How to tell when your running shoes need replacing

As a general rule, running shoes need replacing once you have covered about 500 miles in them. However, there are a number of factors that will influence exactly when your shoes will wear out, such as:

  • Your build
  • Your running style or gait
  • The surface you normally run on
  • The type of shoe

Over time the cushioning and support in running shoes start to reduce. If you continue to run in worn-out shoes then the impact forces of running on your joints and muscles are magnified and the risk of injury increases.

As the 500 miles of wear is only a rough guide you need to be aware of certain signs that indicate that it might be time to invest in a new pair:


Outsole wear

The outsole is made of highly durable material, if this shoes excessive wear then the cushioning elements in the midsole, which are less durable are highly likely to be suffering in the same way.

Midsole wear

This is usually the first area of the shoe to wear out as it has to work the hardest. It also hard to check, as this is the part of the shoe above the outsole and below the removable insole; so you can’t really get a good look at it.

Look at the sides of the shoe above the outsole and below the upper; are there lots of creases and wrinkles? – this suggests excessive compression. If this area shows a lot of wear then the chances are that the midsole area within the shoe directly below where the foot sits will also been worn.

Remove the insole and put your hand inside the shoe, push down on the forefoot area with your fingertips. Does it press down and spring back slightly? Or does it feel really firm with no spring back? A firm feel with lack of springiness indicates the cushioning has compressed and will no longer be absorbing impact forces very well.

The twist test

To check the status of the stability features of the she you can carry out the twist test. Hold the shoe with one hand on the heel and one hand on the forefoot and twist the shoe in the middle. If the stability features are worn out then it will be easy to twist the shoe.

Aches and pains

If you’ve had your shoes a while and you start to develop new aches and pains, such as foot or shin soreness or knee pain, that you can’t attribute to other aspects of your training then it could be that you need new running shoes.

Tracking wear

When you get a new pair of shoes you should start tracking the miles you run in them. You could do this by:

Making a note of which shoes you wore for each run when you update your training log. If you run a similar amount of miles each week and only use one pair of shoes at a time, you can do a quick calculation as to the date they are predicted to reach 500 miles. Make a note of this date in your diary or on the inside of the shoes somewhere

When your shoes start to get close to the 400 miles mark you should start checking them for wear. Before they completely wear out, it is a good idea to invest in a new pair and alternate wearing the new an old pairs. This gets you gradually used to wearing the new shoes and reduces the time you spend in shoes that are wearing out. Transitioning straight from completely worn out shoes to brand new shoes can sometimes cause problems as body has not had time to adapt to the changes in cushioning and stability.