When to replace your running sneakers with a new set of wheels can be a difficult decision to make, and at times, confusing. The general rule is to replace them typically between 300 and 500 miles. This is a wide range, and sometimes we don’t do the best job of tracking that number. Besides going by mileage, here are a couple quick tips on assessing whether your running sneakers have seen their last race.
First, determine how the heel of the shoe feels and looks. If it looks and feels crushed, and no longer soft, chances are it’s time for a replacement pair. When you purchase your next pair of running sneakers, feel the heel to get a good idea of what a fresh pair of sneakers should feel like.
On another note, if you store away a pair of sneakers for too long, the cushion can sometimes become hard. Check the sole and see if they are still soft. If your shoes have been sitting in the closet for a year or two, they could begin to lose their softness.
Check the bottom of the shoe, too. If the bottom of the shoe is wearing thin in the heel or in the ball of the foot area—to the point you can see some of the inner sole—then those shoes are no longer giving you the support needed.
Also, assess the way that you run. If you are a heavy-footed heel striker or have any tendency to over stride, you will create more friction through the bottom of the shoe. More friction will lead to wearing the sneaker out more quickly. The more efficient and light on your feet you are, the less wear and tear on your kicks.
Jamie Osmak is the Sports Performance Coordinator at Hospital for Special Surgery's James M. Benson Sports Rehabilitation Center and Tisch Sports Performance Center. He is a certified strength and conditioning specialist, USA Track and Field Level 1 Coach, and corrective exercise specialist with a degree in exercise science from Rutgers University.