Miles or Months. How long do running shoes last?

If you think about it, running shoes are one of the best things you can spend money on.

For the $100-150 you spend (yes, some models are much more expensive), you are making a huge investment in your fitness for the next 4-8 months. But it’s also a contradiction, because behind it is the concept that the more you run and the healthier you are, the faster your shoes will wear out and the more you’ll need to buy a new pair.

How long should your running shoes last? There’s a common understanding that most shoes have a lifespan of between 350 and 500 miles, but that depends on what kind of running you’re doing and many other factors, says Sonya Estes, owner of Runner’s Roost in Lakewood, Colorado.

These are just estimates, but it’s important to realize that foam midsoles, synthetic fabrics, rubber outsoles, and even laces can start to break after about 200 miles.

In recent years, Estes said she’s seen a trend for some shoes to last longer or wear more evenly, in part because there are fewer shoes with dual-density support on the inside. However, she admits that all shoes break eventually, and running too long in shoes that show signs of wear can lead to changes in your gait, less protection for your feet, general discomfort, or overuse injuries, she says.

“It’s one of those things, some people think it’s a certain number of miles, some people think it’s a fixed number of months, so we tell them to come back in a few months to see how they’re doing,” she said. “With some of the better rubber outsole material from Vibram and Continental, some shoes will last longer than that,” she said. “So it really depends on the runner and the shoe.”

Even with runner/shoe differences, there are still things you can do to make your shoes last a little longer. Here are some tips to get the most out of your shoes.

wear shoes only when running
Many running shoes look good with jeans and can complement casual wear. But it’s best to avoid wearing running shoes for anything but running. Wearing your running shoes as everyday shoes for walking the dog, running errands, or mowing the lawn can change the wear pattern of your shoes, reduce the lifespan of the shoes, and eventually change your gait slightly, potentially causing inappropriate Soreness or overuse injuries.

Remember, your racing shoes are especially fragile
Lightweight “supershoes” designed for half-marathons and marathons have a much shorter shelf life because the foam in the midsole is more fragile. Therefore, they cannot withstand a lot of mileage. If you save these shoes for game day, you can use them for 4-5 games. But if you’re also using them for long runs or fast-paced workouts, they’ll probably be toasted after about 250-300 miles. Keep in mind that super shoes also cost more than your typical training shoes.

cultivate a pair of shoes
Try to avoid running in the same pair of shoes every day. Instead, rotate between two or more different models each week, depending on the type of running you do and the surface you run on. For example, you can wear a pair of padded shoes for long-distance or recovery runs, and lighter, stiffer shoes for faster workouts, such as tempo, brisk, and interval runs. Rotating shoes throughout the week will not only prolong the life of each pair, but it will also work the small muscles in your feet and calves in a different way, helping you avoid overuse injuries. Also, avoid road running shoes when running on technical trails with rocks and other debris.

take care of your shoes
Running shoes are only good if you treat them. After a mud run or a hot, sweaty run, rinsing your shoes with a hose or tap will help reduce wear and tear. Stuffing wet shoes with newspaper or a dry towel, or briefly drying them in the sun can speed up the drying process, but never put shoes in the dryer. Also, keep your shoes indoors, but not in a car or garage, where extreme heat or cold temperatures can temporarily or permanently affect the materials and performance of your shoes.

Do not wear and take off at will
Take the time to put your shoes on correctly before running. Also, don’t take off your running shoe by stepping on the back of a shoe with your other foot and pulling your foot out without unlacing it. Not only does this strain your foot muscles, but it stretches the material of the shoe. The only thing worse than taking your shoes off without unlacing them is putting them on without unlacing them. This may seem like a great time saver, but if you put the shoe on with the laces still on, you can strain your foot, squeeze it back, and affect the shape of the shoe.

Recognize the signs of fatigued shoes
There are plenty of signs that you’re ready to return a pair of shoes for another. The first is obvious signs of wear on the outsole pattern or mesh upper. If you feel like your shoe has lost its stretch or vibrancy and no longer brings spring to your steps, it may mean that the midsole foam has compressed and lost its ability to bounce back adequately.

Finally, if you start getting unusual pain or soreness from a pair of shoes you’ve been running for a while, it could mean the shoes are too bad to go any further.

return your shoes
While we’ve all developed an obsession with our favorite shoes, there’s a limit to how long you can stick with them. When you retire, you should permanently remove it from your running rotation, even if you use it as a casual shoe or as a shoe for yard work. (You should still avoid walking in these shoes for long periods of time, as whatever you’re wearing can cause your gait to become abnormal and cause pain in your knees or hips).

To be environmentally responsible, try to avoid throwing your shoes in the trash. There are a number of organizations that will give your shoes a new lease of life so they don’t end up in the junkyard, including One World Running, Share Your Soles, and Shoe4Africa.