When do running shoes wear out?

Running shoes aren’t cheap but they’re probably the most important piece of kit to keep your running on track and injuries at bay. They don’t last forever so when should you change your trainers?

Often there is a ball park figure of 500 miles (800km) quoted in the running media. There is little to justify where this number comes from and, like so much else in the running world, things really depend on you, your running style, the surfaces you run on and the particular shoes you’re wearing.

The best thing to do is keep an eye on the soles of your shoes. Whilst you can’t observe the cushioning to see if it’s flattening, the wear on the soles can indicate whether the shoes are taking a pounding.

Here are my latest 3 pairs of Asics Kayanos (one pair of 23 and two of 24):

On the right is the oldest pair with about 840km in them, the middle have around 440km and the left are brand new with only 9km run. I use Strava to log the mileage which is nice and easy.

The two key areas to look at are the heels and toes.

Here are the toes:

Notice how the pattern has almost completed worn smooth on the oldest (top), compared to the sharpness on the newest (bottom).

There is similar wear in the heels but you can also see compression creases in the cushioning which is a sign of them getting more squashed and less fresh:

I always try to get a new pair of trainers before I think the old ones have given up the ghost. I then alternate the old and new which strings out their respective lives a little. Even though there is less (or no) need nowadays to “break in” a pair of trainers I always like to ease them in gently.

The other thing I’ll do is relegate the older pair to shorter and lower intensity training sessions as there’s less need for the full freshness. For me, mine become the pair for my coaching/run leading sessions.

When do you change your running shoes? How do you tell they need changing?


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