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As a runner, you know that quality shoes are important, but how do you know when to replace your current pair? In this article, we'll cover all the tell-tale signs that your running shoes have seen better days, from visible damage to stability and tread issues. We'll also explain how worn out shoes can affect your performance and provide some tips for extending the life of your shoes. Read on for our complete guide!

1 of 11:
You’ve clocked 300–500 mi (480–800 km) in them.

  1. Comfort and support start going downhill at the 300-mile mark. After logging a few hundred miles, the mid-sole of your shoes—the cushioned part that absorbs shock—begins to break down. Poor shock absorption can cause joint pain and injury, so it's important to replace your shoes around this time.[1]
    • If you run 10 mi (16 km) per week, it'll take you about 8 months to hit 300 mi (480 km). If you run 20 mi (32 km) (or more) per week, replace your shoes every 4-6 months.
    • The soles of your shoes may look fine, but mid-sole damage isn’t always visible to the naked eye.
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2 of 11:
You’ve had the shoes for over a year.

3 of 11:
The tread on the bottom is worn smooth.

  1. Worn tread can cause you to lose your footing. The bottom tread is the most rugged part of running shoes, so if yours looks worn smooth, it’s time to retire your shoes. Good tread grips the ground and absorbs shock, so it’s crucial to your performance and safety as a runner.[3]
    • If you’re experiencing sore or tight feet for the first time as a runner, worn out tread is likely the issue.
    • When you're buying new running shoes, consider your specific needs. For example, if you run cross-country on tough terrain, quality tread is crucial. If you struggle with knee or hip pain, go with well-cushioned shoes that absorb shock better.[4]
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6 of 11:
The sides and uppers look ragged.

  1. Visible damage is more than an aesthetic issue—it affects performance. If you’re the no-frills type, replacing running shoes because they don’t look perfect on the outside may sound ridiculous. Running shoes are made of super durable materials, though! If the exterior looks rough, there’s probably more damage than meets the eye.[7]
    • For example, if exterior stitches are fraying, the shoes will feel loose and provide less support than they used to.
    • It’s a good idea to start checking your shoes for visible wear at the 6-month mark (especially if you wear them for activities other than running).

8 of 11:
You feel unusual joint or muscle pain.

  1. Post-run muscle fatigue, shin splints, and joint pain are all red flags. Some soreness is to be expected, especially after an intense or long-distance run! But if you feel unusually sore after jogging your normal route and you’ve had your current pair of running shoes for a while, worn out cushioning is probably to blame for your aches and pains.[9]
    • This is especially true if the pain is sudden and you can feel it on both sides of your body (for example, both knees hurt instead of just one of them).
    • To test the theory, switch to another pair of sneakers and hit the trail. If you don't feel the same aches and pains, your shoes were causing the problem.

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      About This Article

      Co-authored by:
      wikiHow Staff Writer
      This article was co-authored by wikiHow staff writer, Amber Crain. Amber Crain has been a member of wikiHow’s writing staff for the last six years. She graduated from the University of Houston where she majored in Classical Studies and minored in Painting. Before coming to wikiHow, she worked in a variety of industries including marketing, education, and music journalism. She's been a radio DJ for 10+ years and currently DJs a biweekly music program on the award-winning internet radio station DKFM. Her work at wikiHow supports her lifelong passion for learning and her belief that knowledge belongs to anyone who desires to seek it. This article has been viewed 1,966 times.
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      Co-authors: 4
      Updated: June 14, 2022
      Views: 1,966
      Categories: Running
      Thanks to all authors for creating a page that has been read 1,966 times.

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