How long do running shoes last?

As a runner with over a decade of experience how frustrating it can be to see the first signs of wear on running shoes that looked so perfect just weeks earlier. It is never nice to see your new running shoes get worn out but it is even worse to be unsure about how to handle it.

Knowing when it is time to move on is very important so you can continue to run while getting the support you deserve from your shoes. Old shoes don’t provide enough support but that begs the question of how long do running shoes last and how can you extend the life of your shoes?

Why does knowing this even matter

In this modern world running shoes are very important and if an old pair of shoes does not have any structural integrity left then there will be reduced shock absorption and maybe even new pains to add to this list of day to day struggle.

If you are able to take active steps to prolong the life of your shoes and then when the time comes recognise when the shoes are done you will be able to stay injury free and happy.

Parts of the Shoe to watch for wear and tear

Photo of Woman Wearing Pair of Black Nike Running Shoes

Mesh Upper

The Upper part of the shoe is responsible for keeping your foot in place and is meant to provide proper support do your foot can stay in place. A good quality mesh upper can make or break a shoe so there is a reason that shoe companies put a lot of effort into ensuring they are durable.

Having said that just like anything it will wear out eventually so it is important to spot the signs of a worn upper.

Hole where the big toe lies is a very common one and doesn’t have a huge effect on the rest of the shoe as long as it is not too bad. As a general rule though if the upper of the shoe is worn it is a sign that the rest of the shoe is finished as well.

Foam

On most modern running shoes there is a layer of foam on the bottom which provided cushioning and allows for extra bounce in a runners stride. In my opinion the foam is the most important part of the shoe but it can loose its bounce very quickly.

Over time the foam becomes compresses and this means it is not doing the desired job to a high enough standard which could lead to problems for your running. To check the foam you can just push on it but more importantly get a feel for it when you are running.

Treads

The treads are located on the bottle outsole of the shoe and allow you to grip the ground beneath your feet The grooves on the bottom of the shoe are the treads and they are meant to provide friction which allows you to grip the ground beneath your feet.

Just like with the other components of a running shoes these treads can loose their grip after some heavy mileage. This is bound to happen and when it does the bottom of the shoe will be smooth to the point of not providing any grip.

Laces

I know it might not be the first thing you think of when it comes to the lifespan of a shoe but laces can get frayed and worn just like the rest of the shoe.

Shoe laces are very easy to replace and spotting issues with them is incredibly easy so there is not much to worry about here. Having good laces is essential for the fit of the shoe.

How to prolong the life of running shoes

A Man with a Wristwatch

Prolonging the life of your running shoes is easy but only if you take care of them consistently. One of the first things you can do is undo and redo the laces on them every time or take them off or put them on. Constantly sliding them on and off will greatly damage the structure of them while.

Clean them

On this site we have coved cleaning running shoes a lot so if you want more detail on that you can go check out any of our three posts on the topic.

To quickly summarise you need to use soapy water and go slowly and carefully. It is not an amusing task but it is just one of those errands that will pay of in the long run.

Store them correctly

It goes without saying but if you take the shoes off and then throw them to the back of your dirty and messy shoe cupboard the structure of the shoe will not last as long as it could. Store them in a clean dry place and make sure nothing is directly on top of them.

Use them for only running

if you have spent a lot of money on a pair of running shoes then it is wise to use them for running and nothing else. If you have a favourite pair of shoes that is great but that doesn’t mean you have to wear them for yard work or even walking around.

In fact if you use them for day to day activities most of the wear will come from that instead of actually running which I think is the wrong way to use your best running shoes and is actually a little bit of a shame.

So how long do running shoes last?

The answer to this question is entirely dependent on factors such as weight, shoe rotation, running style, foot strike, running gait and rough terrain. It is not somthing I will be able to answer outright here but a vague number would be 500km-800km.

Of coarse you have the power to extend or decease that number as well as decide if that distance will even be spent running.

What to do with old running shoes?

As part of my work on the Scottish athletics advisory board we are working to make kit more accessible so people from all backgrounds can get the kit they need. I have seen first hand the impact that not having the correct running shoes can have so if you are in a position to make sure you consider donating to your clubs shoe back. That is assuming you go to a running club though.

These kit banks can make a huge difference to other athletes in your club and your small act of kindness will go far. I know we strayed slightly off topic there but I felt like it was worth saying.

Conclusion

To conclude running shoes that are too old can give your blisters, unexplained aches and even stiffness. It is somthing that you will want to avoid and there are ways to keep your shoes fresh for hundreds of kilometres. Make sure that your next pair of shoes is well cared for and that you either start or continue to take care of the current shoes you own.

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