Every runner loves lacing up into their favourite running shoes. Being able to step into a pair of sneakers after a tough day at work or a stressful situation, is a form of relaxation and enjoyment.
Runners love their shoes because of their uniqueness. With so many running shoes, different brands, and a variety of shoe specifications, runners can wear shoes which are ‘just right’ for them.
A moment runners don’t often look forward too, but is absolutely necessary (as we’ll find out) is getting new running shoes.
New running shoes? Can’t I just keep using my current ones?
Unfortunately, you can’t run in the same pair of shoes forever. Running shoes become old, worn and damaged, and need to be replaced. Much to our sadness and annoyance, it’s just a part of being a runner.
Unlike cycling or swimming, running is a high-impact sport with shoes taking a constant beating.
When you run, your feet are constantly pounding the floor to allow you to cover the distance. An average person’s foot meets the ground 80-100 times a minute when running. With all the rough contact and high-intensity impact, it’s a given that running shoes become worn and ineffective over time.
There are signals that you need new running shoes to look out for, here’s 7 of them:
1. Noticeable wear and tear defects
An easy way to tell if you need new shoes is when you observe noticeable wear and tear defects. If the shoes look old and dirty, have bits missing, are torn and damaged, or just look ‘past their sell by date’, it’s time to get new shoes.
Think about when you get to replace the normal shoes you wear to work or for casual wear. If they start looking filthy or have rips in them, you most probably recycle them or dispose of them in place for brand new shoes. The same goes for any clothes you own too.
It may seem like common sense, but it’s important to remember. If your running shoes feature any noticeable wear and tear defects, it may be time for new running shoes.
2. Developing aches and pains
Running shoes are developed and worn for the cushioning they provide for the feet. Cushioning in running shoes reduces strain on the heels, ankles, toes, and legs, protecting you against running-related injuries like shin splints.
When you start to feel aches and pains completely out of the blue, this is a huge sign your shoes have lost their cushioning. Pain is most commonly felt in the shins, ankles, and in your knee joints. If you notice pain on both sides of your body, this is usually a dead giveaway that cushioning is worn. It’s time to replace your running shoes.
3. Reduction in performance
If you’re using the correct technique, you should be able to run a time which you consider usual for you. When you start to notice slower times, or you’re training runs are taking longer than usual, this can be a sign your shoes are worn and need to be replaced.
Whilst you might not consciously notice aches and pains, a reduction in performance is sure to grab your attention. Cushioning you’re used to running with might be worn down, or the material in the sole might be uneven which puts you slightly off-balance mid-stride.
Note: Make sure all the conditions in which you notice a performance decline are typical, for what you normally experience.
Making sure all the conditions are ‘normal’ for you ensures performance decline isn’t due to something else like drinking alcohol the night before or not eating before the run.
4. Getting blisters out of the blue
Blisters occur when skin is damaged by too much friction or heat. The damaged layer of skin tears away from the layers beneath it and fluid builds up in the space to create a blister. Nasty.
Wearing Whilst getting blisters is part and parcel of being a runner, experiencing blisters out of the blue is usually a sign of faulty running shoes. If you’re getting blisters with an old pair, it’s likely the shoes have stretched with use, and are no longer an appropriate fit for you anymore. It may be time for some new shoes.
Before throwing out your sneakers and getting new ones, it’s always worth running with different socks. If a pair of socks are too thick, or not thick enough, this can rub against the skin and create a blister when running. If you’re still getting blisters after trying different socks, it’s time to get some new running shoes.
5. Doing lots of mileage
Generally, running shoes need to be replaced every 300-500 miles of use. Like a car engine needing new oil and water every few thousand miles, running shoes need to be replaced every 300-500 miles. Think of it as the ‘rule of thumb’ guidance.
A few factors like your weight, running style, the surface you run on, and the weather in which you commonly run in, can impact exactly how many miles.
How do I keep track of my mileage? Use apps and running watches
Downloading a free fitness app such as Strava or Runkeeper is a fantastic way to track mileage. Simply download the app, create a profile, then press ‘record’ each time you go for a run.
Using GPS technology, the app will pinpoint your location and track how many miles you’re running.
Also, you could use a running watch, like the Garmin Forerunner 235 or the Garmin Forerunner 735XT, to track your mileage. Running watches slip on your wrist while you run and measure key data sets such as your heart rate, distance travelled, pace per mile, elevation gained or lost, and so on.
Running watches are handy because you can use them in isolation, or in conjunction with an app like Strava.
I don’t use running apps or have a running watch
Every time you buy a new pair of running shoes, make a quick note of when you purchased them. Create a note on your phone, stick a piece of paper with the date on the fridge, or write the date within the shoe itself. Having an idea of when the shoes were bought can help you estimate the mileage.
6. Your other running shoes feel much better
If you start to notice one pair of shoes feels uncomfortable in comparison to the other, this is a signal the cushioning has worn away and the pair needs to be replaced.
It’s handy having two pairs of running shoes in rotation
Not only do you get to mix up your shoe styles, having two pairs serve the useful purpose of acting as comparison points against each other. If you had one pair of running shoes, you might not notice discomfort because there would be nothing to compare the sensation to.
7. Your new shoes are giving you aches and pains
It may be a difficult pill to swallow, but if you’re new running shoes are giving you pains after 10-20 miles, it might be time to go back to the drawing board.
Running shoe technology has progressed a lot in the past few decades. There’s little to no need to ‘wear in’ running shoes, as they should be flexible and adapt to your feet immediately. Therefore, new running shoes shouldn’t be giving you aches and pains.
Aches and pains from new running shoes might be because you have the wrong size shoe. It could even be because the shoes aren’t suited to your foot shape (some have wide feet, for instance). Alternatively, it could be the shoes aren’t suited to your running style. There’s a lot of possible reasons.
To avoid new running shoes giving you aches and pains, make sure you have the right running shoes for you. It’s always worth getting an expert opinion, from someone in a running or sports shop, or someone who is an avid runner with lots of knowledge on shoes.
Where can I get new running shoes?
- Running shops (like Sweatshop)
- Sports shops
- Branded websites (like Asics, Adidas, Altra, Brooks, Mizuno)
- Running exhibitions
Examples of some good running shoes
- Asics Gel-Nimbus 20
- Brooks Ghost 11
- Mizuno Wave Rider 21
- Saucony Liberty ISO
- Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 35
If you’re interested in finding out more on running shoes, read the following blog posts here: