How Long Do Running Shoes Last?

Running shoes are tough, but they don't last forever. Our shoes take a beating under our feet, bake on the asphalt and get caked in mud (not to mention sweat). The outsoles begin to go bald and the cushy foam gets compressed under our weight.

When your running shoes are new, they provide protection from the pavement and help keep you running smoothly. When shoes are on their last legs, though, they lose their ability to protect your feet and joints from running's repetitive pounding, which can lead to increased soreness and injury.

There are ways to make your running shoes last longer, but it’s also important to replace your shoes at regular intervals.

This guide will teach you how long running shoes typically last, the signs of when your shoes are worn out, how to make your shoes last longer and, finally, when to replace your shoes.

How Many Miles Do Running Shoes Last?

A woman laces up a pair of HOKA running shoes.

Tire companies recommend replacing many popular tires around 60,000 miles, and some engine oil should be swapped when you’ve driven 5,000 miles. Like tires and oil, your shoes have a lifespan that you should look out for when you're training.

If you keep track of the miles you run in each pair, most high-quality running shoes should last between 300 and 500 miles—about four to six months for someone who runs 20 miles per week. That number is lower for race-day shoes, which are designed to be lighter and faster, and typically use less materials to keep you light on your feet.

Top running shoe brands recommend those intervals based on when the materials start to deteriorate, even if signs of wear and tear aren’t easily visible. But even when your shoes are toast, you don't have to throw away your favorite pair: You can use them to do yard work or find ways to recycle your old shoes.

So, if your sneakers are creeping up in miles, it might be time to shop for the best running shoes.

How to Extend the Life of Running Shoes

Two runners run side by side in the golden glow of a sunset.

Even though you'll eventually have to replace your running shoes, you don’t want to send them into an early retirement. Like making a sports bra lastor preventing running injuries, you’ll get more miles out of your running shoes if you take care of them properly.

Here's how you can extend the life of your shoes:

  • Own multiple pairs of shoes. If you use just one pair of shoes, the pair shoulders all the weight of your running. But rotating multiple pairs of running shoes distributes the stress you put them through, so they all last longer.
  • Dry them out. You shoes will eventually get wet, whether it's an unexpected downpour or you sweat until they're soaked. After that happens, it’s important to dry your shoes out to keep them in top shape (and funk-free). Stuff some old newspaper in them to dry them quickly, or let them air out for a couple days before wearing your running shoes again.
  • Clean them up. Like running in the rain, your shoes will also probably encounter mud or dirt on your runs. Dirt can be abrasive to the shoe’s upper, causing it to wear out prematurely.
  • Run on the proper surface. Road running shoes were made to run on pavement, and trail running shoes were meant for the trail. Your road shoes won’t hold up to the abuses of the trail, and the lugs on your trail shoes will get worn down more quickly on rough concrete.
  • Wear them only for running. While your shoes may be so comfortable that you want to wear them all the time, swap into a different pair of shoes before heading out to run errands or getting your cross training in.

How to Tell if Running Shoes are Worn Out

Two runners run side by side in pairs of the New Balance 1080 v13.

Sometimes the eyeball test will tell you all you need to know about the age of your shoes, but other times worn out running shoes might not be so obvious. If your shoes aren’t telling you they’re ready to be retired, your body might provide clues.

Here are some tell tale signs that your running shoes are ready for a slower life of mowing the lawn:

  • Your shoes will feel flat. The bouncy midsole foam in a pair of new shoes will absorb impact associated with running, saving your feet and joints from taking a pounding. As your shoes age, though, the foam loses some of its ability to rebound, like if you put a brick on top of a marshmallow.
  • Nagging aches and pains. Hard workouts or increased mileage can make you feel sore the next day, but if little pains persist even after a normal run, it might be time for a refresh.
  • Worn soles. The outsoles of your running shoes have tread just like the tires on your car, which helps cushion your landings and grip the pavement. But the ground is abrasive, especially if you primarily run on concrete and asphalt. If your soles sport bald patches and excessive wear, they won’t provide as much shock absorption as a new pair. Replacing them will go a long way towards injury prevention.
  • Uneven wear. If your worn soles are uneven, this can signal an even greater problem than just needing new shoes. It could mean you need different types of shoes, like a pair of the best stability shoes, to better support your running gait. If that's the case, take them with you when you go to get fitted for your next pair so the wear patterns can be analyzed.

This article is part of our guide for How to Start Running.

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