Ask Coach Julia: When should I replace my running shoes?

When should I replace my running shoes?

Today’s question is a follow-up from Donalda in Germany…

“How do I know when I need a new pair of running shoes? It occurred to me today during my run that I’ve had mine for awhile. They still look okay, but then I don’t go running through mud, so they tend to always look fine. Maybe ‘when falling apart’ it’s too late…”

When you try on new running shoes in the store those first steps feel like you’re walking on pillows. The floating experience continues outdoors for your first few runs, then slowly your dream shoe starts to break down. A few months in, the pillows deflate and suddenly you’re no longer walking on air.

With all the plastics, rubber and foam cushioning that comprise a running shoe the average lifetime span is approximately 500 miles or 800 kilometres. You’ll already notice a marked difference after 300 miles of training.

How often will you really need to replace them? It depends on your weekly mileage.

If you’re a 5K runner and you run three days per week your weekly mileage is probably around 12 miles/20 km. So you’ll need to replace your shoes after ten months of continuous workouts. So the logic goes…

  • 5K runners ——> 12 miles/20 km ——> every ten months
  • 10K runners ——> 18 miles/30 km ——> every eight months
  • Half marathon runners ——> 24 miles/40 km ——> every five months
  • Marathon runners ——> 31 miles/50 km ——> every four months

As I mentioned in the last Ask Julia post, I recommend that runners with higher mileage to rotate their shoes so that they can get better wear out of them.

That said, I’ve run well into the 1500 kilometre range with a few of my own shoes. Those puppies are dang expensive and with my endurance running habit I can’t afford too many pairs.

How do I do that? I keep my feet activated through specific mobility exercises. I purchase neutral shoes without extra cushioning. As time goes on I can feel the shoe getting harder with each step and that’s when they need to relegated to gardening duty.

If you’d rather not go by feel, you can simply keep track of your shoe’s mileage. The easiest way is to make a note in your running diary (our diary has an allocated space for this!) or use a smartphone app like Shoedometer.

How does a gal on a budget save money and still get that endorphin high?

  • Don’t buy the latest fad shoe. Look for the various brand standards like Nike Pegasus or Brooks Ghost or Asics Gel Excel. These are the shoes runners buy over and over again and they’re usually half the price of the 2015 models.
  • Shop where you’ll get a discount. My local running store will always take something off my purchase to keep me a loyal customer. Bigger chains don’t usually do this.
  • Order the same pair online. You know it fits like a dream, now scour the internet for a better price.
  • Try on last season’s model. Since they have to make room for the new models manufacturers usually sell last year’s at a discount. It’s definitely worth trying them on to see if they’re a good fit!

Stay tuned for the next Ask Coach Julia post when I’ll be answering: How do I keep my running motivation strong? If you have a burning running question, get in touch and we’ll help!