WHEN DO YOU NEED NEW RUNNING SHOES?
| by BRIAN METZLER |
8 SIGNS YOU PROBABLY NEED NEW RUNNING SHOES
BY BRIAN METZLER
JackRabbit running shoe reviewer Brian Metzler knows his stuff when it comes to running shoes; he's reviewed most offerings from every running brand on the planet over the course of his running and writing career.
When it comes to knowing when you need a new pair of running shoes, the list runs from the most obvious - your shoes literally have holes in them - to more subtle reasons like the noticeable mental boost from the simple act of slipping on a new pair of kicks.
It's a more complex question that just 'how long do running shoes last'! Read on to learn Brian's wisdom on the signs to look out for that tell it might be time to retire the old and introduce the new!
1. Your shoes look worn.
Running shoes wear down after a few hundred miles of running and generally speaking have an optimal lifespan of about 400-500 miles. There’s not exact science to that, but visual signs of wear and tear—on the outsole, around the heel collar, at the toe box—are a good indication that your shoes ready for retirement.
It’s one thing to have an old sweater or pair of jeans that you’ll love until they become threadbare, but not so much for running shoes. If your running shoes just look dingy and broken down like you’ve left them in your garage, closet or trunk for years, well, it probably means you need to invest in a new pair.
2. Your feet ache.
Remember how good your feet felt when you tried on your running shoes for the first time? Went on those first long runs? Did that first tempo or fartlek workout? Well, do your feet still feel that good when you laced ‘em up yesterday and went for a run? Or do they ache when you run?
If your feet are sore later in the day when you’re wearing other shoes, it’s a good sign you need new running shoes. And if you’ve experienced sore or painful feet or aches and pains in your lower legs, knees, hips or lower back lately, it means your gait might be compromised from running in older shoes.
3. You can’t keep up.
When you first start running in a new pair of shoes, you typically have a pep in your step, right? You feel good about running, mentally and physically, and that translates to great long runs, effective workouts and improved fitness. But if you find yourself slowing down, not inspired to go the distance of your long runs, not meeting your workout splits, falling off the pace of your casual running group or just feeling bad about your running, it could mean you need new shoes.
After several months of running, your shoes will feel heavier and less energetic as foam materials start to break down and lose resiliency. Want to put a spring back in your step? Consider buying a new pair of running shoes.
4. Your running has become uninspired.
We can all get into a mental running rut. You know the feeling—it’s when your daily runs feel like a burden, slow and methodical but without a purposeful vibe. You wind up running the same routes you’ve been running for a while, only slower and with less interest.
It doesn’t necessarily mean you need new shoes; you might just need a motivational spark to change your ways. The best way to spark a change is to get a new pair of shoes, pick a new goal, start a new training plan, find some new places to run and reinvigorate yourself.
5. You’d rather do other things.
We all have a lot of interests, especially when it comes to exercising. Aside from running, we ride bikes, swim, hike, climb, and go to yoga, CrossFit and Orange Theory sessions.
Running is still the easiest and most efficient way to get in a good workout, but if you find yourself veering away from running to those other activities more often—or skipping exercise entirely—you might need to consider a new pair of shoes.
6. You wear your running shoes too often.
We all love wearing running shoes because they feel good. Running shoes have long been the comfort shoe of choice for Americans. Go to an airport, shopping mall or the movies and you’ll see that the majority of people are wearing running shoes. But if you’re wearing your shoes for more than just running—mowing the lawn, going to the grocery store, doing errands—you’re speeding up the shelf life of your kicks and also changing the wear patterns.
Wearing running shoes to walk around in everyday life can change the shape and wear down the foam of your shoes in ways that aren’t conducive for running. Naturally, running in them after hundreds of miles of walking around wont’ feel inspiring.
7. Your shoes don’t fit any more.
Go back to that luxurious feeling of how your feet felt in your shoes the day you got them. Chances are they don’t feel that way now. When you laced them up for your most recent run, they might have felt looser, heavier and more clumsy. You might find it harder to cinch up the laces and get them properly snug in the heel, saddle or forefoot. You might feel irritation on your heel or your big toe. You might feel your socks bunching up under your arch. Why? Because all the miles you have run in them (and perhaps walked in them) have changed the way your shoes fit.
The materials have stretched, worn down and become harder to bring together the way they did when they were new, and nothing will bring that new shoe feeling back. Except, of course, new shoes.
8. You just need new shoes.
I tell people often that “Happiness is a new pair of running shoes,” because buying a new pair of kicks is an investment in your health, and it comes with loads of built-in inspiration and motivation.
On the contrary, if you lace up your current shoes and don’t feel that—because they lack energetic pop or just that inspiring vibe—it’s a good indication that you might need new shoes.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: BRIAN METZLER
Brian Metzler has run races at every distance from 50 meters to 100 miles, wear-tested more than 1,500 pairs of shoes, is a three-time Ironman finisher and occasionally participates in the quirky sport of pack burro racing in Colorado.
He's the founding editor of Trail Runner magazine, is a former senior editor at Running Times and editor in chief at Competitor Magazine. He's the author of "Running Colorado's Front Range" and the co-author of "Natural Running: The Simple Path to Stronger Healthier Running" and "Run Like a Champion: An Olympian's Approach for Every Runner."
His new book, “Kicksology: The Hype, Science, Culture and Cool of Running Shoes” is now available.