is out the window. When you purchase your new pair of shoes try to twist the shoe. You will immediately tell the difference and see that new shoes are much harder to twist out of their formed shape.

When you run it’s painful

If the pain is on both sides it could be an indication that your cushion is gone and it’s time to retire your shoes. Anytime you feel pain when running you need to stop and assess what’s going on. Catching running injuries early or shoe issues will help prevent longer-term running injuries from being sustained.

They no longer sit in the factory conditioned state.

In other words, they sag or droop to one side or the other and no longer sit upright and stiff. Also, look to see if your shoe can lie flat on the ground if it can’t the shoe needs to be replaced.

When Should You Retire Running Shoes - pin

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Where you run makes a difference

The treadmill is going to cause the tread of your running shoe to wear the least.  The grass will come next close behind the treadmill. The track will follow grass in its tendency to wear your shoes tread down.

Trail running sits in the middle of the treadwear scale. Trails, in particular, can be rough on your tread wear as well, however, if you’re running technical terrain (rocks, tree roots, steep inclines) then you should have a second pair of trail running shoes. This will spare your road running shoes taxing tread.

If your trail running is mostly flat and lacks obstacles then your road running shoes should be just fine. For more about trail running check out – Trail Running for beginners – 8 things to know before you go!

The two surfaces that are the roughest on your shoe’s tread are asphalt and then concrete being the tread eating monster.

So if you’re wanting to save some extra tread by only running on a treadmill just remember that if you’re training for a race you need to run about 60% of your runs on the same surface as your actual race. This leads you with two options you need to do most of your running on the trail or on the road.

The only deviation from this is when you’re running a virtual race. In this case, you can run on a treadmill because you can also run your virtual race on a treadmill.

Not all shoes are the same

If you look at the image below you can see that both shoes have tread loss signaling the need to replace the shoes.

The picture on the left is from my Nike Free RN 2017s. The shoe in the middle is from my Brooks Ghost 11 2019s.  The Nike shoes had 412 miles on them when I retired the shoes. My Ghosts had 625 miles on them when I retired the shoes.  I got an extra 200 miles out of my Brooks shoes.

When Should You Retire Your Running Shoes

Nike Free RN (left), Brooks Ghost 11 (middle), Brooks Ghost 12 (right)

 

How to care for your shoes

  • Do not dry your shoes in a tumble dryer
  • Instead air dry them. If you need them dried faster try placing a small portable fan facing them.
  • Don’t wear your shoes for anything but running. I’m guilty of this one for my first pair of good running shoes. The next pair of running shoes I purchased I took them off as soon as I completed my run.
  • Lysol your shoes out after your runs. The Lysol will kill any bacteria in the shoes. 
  • When your shoes get wet air dry them or sit them in front of a fan. Once they’re dry its time to Lysol them out as well

Other useful tips about running shoes

  • Don’t ever run a race in brand new shoes. Your shoes need at least 30+ miles logged on them before racing. The longer the race the more miles that should be logged on your new shoes prior to racing.

You might consider purchasing two pairs of shoes at the same time

Some runners believe that if you have two pairs of running shoes and you alternate between the two shoes, your body doesn’t get used to just one type of shoe. Also, the second pair of a different type of running shoe might also help your leg’s neromusclar tissues because the two different types of shoes won’t work your legs muscles exactly the same way.  

When should you retire your running shoes

Brooks Ghost 11 (left) – Brooks Ghost 12 (right)

 

Coach Scott is a published author and RRCA certified running coach (Level 2). He has published over 20 books including, Beginner's Guide to Half Marathons: A Simple Step-By-Step Solution to Get You to the Finish Line in 12 Weeks! (Beginner To Finisher Book 3), which has become an Amazon International #1 bestseller. Scott specializes in helping new runners become injury-free race finishers. He recently completed his 13th half marathon race. 

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