Just like finding the best pair of running shoes there is no one size fits all answer to how long a pair of running shoes should last. Manufacturers tell us that their shoes should last between 800 and 1200km but where your shoes land on this scale (or outside of it) will depend on your specific running style and the type of running you’re doing.
You’re foot-strike pattern will have a large bearing on how the shoe will wear over time. Shoe manufacturers tend to produce shoes that feature plenty of cushioning in the heel of the shoe and as such midfoot and moderate heel strikers are likely to get the longest life from their shoes across all surfaces. Heavy heel strikers are likely to wear the heel of the running shoe pre-maturely and forefoot strikers wear the ball area of the shoe usually leaving the rest of the shoe un-worn.
The surfaces that you run on also have a big impact on how long your running shoes will last. If you run on roads or footpaths a lot then you will wear your shoes out more quickly than running on grass or trail surfaces. Additionally running down steep hills can adversely affect your shoes as the increased impact forces between the shoe and the ground can literally tear the tread off the shoe. This is one of the reasons specialty trail running shoes exist, handling situations where extreme wear may occur is part of their design.
Many experienced runners just know when they need a new pair of shoes, usually the upper of the shoe will look just fine but the out sole has worn down leaving the midsole exposed to wear and degradation. Once the midsole is exposed it is time to replace the shoe as this means that the protective outsole which is designed to handle the friction of contact with the running surface is no longer functioning. Midsole materials vary between manufacturers and models but generally the midsole is a softer material that provides cushioning and often wears more quickly than the outsole.
Another indicator that your shoes need replacing is cracking/creasing in the midsole material visible on the outside of the shoe. Deep creasing in the midsole indicates that the cushioning midsole material has broken down and is not providing the support you need while running. Additionally you may notice that your shoes are more flexible which again means they will not be providing you with the same support they once did. Feeling the difference between your current shoes and a new pair may actually be another great way to literally feel the difference and know that you need a new pair.
There are more than a few digital aids that might be useful in tracking how many ks you’ve done in your shoes. Once upon a time you might have done this in a training diary where you logged your mileage and added it all up. Now with Strava, Garmin connect and more you can pretty accurately see how many kilometers you’ve run an a specific pair of shoes provided you set it up. Strava will even remind you when you need another pair so there can be no excuses.
If you’re new to running or just unsure if your shoes need replacing we’d love to hear from you. Why not come visit us in-store or send us a photo via email or instagram and we’ll give you our opinion on whether or not you need new shoes or if the shoes are right for you (asymmetrical wear may indicate you need a more structured shoe).