When should you replace your running shoe?

Albeit being the oldest sport in human history, the question of when to change your running shoe has never been truly answered.

The thing is, it varies from person to person, climate to climate, running form to running form etc.

Some say that like tires, your shoes should be changed based on time used (i.e. every 6 months), but what if you run every single day for those six months? Others say you should change your shoes after running a certain distance in them, but not everyone measures the distance they run (although it is as simple as turning on an app in your phone mind you).

Let us take a look at the following examples:

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Here is a selection of my running shoes, after much tryouts, I decided that the Adidas Adizero is the best fit for me, and for the sake of diversity, I went with the ASICS Volt 33. That way we have created a level playing field by testing models that are similar.

 

My first pair were the white Adizero’s, fortunately when I started using them I was already well into my running phase and eager to measure distance, speed, time etc. Hence I had a rough idea of the mileage for each shoe. The Adizero lasted for roughly 360-370KM. Then it began to literally fall apart, as you can see below:

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 The mesh began to come apart, and slowly but surely I began to notice that my calves, ankles and/or knees were hurting, when they did not hurt before.

That is the most critical point of decision; you begin to experience pain due to the support of the shoe having deteriorated.

So I set them aside as walking shoes and got a new pair, the Black ones.

I just recently ran 21.6KM in the Black pair, I have had them for ages and their mileage atm is a staggering 693KM.

So we can pretty much throw out the theory that life expectancy is based on mileage.

At certain points in time I did fear that my new Adizero’s were also ready for the big track in the sky, as I would run for distances, stop for a sip of water, and then encounter pain in my left knee.

Twas a false alarm.

Next we have the ASICS, my first pair was the black pair (top left):

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So far I have done 660KM in them, and they were feeling great, except for the part where they started to come tear up on the sides where my pinky toe would be (wide feet, as you can see I have a special knot tying technique which makes a difference to a certain extent). I quick visit to the local cobbler and half a KD later, and the spread of the tear was stopped. However, it started to come apart from numerous other angles, signalling the supposed end of its life. I still use it on the treadmill when I am too lazy to run outside (which is rarely).

The new pair of ASICS is still going strong, also the same model.

So, unfortunately the only true way to test the integrity and stability of a running shoe is to TRY IT OUT. You will notice that your legs are beginning to ache quickly, and that is not a problem so long as you do not prolong your over-usage of the shoes.

Keep your running shoes on until YOU feel the pain, and once you do, first analyze whether the cause of the pain could have been any other factor other than the shoe. For example, it could be an underlying condition, it could be you mis-stepped or landed incorrectly. Once you cross out all other possible reasons for your pains, only then should you take the decision to retire a shoe.

And there you have it.

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