In general your running shoes should last 500 miles or two years, whichever comes first, though there are a few other factors which will affect how long your MODEL shoe will last for YOU.
The Materials Used in the Shoe
Different shoes are made from different materials. Some running shoes are more durable than others because they are made of more durable materials.
The shoe midsole can be made from either ethyl vinyl acetate (EVA) or polyurethane. EVA is used in most running shoes because it’s lighter and has a more cushioned feel than polyurethane. But polyurethane is denser and more durable than EVA. As a result heavier shoes tend to be made from more durable materials.
Different brands of running shoes use a variety of air bags, gels, plastic devices and viscous solution in their midsoles to aid cushioning and stability. These can also affect midsole durability because they replace midsole foam.
Outsoles are made from either blown rubber or carbon rubber. Blown rubber is lighter, more cushiony and less durable than carbon rubber. Several shoes use blown rubber in the forefoot (for added cushioning) and carbon rubber in the high-wear areas of the heel (for better durability). Pressing on different areas of the sole of your running shoe is a way to test how hard or cushioned the areas are, the harder the sole the more durable.
A polyurethane midsole and a carbon-rubber outsole will be the most durable, though the compromise is lower cushioning and extra weight.
Will a light performance, or racing shoe, last fewer miles than my usual training shoe?
Yes, generally a very light shoe (less than 300g) is for racing or fast training sessions, and is less durable than heavier normal training shoes.
Will I make an impact on the shoes durability?
If you’re a bigger or heavier runner, generally your shoe’s midsole cushioning won’t last as long as those of a light runner using the same shoe. As with every rule there are exceptions, some lighter runners can land heavily, and some heavy runners can land with a lighter tread, listen to how loud a noise you make when running in comparison to other runners for an indication of how heavily you land.
Will running off-road mean my shoes will last longer?
If you’re running on grass and soft trails your shoes will last longer than hitting hard roads for the same miles. Hard compact or rocky / stony trails will wear your shoes more than soft trails, and will be similar to running on roads.
If I overpronate (roll in at the ankles) will my shoes wear out faster?
If your running shoes are supportive shoes, to support your overpronation, your running style will put stress on the midsole support and the upper parts of the shoe. As you need support for your running style, it is important to change your shoes as soon they show signs of being worn out.
How do I know when my shoes are worn out and should be replaced?
As a general guide, shoes last 500 miles or 2 years, with consideration given to where you run, your individual factors, and the durability of the shoe materials.
If you’re a light runner, with minimal overpronation, running on grass, soft trails or a treadmill, you’ll get the most mileage out of your shoes. Bear in mind the materials of the shoe, a lighter more cushioned shoe suited to lighter runners is less durable than a heavier more ‘robust’ shoe.
There are a few checks to suggest your shoes are worn:
- stick your finger into the midsole to see if it feels brittle or compressed
- place your shoes on a table and check them for imbalances, such as worn areas or tilting to one side
- listen to your aches and pains, they often mean it’s time for a new pair of shoes.
The midsole cushioning and support usually deteriorate before the outersoles. This is especially true for shoes worn mainly on a treadmill, as the outer of the shoe will stay clean and looking less worn. If the midsole cushioning or support is worn, it’s time for new shoes.