How Long Do Running Shoes Last?

Signs Your Running Shoes Need to Be Replaced

Running shoes

Verywell / Amelia Manley

While some runners may feel nostalgic for a favorite pair of running shoes, continuing to run in old or worn-out shoes can lead to discomfort and injuries. Over time, your running shoes lose shock absorption, cushioning, and stability. When you run in worn-out shoes, it increases stress and impact on your legs and joints, which can cause overuse injuries as well as just general aches and pains. One of the best things you can do to prevent running injuries is to replace your shoes at the right time.

How Long Do Running Shoes Last?

A good rule of thumb is to replace your running shoes every 300 to 400 miles, depending on your running style and the surface on which you run. Some runners can get new shoes at the upper end of the recommendation if their sneakers don't show as much give, other runners should consider replacement shoes closer to 300 miles if they experience a lack of support or traction.

You may also need new shoes more often if you have an uneven gait or if you log a lot of miles on rugged terrain.

Keep in mind that running shoes are not all built the same. Racing shoes or flats, for example, will not last as long as sturdier shoes. Even when following this mileage guideline, you should always pay attention to how your shoes look and feel. If they look and feel worn out (even before 300 miles of use), it's time for a new pair.

Signs You Should Replace Your Shoes

Here are some indicators that it is probably time for a new pair of running shoes.

High Mileage on Your Shoes

In addition to tracking the number of miles you have on your shoes, where you run is also an important consideration. If you run on rough roads or trails, you'll need to replace your shoes sooner than if you do primarily treadmill running.

If you have trouble tracking when you bought your shoes and how many miles they have on them, write the date on the inside of your shoe when you buy them. By knowing the exact date you bought them and about how many miles you run per week, you should be able to roughly estimate how many miles you've run in them.

If you take good care of your running shoes, you may be able to get away with replacing your shoes at the higher end of the recommended mileage range.

Pain When Running

If you've been feeling muscle fatigue, shin splints, or some pain in your joints—especially your knees—you may be wearing shoes that have lost their cushioning. When you're feeling pain on both sides (both knees, for example, instead of just one), that's often an indication that you need new running shoes.

If you are experiencing pain even if your shoes are relatively new, you might want to talk to a running professional at a shoe store. You may be wearing the wrong type of shoes for your feet.

Poor Shock Absorption

If you feel like you can feel the impact of every step in your feet, knees, and hips, it means that the shock absorption in your shoes has deteriorated. Running is a high-impact sport, but shoes with good shock absorption can minimize the strain on your ligaments, tendons, muscles, and bones.

Worn-Out Treads

One tell-tale sign that you need new running shoes is if the treads, especially on the soles, are worn out. The soles last longer than the shoe's cushioning and shock absorbency, so if the soles are worn down, it's definitely time for new ones. You should never run in shoes that have worn-down soles. Save them for working in the garden or mowing the lawn.

Uneven Wear

You should also watch for signs that your shoes are wearing unevenly. If your tread wear pattern indicates a possible gait issue, talk to an expert at your local shoe store for advice on what you need to do to correct the problem. Changes to your running form can help, but you also likely need to change shoes as well.

  • Excessive wear on the front part of your shoe can be a sign of overpronation, which means your foot turns too far inward as you take each step.
  • Excessive wear on the outside edges of your shoe may be a sign of under-pronation (supination). This means that your foot shifts outward with each step, placing the brunt of the impact on the outer bones of your foot.

Newer Shoes Feel Better

Your overall comfort when running is important. Research suggests that wearing comfortable shoes helps runners maintain proper form and movement when running, which in turn helps minimize injury risk. If newer shoes just feel better than your old pair, consider switching.

Some experts recommend that runners rotate two pairs of running shoes. If you get a new pair of running shoes about halfway through the life of your old ones, they can serve as a reference to help you notice when your old ones are ready to be replaced. If you notice a big difference in the cushioning of the newer pair, then it's probably time to retire the old ones.

Try the Twist Test

If you hold your running shoes at both ends and twist the shoe, it should feel firm. An old shoe or one that doesn't have proper support will twist easily.

This test, however, does not apply to all running shoes. Most light-weight, cushioned running shoes will fail this test right out of the box. But for sturdy, supportive shoes that have a lot of miles on them, this is a good indicator that it's time for a replacement.

How to Extend the Life of Your Shoes

Knowing how often to replace your running shoes is important, but there are also steps that you can take to extend the life of your shoes.

Only Wear Running Shoes When You Run

It might be tempting to wear your shoes all day—after all, they are comfortable and lightweight. But that extra daily wear can limit the life of your shoes dramatically. Kick them off after your workout and switch out to a pair of older “retired” running shoes.

Take Them Off the Right Way

Always undo the laces when you put your shoes on and off. Avoid just toeing them off when you finish your run. Not lacing and unlacing can break down the heel of your shoe, which means your shoes can get overstretched.

Keep Them Clean

Give your shoes a quick wipe-down after every run to remove dirt, mud, or water. Pull out any rocks or pebbles that might have gotten caught in the treads. If you need to wash them, do not toss them in the washing machine. Using just a sponge and some soapy water, hand wash your shoes, then allow them to air dry.

Always Air-Dry Your Shoes

Never toss them in the dryer, set them on the heat vent, or place them on a shoe dryer. The high heat can break down the material and soles of your shoes.

Rotate Your Shoes

Rather than just using the same pair day in day out, consider buying at least two sets of shoes so that you can make sure that your shoes have time to fully air dry between runs. You can also vary your shoes depending on the type of running you plan to do (trails vs. roads vs. tracks) as well as based the weather conditions.

A Word From Verywell

Even if you take great care of your shoes, you will want to replace them about every 400 miles. Keep an eye on the overall condition of your shoe as well as how you feel after running. Let all of these indicators act as a guide to help you determine how long your running shoes last.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How long should you wear running shoes before replacing?

    Experts recommend replacing running shoes every 300-400 miles. That being said, how your feet feel in your shoes is also an indicator of when they should be replaced; if your feet begin hurting before the 300-mile mark, it's time to trade in your running shoes.

  • How do you know if running shoes are bad?

    General wear and tear can emphasis the life of a pair of running shoes. If you find your shoes lacking support they once had, losing traction, or becoming uncomfortable, it's time for them to be replaced.

  • Should you mix up your running shoes?

    Experts suggest rotating your running shoes to extend their lifespan. If you're switching between two different pairs of shoes, you'll have more time before each pair wears out. This also helps "give your shoes a break" if running is an everyday activity in your life.

2 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Surface effects on in-shoe plantar pressure and tibial impact during runningJournal of Sport and Health Science. 2015;4(4):384-390. doi:10.1016/j.jshs.2015.09.001

  2. Nigg BM, Baltich J, Hoerzer S, Enders H. Running shoes and running injuries: Mythbusting and a proposal for two new paradigms: 'Preferred movement path' and 'comfort filter'. Br J Sports Med. 2015;49(20):1290-4. doi:10.1136/bjsports-2015-095054

By Christine Luff, ACE-CPT
Christine Many Luff is a personal trainer, fitness nutrition specialist, and Road Runners Club of America Certified Coach.