There is a standard rule of thumb that approximately 800km of use is the life span of a running shoe. This would relate to a high mileage training shoe, not a lighter race day shoe. It is also worth noting that those 800km of use can be an accumulation of walking and running. These kilometers add up quickly for people who regularly run and also those who wear running shoes on a day-to-day basis. A recreational runner who runs on average 25 – 30km’s a week will therefore need to update their shoes every 6 – 8 months.
Although the looks and uppers of a running shoe are the first part of the shoe to look dated, it is the midsole materials, cushioning and support systems, and the outsole tread of the shoe that are most effected by this regular use.
The support and cushioning compress over time
Outsole tread will eventually begin to wear unevenly
At Footpro we match running shoes to foot types through the use of treadmill video analysis, and over time we can see that the support and cushioning properties of each shoe change and the midsole materials stop rebounding as they once did. The tread also begins to wear unevenly and the general functionality of the shoe evolves into something slightly different to what it was when it was new.
As a runner, it is often difficult to tell how far gone a pair of running shoes is unless you keep track of your usage. We wouldn’t expect everyone to keep a tally of your kilometers from week to week, although we know a few who do. A simple alternative is to note the exact purchase date and reflect on how far you have run each month. That way, you will get a pretty good gauge for overall usage in kilometers and know to retire them around the 800km mark.
Unfortunately the other alternative is to push them past their use by date, placing yourself at risk of an injury because the shoes functionality has evolved into something different to when they were new and perfectly matched to foot type and running style.