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Replacing running shoes
Old 04-06-2014, 12:02 PM   #1
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Replacing running shoes

Do we need to change shoes used for running or walking after 6 months or 300 miles? I've read this and seen frequent mentions, and also heard it from a triathlete and marathon running relative. If not replaced in a timely manner scary things are supposed to happen.

It seems kind of wasteful, and I can't find any reliable sources of studies done. The shoes I use now have a lot of miles, I'm adding >1K per year, can't find a replacement pair to fit my misshapen feet, and wonder what others do. Lots of runners here, so I ask is this a clever marketing ploy by shoe manufacturers or a sound practice for healthy feet?
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Old 04-06-2014, 12:13 PM   #2
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so I ask is this a clever marketing ploy by shoe manufacturers or a sound practice for healthy feet?
I suspect it's a little bit of both. I just picked up a new pair of ASICS after 2 years on my old pair. They were still comfortable, but definitely long in the tooth.

After waiting that long between pairs, I did notice a drastic change in the difference between how the shoes felt on my feet. If I had replaced the older pair at 300 miles, the difference would hardly be noticeable. In that sense, it could be a good thing to replace them earlier as big changes to the shoe platform could lead to small or large foot/shin injuries. I definitely see that potential with my new pair.
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Old 04-06-2014, 12:14 PM   #3
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I am strictly a walker, no running, and I don't walk as much as I should either. I am overweight with problem feet so I wear high end New Balance running shoes that work for my feet. I normally replace them every 18 months and that works for me.

Recently I saw my shoes on sale for 57% of their usual astronomical cost so I picked up another pair after only a year. Honestly I can't tell the difference between these two pairs yet, even when I examine the bottom of the shoe. They feel just the same. I have both pairs side by side and can't tell. This is a problem because I thought I'd wear out the old pair first and then switch, but now I don't see how that is going to happen. Wait! Hold the presses! I just tried to photograph the bottoms of both, to illustrate this, and noticed a difference (part of the tread is broken off, though not especially worn, on the older shoes). Maybe it IS a good idea to replace them more often.

Anyway, I think that for a runner or more active walker, every 6 months is probably a good idea. The expense and hassle are well worth it to avoid even the slightest chance of developing foot problems, one of the most miserable conditions one can have IMO.
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Old 04-06-2014, 12:25 PM   #4
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I've seen advice to get new shoes every 6 months. I get new ones after running 400 miles, which takes me about 6 months. I went to a running store a few years ago, and after analyzing me in several different shoes, they recommended Brooks Ghost. I've been running in these ever since. It's a good idea to get a show fitting from a good running store.
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Old 04-06-2014, 12:25 PM   #5
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You need to change running shoes when the sole dictates. I am well over 6 months and 300 miles on my current (zero-drop, zero-cushion) New Balance Course shoes, but my feet and lower legs are accustomed to the pounding.

When you start to experience unusual soreness in your joints, that's a good time to change. It usually means the sole and support to which you're accustomed in the shoe is no longer there, and your mechanics are screwy. Sometimes this happens before 6 months... I just don't think there's a hard and fast rule that everyone should follow, but 300 miles is a little on the low end, IMO only.
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Old 04-06-2014, 01:23 PM   #6
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I don't know the answer. Here is an article talking about the various factors, which does not unfortunately come to any clear conclusion:

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/0...ype=blogs&_r=0

This article is more practical and gives various ways to assess whether shoes need to be replaced:

When to Replace Worn Running Shoes - Do You Know When to Replace Worn Running Shoes

And, for those like me, who walk and don't run, this is specifically about walking shoes:

When to Replace Your Walking Shoes
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Old 04-06-2014, 01:30 PM   #7
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I think as long as the shoes are in good condition and you feet don't hurt, you don't need to replace them. But I know from experience that the moment you feet start to hurt, then replace them. I kept some shoes too long a few years ago and it took months for the pain to completely go away, even after I wore new shoes.
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Old 04-06-2014, 01:35 PM   #8
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I'm a runner, and have been for 40 years. I just let my feet tell me when to get new shoes. When I start feeling the pounding on a longer run, that means the cushioning in the shoe has broken down enough that it needs to be replaced.

Modern running (and walking) shoes are made with multiple layers of cushioning, each with its own purpose. Most of those layers begin deteriorating in their cushioning capability as soon as they leave the factory, but they deteriorate at very different rates, and there is no way you can tell by looking at them, or even by how long you've used them.

But your feet can tell, and will let you know.

I keep track of the miles on my current running shoes, and I normally find myself replacing them in the 300-400 mile range. Sometimes more, and occasionally with as little as 200 miles. But I don't use that mileage as a replacement predictor -- it's strictly an item of curiosity.
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Old 04-06-2014, 01:51 PM   #9
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I'm a walker (~2 miles/day) and notice a big difference between models of shoes (even the same brand) as to how long they last. I've worn Asics for several years, some a relatively "stiff" model but more recently a more "soft" model. The soles on the new model are wearing out in about 4 months, which is less than 200 miles. I do walk on asphalt pavement and at a pretty good clip (3.7 mph), but I'm not a heavy person.

A little annoying to replace them so often, but I like the fit and comfort and can just order another pair of the same model from Amazon when needed, so I probably will stick with them (until of course the model changes...). Which reminds me, I need to find a new brand of lipstick as Clinque discontinued the Almost Lipstick I love in all but one (ugly) color. Sigh.
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Old 04-06-2014, 02:12 PM   #10
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I replace mine every 300-400 miles. At that point, I feel a lot more pounding because the shoes have started to break down, and the wear is obvious looking at the bottoms. I think smaller runners and runners who stay mostly on trails rather than pavement can get more miles out of a pair. Also, running in sloppy conditions (I run outside in winter, and often run in the rain) will contribute to the shoes wearing out.
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Old 04-06-2014, 02:18 PM   #11
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500 miles is what I've generally heard, though I can see 300 for a less-cushioned pair. The cushioning breaks down inside, and the sole can wear down, which can cause problems anywhere from the feet, ankles, knees, hips and/or back. The problem with using how you feel as a guide is that changes come on slowly and you may gradually feel worse each day until it gets really bad, but by all means if you are developing problems at 250-300 miles, replacing shoes is the first fix to try.

I also like to not run in the same shoes 2 days in a row to let the cushioning recover, though walking a couple miles every day is probably ok. One nice thing about the 2 pair of shoes thing is that if I stagger them, and the new shoes feel much better than the old, that tells me the old ones need to go.

If you have trouble keeping track of mileage, a friend of mine told me about using a sharpie to mark every 5 miles on the side of his shoes, and when he gets to 20 sets of 5 marks he's got 500 miles. This helps people like us who run long some days and short other days. If you do 2 miles a day, make a mark for each day and replace after 50 sets of 5 marks. Or use a log.

Stick with shoes that work for you, but if you are having trouble with your shoes, go to a real running store and have a knowledgeable sales person help you pick out the right pair. There are different shoes for whether or not you over-pronate, plus a few other factors. The sales person should take a look at your current shoes that have been well-used (to see where the wear pattern is), and should watch you run or walk to see what you need. If they don't do that, go elsewhere because the advice is nothing but a guess. Shoes good for them or me may be wrong for you.
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Old 04-06-2014, 02:20 PM   #12
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I never replace my shoes based on their age. I go solely by feel and mileage. I have a heavy gait, and a bad back, so feel takes precedence over mileage.
In my heyday, I would retire a pair of shoes by 400 miles even if they still felt fine. Alas, my heyday is long gone and I find I am retiring a pair of shoes by 325 miles or so.

I have a wide foot and it is difficult to find comfortable running shoes. So when I find a good pair I buy several and rotate my use of them. Consequently, I currently have 4 pair, different mileages on them, with the oldest probably 3 years old. I don't feel the oldest any differently than the newest.
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Old 04-06-2014, 02:24 PM   #13
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I let my joints tell me when it is time for a new pair. I start getting an ache in my right knee and over the years, I've learned that it is from a worn out shoe. For me, it is the mid-sole that loses its shock absorption because the soles look just fine.
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Old 04-06-2014, 02:33 PM   #14
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I do most of my running/walking on a treadmill so the soles don't tend to wear as much as the street. I find that the tops of my shoes (pressure points?) start to wear and begin to cause pain. I generally look for sales on shoes before I need replacement and always have a new pair in the closet waiting for action.
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Old 04-06-2014, 02:34 PM   #15
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Looks like I need to start looking for new shoes. I hate that, so hard to find comfortable shoes.
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Old 04-06-2014, 03:59 PM   #16
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MichaelB, there is nothing like a really good running store with knowledgable staff to help you find the best kind of shoe for you.

Here's one place to start looking:
The 50 Best Running Stores In America 2013
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Old 04-06-2014, 04:07 PM   #17
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When I start to feel shin splints, I know it's time to get new running shoes.
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Old 04-06-2014, 04:13 PM   #18
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Like many here, I go by feel and mileage. Typically I'll get about 250 to 400 road miles. I err on the side of caution though. I figure over a lifetime I'd rather blow an extra $3,000 on running shoes than dealing with joint pain and knee surgery in my later years.
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Old 04-06-2014, 04:43 PM   #19
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[....]I err on the side of caution though. I figure over a lifetime I'd rather blow an extra $3,000 on running shoes than dealing with joint pain and knee surgery in my later years.
EXACTLY! Although I include my running shoes in my Clothing category, not Medical Expenses, still, I regard good shoes not as a luxury, but as a medical necessity. This has become much more important to me after age 50 than it was during my first half century.

And MichaelB, if you have a good, comfortable shoe, you are in good shape and you shouldn't have too much trouble finding it or something like it. Once you find a shoe that works for you, it's worth the extra effort and expense to find that same shoe or as close to it as is presently being manufactured by the same manufacturer.
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Old 04-06-2014, 06:00 PM   #20
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I am strictly a walker, no running, and I don't walk as much as I should either. I am overweight with problem feet so I wear high end New Balance running shoes that work for my feet. I normally replace them every 18 months and that works for me.

Recently I saw my shoes on sale for 57% of their usual astronomical cost so I picked up another pair after only a year. Honestly I can't tell the difference between these two pairs yet, even when I examine the bottom of the shoe. They feel just the same. I have both pairs side by side and can't tell. This is a problem because I thought I'd wear out the old pair first and then switch, but now I don't see how that is going to happen. Wait! Hold the presses! I just tried to photograph the bottoms of both, to illustrate this, and noticed a difference (part of the tread is broken off, though not especially worn, on the older shoes). Maybe it IS a good idea to replace them more often.

Anyway, I think that for a runner or more active walker, every 6 months is probably a good idea. The expense and hassle are well worth it to avoid even the slightest chance of developing foot problems, one of the most miserable conditions one can have IMO.
How about those barefoot runners in parts of the world where they can't afford shoes or tribal people chasing cattle all day with bare feet. Weren't feet adapted for walking long distances? Maybe wearing these high end shoes is the problem, just curious.
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