By Elizabeth Pakosta
Spring is right around the corner. Now’s the perfect time to take a good look at your running shoes as you begin your spring cleaning. Three to 400, and sometimes up to 500 miles, tends to be the rule of thumb when deciding when to toss the sneakers, but factors like running style, weight, size and surface factor into a shoe’s life expectancy.
Elite marathoner Ryan Hall says he goes through two pairs of running shoes… per month, switching them out every 200 miles. But not too many of us run a 4:46 mile. So, how do you know when to retire your Nikes to the garage? Here’s a few ways to see if your running shoes still have some soul:
- Mileage will differ on your type of running, as soles wear quicker on asphalt, slower on soft-pack. If you’re a neighborhood runner, your shoes will wear out quicker than if you’re a trail runner. If your workouts are mostly in the gym, your running shoes will have more sole thanks to padded treadmills.
- Your physical size and running style weigh in as well: light-footed runners will get more wear out their shoe, pavement pounders and heel strikers not so much. Shoemaker Mizuno says some runners can expect to get 250 to 300 miles per shoe, while other runners can expect to double that in the same shoe. It all depends on you.
- Wear usually shows first on the outsole, yet the all-important midsoles tend to wear out first. The spongy midsole is where all the cushioning, and shock absorption, happens. Note that heavier runners will wear out their midsoles quicker. And look for “compression wrinkles” on your midsoles. Sorry, but if they’re there, it’s not only you that’s aging, but your running shoes, too.
- Put one hand inside your shoe. Press and fold the sole from the outside with your other hand. Basically, if you can feel your hand through the sole or feel creases or cracks, say goodbye.
- As a former runner turned hiker, I thought this the best advice for determining if you need new running shoes: Go into an athletic shoe store and try on a new pair of the same shoes you’re currently in. If the new shoes put a spring back in your step, and your old ones feel “flat,” you have your answer.
- Have your outsoles worn so much they resemble a balding car tire? You wouldn’t drive your car with no treads. Don’t drive your body, either.
- And finally, listen to your body. If your normal routine suddenly becomes painful, that’s a sure sign you need to take a few steps towards a decent shoe store. Sore knees, banged up heels and bruised balls of your feet scream much louder than frayed laces and smelly insoles!