When It is Time to Replace Running Shoes (A Personal Account)

when should you replace your running shoes?

Sometimes I can be slow to internalize things. I might need to learn a lesson a few times before it gets through my skull and into my decision-making process.

Pair that quality with a frugal mindset and a hesitation to spend money on myself, and you have someone who is likely to use things longer than they should be used.

Exhibit A, running shoes.

I’ve blogged before about my love for running (here and here are a few posts). Now that I’ve gotten back into the groove of hitting the road multiple times per week, one downside is that running shoes wear out faster when they are being used regularly. Shocker, right?

My occasional slow-to-internalize tendency has reared its head in the past when running shoes are ready to be chucked, but I either don’t recognize it or am in denial. If anyone else out there shares my dilemma, here are three things to look out for:

  1. Shin pain/shin splints
    If you can run pain-free for months, then suddenly running brings sharp pains to your shins during the duration of your runs, shin splints are a likely culprit. Worn out shoes are the likely culprit for those. If the shin pain goes away after your run is over, congratulations, the mystery is likely solved without bringing in a private investigator. New running shoes will almost certainly help.
  2. General body aches
    This one was the warning sign I recognized but ignored recently. I’ve worked hard to get back in shape after letting my fitness slide for a few years and was pleased that I could put in miles regularly with no adverse effects. Then I started noticing various pain throughout all my joints. I figured it was time to get new shoes, but I forgot about it for a few weeks and continued to run. An indication of my thick head: allowing myself to be in pain for multiple runs before doing something about it. New shoes cost money, people! If you’ve experienced this, don’t cheap out on yourself like I did. Get some new running shoes.
  3.  Wear and tear on shoes
    I find this to be the trickiest of all. Because of the frugal tendencies I mentioned above, I find it difficult to convince myself that my shoes are worn out unless they are starting to fall apart or the tread on the sole is worn smooth. As it turns out, running shoes can lose their valuable shock absorption qualities, bringing the symptoms mentioned in #1 and #2, without the shoes looking too worn.

Case in point, the shoes I finally retired:

When is it time to replace your running shoes
But, but, they still look fine!
When is it time to retire running shoes?
OK, maybe these DO look worn out.

I looked at these soles and figured they still had some life left in them, especially since the upper part of the shoe was perfectly intact. As they say, looks can be deceiving. I learned the hard way that listening to your body tells a much more compelling story.

As far as official recommendations on how long to use running shoes, it varies to some degree. But the standard advice is that running shoes should be replaced after you put 300-500 miles on them. The shoes pictured above have close to 500 on them.

After going for a 4.5-mile run late last week, and feeling for the next 24 hours like I got slammed around in a mosh pit of sumo wrestlers, I finally decided enough was enough. As I write this, I am wearing my new kicks inside to break them in. Can’t wait to get back out on the trail and keep logging those miles, now without pain!

Any runners out there have anything to add to these recommendations? Anyone else ever allowed being too cheap to keep you from replacing shoes?


3 responses to “When It is Time to Replace Running Shoes (A Personal Account)”

  1. Oh my! I hope your mother’s frugal habits haven’t impacted you too much! You DESERVE new running shoes whenever you want them, my precious daughter!

    1. Summer Sorensen Avatar
      Summer Sorensen

      Well, I could say that I am a product of my environment, but that is pretty normal. Don’t feel bad about that. It is something I have to work through for myself. I am slowly learning that investing in quality things are a better value than buying cheap things that need to be replaced more often. And that I shouldn’t be a cheapskate for myself. Especially when it comes to things that will impact my health, like shoes.

  2. I have been waiting for my running shoes to wear out for several years now. I did get knee pain at some point, but I was overstriding. My knees are better now and its time to get back to wearing out those shoes.

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