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How Long Should Running Shoes Last?

A lot of runners often wonder how long their running shoes should last.  A typical answer is 300-500 miles, but it’s actually a bit more complex than that.  There are a lot of factors that play into how long a pair of running shoes will last including the size and efficiency of the runner, the weather, the frequency of use, and the actual shoes themselves.      

First let’s factor the runner who’s actually wearing the shoes.  Runner’s come in all shapes and sizes, and larger runners will typically wear out a pair of shoes quicker than a smaller runner. The force impact of running from more weight will break down the cushioning of the shoe quicker than it would from less weight, it’s just a simple matter of science.  Also, how efficient a runner is will also play a factor as well. For example, if someone tends to severely supinate, their shoes will break down very quickly on the outside, which is another reason to make sure you’re properly fit in the shoes.

Another factor to consider in the life of your shoes is the type of weather that you’re wearing them in.  Shoes you train in during the Fall and the Spring usually last longer than your shoes in the Winter and Summer.  In the Winter, there is usually more salt on the roads that can break down the shoes, and during the Summer runners typically sweat more, even in the feet, which can aid in breaking down shoes as well. 

How often you’re using your shoes also plays a part in how long they will last.  Most running shoes are made of foam, which compresses from the impact of running.  It can take a couple of days until the foam decompresses to its full strength.  For this reason it’s a good idea to have two pairs of training shoes to alternate every other run, especially if you’re a serious runner who runs every day or almost every day.

Another factor in how long your running shoes should last is the shoes themselves.  There are a variety of different materials used for running shoes, some break down quicker than others.  Gel and firmer foam usually last longest.  Don’t always assume more expensive shoes should last longer. Sometimes soft foams are designed for light weight and speed but break down quicker.  Most brands offer higher mileage models, which is another reason to be properly fit to make sure that you’re getting the right shoe for your running needs.

Finally the most important thing is to listen to your body.  If you’re feeling any aches or pains or your daily training just has a little less spring to it, chances are that your shoes are broken down.  Never wait until you see visible wear on the outsole to assume your shoes are wearing out, chances are the cushioning and support is already broken down.  Many runners try to stretch the life of their shoes as long as possible to save money, but a lot running injuries are related to training too long on broken down shoes, and in the end it’s just not worth it.  Make sure you’re getting fit properly in shoes that work for you to keep you running your best.

A.J. Kelly | Manager, AppRunCo – Altoona | May 2021

About the author: A.J. is the Store Manager at AppRunCo – Altoona. He lives in Altoona and has been a competitive runner for over 20 years.