When To Replace Your Running Shoes

Good Content from: Team Saucony

As much as we wish they would, running shoes don’t last forever. As shoes age, they flatten out and break down, leaving you less supported while you run. It’s important to replace old shoes immediately, because continuing to run in them can lead to soreness, gait imbalances and increased injury risk.

At Saucony, we design our shoes to ensure that every run you take is going to be a good run. But like the tires on your car that need to be rotated every few months, you need to trade out your shoes once you’ve logged a certain number of kilometers in them.

Here, we’re talking about the lifespan of your shoes, when to replace them and what to do with them once they’re used up. (Hint: Don’t let them pile up in your shoe rack!)

How long do running shoes last?

On average, running shoes last for about 600 kilometers. When you start running in a new pair of shoes, take note of the date in a training log or running app, then keep track of how many kilometers you run in them.

While 400 is a good mileage guideline, this number depends on a lot of factors, such as running surfaces and climate. If you tend to run on hot pavement, the soles of your shoes might wear down faster than if you were running on shaded paths. Wet environments can also break them down quicker, as caked-on mud and grime can damage the uppers of shoes.

Some runners may also get less mileage out of their shoes depending on their individual preferences. For example, if you crave the maximum support and cushioning of new shoes, you might feel uncomfortable in your pair and need to replace them before 600 kilometers.

How to make your shoes last longer

Let’s face it. Retiring shoes is a bummer. Luckily, there are a few simple things you can do to make the most out of your shoes. Here are two tricks to expand the lifespan of your pair:

  • Rotate your shoes. One of the easiest ways to make your shoes last longer is to buy two pairs and alternate them every day. This allows the cushioning in the shoes to fully spring back into shape after each wear, which means you’ll have a comfortable ride for a much longer time period. You can rotate the same type of shoe or pair different types.
  • Dry and clean your shoes. After rainy runs, scrub off any mud and remove the insoles to dry. This helps protect the materials from dirt and water damage. To dry out shoes fast, stuff them with newspapers and leave them in a well-ventilated area. Just don’t put your shoes in the dryer, as the heat can destroy the glue on the uppers.

Signs that you need new shoes

Your body is the best judge for deciding when your shoes are breaking down. Here are a few tell-tale signs that you need new shoes:

  • The bottom of your feet are more sore than usual. As your shoes wear out, the cushioning in the soles flatten, leaving your feet less protected from the ground.
  • Your joints are aching. Decreased cushioning in worn-out shoes means your hips and knees take more pounding.
  • Your arches and ankles hurt. The support structures in shoes start to sag and weaken as they age, making them less effective at stabilizing your feet.
  • Your stride feels flat or less bouncy When the soles of your shoes break down, the responsive foam cushioning flattens out, giving you less energy return in each stride.

How to tell if running shoes are worn out

It’s better to spot worn-out shoes before your body takes a beating. Getting close to that 600-kilometer mark? You should start monitoring your shoes for these signs of aging:

  • Creases along the outer midsole that signal compressed cushioning
  • Worn-out treads
  • Holes or tears in the upper fabric
  • Heels that slant to one side

If these characteristics are exaggerated on your shoes, it’s wise to replace them.

What should you do with old running shoes?

Runners are known to hang onto old shoes for sentimental reasons, but after a while, they start piling up. To save yourself from frustrated spouses or roommates (yep, we’ve all been there), it’s best to donate or recycle your old shoes as soon as you’re done with them.

Here are a few places to donate your running shoes:

  • Your local running store. Ask your shop if they accept shoe donations, as some give old footwear and used clothing to members of the community in need.
  • Donation centers. Your local community shelter or Goodwill are great options to donate.

If your shoes are extremely dirty or used, you should recycle rather than donate them. Here are a few ideas for recycling shoes:

  • Repurpose your running shoes for another activity. Everyone needs a pair for walking and gardening that you don’t mind getting muddy.
  • Turn your shoes into plant potters. Just fill the insides with soil, add seeds, and place them on a deck with plenty of sunshine. Bet you never thought your shoes would smell like flowers, huh?

Out with the old, in with the new

Once your shoes feel flat and uncomfortable, it’s time to swap them for new ones. Remember to track how many kilometers you run in your shoes and retire them after a max of 600 kilometers. And if you need help picking a new pair to replace them, check out our Shoe Advisor, which recommends footwear based on your needs. Nothing feels better than fresh shoes!