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When do you need to change your running shoes?
It’s one of the first questions that beginners ask: how often should I change my running shoes? And it’s a question that many more experienced runners need to think about too. But, at first glance, the range of views on this issue is bewildering:
View 1: Listen to your body to tell you when to change running shoes
- At Competitor.com, Mario Fraioli writes that the a good running shoe should last you between 400 and 600 miles.
- But, Fraioli argues, the precise optimal mileage figure will depend on a range of factors like build, running style and training load.
- In practice, as the quote below suggests, the best approach is to listen to your body.
Listen to your body. When the midsole of a shoe starts to break down it’s not supporting and protecting your foot, or the rest of your body, as well as it was when you first started running in it. How do you know when breakdown is occurring in a shoe? Easy. Your body will tell you.
View 2: Change running shoes more often than you need
Others tell a different story. 400-600 miles? That’s not what you hear when you listen to the pros.
Take the case of Ryan Hall, writes Gina Kolata of the New York Times. He’s a changed man. He used to run his shoes into the ground. Not any more. He assiduously replaces his shoes after running only around 200 miles. He manages to get through two pairs each month.
I know that my shoes could probably handle a couple of hundred more miles before they are worn out, but my health is so important to me that I like to always make sure my equipment is fresh.
View 3: Change your running shoes when they fail the test
There is also another approach you can take, notes Calvin Men for the Greatist.com. It’s a four step plan:
- Try the press test.
- Look for creasing in the sole.
- Pay attention to aches and pains.
- Compare news shoes with old ones.
An alternative view: Change your running shoes when the science tells you to
All very interesting, but ultimately confusing. Fortunately, there’s a more scientific approach we can take to answering the question, writes John Davis for RunnersConnect.
In short, simply ask yourself these questions:
- How well are your shoes absorbing shocks? A study by Cook, Kester and Brunet at Tulane University revealed that cushioning proerties degrade very quickly, within as little of 50 miles. But the good news is that there’s fairly limited loss of cushioning thereafter. There also appeared to be no significant difference in this pattern across different brands.
- How are your shoes affecting your running mechanics? Despite the loss of cushioning apparent after relatively low mileage, Kong, Candelaria and Smith at the University of Texas found only minor changes in mechanics after shoes had been through 200 miles of use.
- How are your shoes affecting the impact forces you experience? In the same study, Kong, Candelaria and Smith found that after 200 miles of use, there was no change at all in the actual forces measured.
Davis argues that these results should not comes a surprise. The body adapts in many ways. And one way it adapts, so it seems, is for the leg to become more compliant to adapt to stiffer, thinner worn shoes.
The conclusion then? Based on the scientific evidence in this area, Davis reckons the answer can be summed up by this:
If you are relatively healthy and just need a comfy pair of shoes to protect your feet, there isn’t any evidence that pushing the boundaries on shoe durability is going to cause any real harm aside from having a pair of shoes that look dirty and smell awful.
One word of caution in interpreting this scientific evidence. In the Davis article, he does note the foolowing important caveat:
If you rely on your shoes for a specific biomechanical effect (especially when used in conjunction with a custom orthotic), it’s a good idea not to run too long in the same pair of shoes, since there’s no telling how your body will tolerate the altered surface.
More reading on when to change your running shoes
When do you need to change your running shoes?
Some answers to the question of when you should change your running shoes...and the reason why you're probably doing it all wrong.
By Mario Fraioli Published Oct. 22, 2012 Dear Mario, I'm a new runner training for my first half marathon with Team in Training. Our training group's coach told me to change my shoes every six months, but the guy at the running store in town told me every 300-400 miles.
We've all heard of the recommendation by shoe companies and running stores that we should replace our shoes every 400-500 miles to avoid injury. But it's al
Marathon, half-marathon, 10k and 5K training plans to get you race ready. Ryan Hall, one of the world's best distance runners, used to pride himself on wearing his running shoes into nubs. No more. Now he assiduously replaces his shoes after running about 200 miles in them.
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