The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

You Know It’s Time To Buy New Running Shoes When…

Posted by on Tuesday, March 6th, 2012

Well, if you’re me, the answer is usually something like, “When there are so many holes in my shoes that rocks and other assorted pieces of garbage fly into my shoes at every step. Oh, and also when my feet, shins, and knees really hurt.”

I guess you could say I wait a little too long to buy new running shoes (though others do as well), but I have a good (sort of) reason for this. The company that makes the shoes I liked discontinued my favorite model a few years ago, and I didn’t have much luck with the new version they offered. So for me, buying new running shoes means diving into an agonizing process of searching through eBay and other outlets, hoping to find someone who still has stock of the old shoes in my size (I know I’m not the only one who is forced to do this, thanks to the whims of large shoe companies–I mean, seriously, the US is still using the 50 year old U2 spy plane, so why must Nike discontinue a shoe after two years?!!!). And if I can find them in a color that won’t make me want to immediately jump into a mud puddle to cover them up, that’s all the better (honestly, where do sneaker manufacturers come up with some of their color combinations?).

My problem is that I know there are now only a limited number of the shoes I like left in the world, so I have this irrational urge to wear each pair I find to pieces before searching for new ones. If I was a wealthy type of person, I’d buy up about  ten pairs now, but alas, that is not the case, so I have to live with one at a time. Maybe by the time the stock runs out on eBay, it will be time for the shoes to be brought back in a cool, retro edition.

But never mind me and my stupidity–it’s important to keep up with your running shoes because worn out ones don’t offer your feet the same stability they once had, and that opens you up to a whole host of injuries (and if you have holes in your shoes, you also will get the cuts and bruises of “rock in shoe” syndrome). So how often should you buy new running shoes? Here are some tips:

  • Keep an eye on your mileage. Most experts recommend that you buy new shoes every 300-500 miles. Mark your calendar when you get a new pair, keep an eye on your miles per week, and begin to pay close attention to your shoes as you approach the 300 mark.There are other factors to weigh, of course. If you’re a small, light person, you’ll probably be able to stretch them closer to the 500 mile mark; if you’re a bigger sort of person, you might find yourself needing new ones closer to 300 miles. The surface you run on and the weather conditions also matters. Running shoes will wear down faster if you always run on pavement, asphalt, or hard terrain, but will have a little longer life if you mostly run on a soft dirt trail or path. If your shoes get wet often because you live in a rainy climate (and, like me, are too dumb too come in out of the rain when running), then the material will weaken more quickly and holes will break  sooner. Which brings me too…
  • Hole in one. If you have a hole in your shoe, get new running shoes. If you have more than one hole in your shoe, no, seriously, go get new running shoes.
  • Use your body as a guide. Maybe your shoes only have 200 miles on them, but you notice that your feet or shins are beginning to hurt, your knees are aching, maybe your back feels awkward. Think about whether you’ve done anything new in your training recently. Are you running on a different surface? Have you had a big uptick in mileage? Are you running up or down more hills? If you can’t think of any other reasonable explanation for your new nagging aches and pains, then unfortunately your shoes may be the culprit. I say unfortunately because running shoes are pretty expensive, and I’m sure you have no desire to shell out another $100 dollars on new ones only two months after buying your last pair. However, keep this in mind–buying new shoes will cost you a lot less in dollars than numerous visits to a doctor to fix the injuries caused by your old, worn shoes, and will cost a lot less mentally than finding your training interrupted by a host of injuries that you could have prevented.
  • Take them off! If you have any doubts about how you feel running in these shoes or how much mileage you have on them, sit down and take them off, and give them a good, honest look. Is the tread worn smooth? When you try to bend or twist them, how easily do they bend? If they fold like wet noodles, then the midsoles are too soft to offer your feet any support or stability. It’s time.
  • Alternate pairs of shoes. Rather than wait until you’ve completely worn down one pair of shoes, buy two pairs at once if you can afford that. Then alternate them on your running days and voila! It will be twice as long before you have to go search for new ones. Another possibility is to wait until you’ve got one hundred miles or so on one pair, then get a second and start to break them in while you still have plenty of wear on your first.

I hope these ideas help you make your decision about when to buy new running shoes. If you’re having any problems with your feet and are unsure of the cause, contact us at The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine. Dr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, and Dr. Ryan Minara have helped thousands of people get back on their feet.

If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, and Dr. Ryan Minara have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.