We’re going to share some tips with you on how to recognise the signs of wear in your running shoes. We’ll also break down the different aspects that can affect the ‘life’ of your running shoes.
Why change running shoes at all?
New running shoes perform better. You might not have broken them in yet, but the cushioning is at its best and the outsole offers its best grip. With time, the cushioning and the grip deteriorate, negatively affecting your run.
Weaker cushioning puts more pressure on the joints while you run, which can lead to ankle, knee and/or hip injuries. Lessened grip means that your push-off from the ground won’t be as powerful as it could be. In a nutshell: your run will be less efficient and less dynamic. Apart from that, you’re more likely to slip on wet surfaces - health and safety come first.
Of course, deterioration doesn’t happen overnight and you don’t need to buy new running shoes every 2 weeks. We’re going to talk you through the most obvious signs of wear, so you know when your running shoes have reached the end of their usable life and need replacing.
First signs of wear in running shoes
The easiest way to spot wear is by looking at the tread on your running shoe’s outsole. The ball of the foot and heel should leave the deepest footprint, as this is where the most pressure is exerted. Look at the underside of your shoes and check if, like a tyre, the tread is still there. Has the tread faded a lot? Is the outsole completely smooth? If this is the case, you need new running shoes.
Another sign of wear is on the midsole. Running shoe midsoles are usually made of a foam mix that cushions and returns energy. Like all cushioning materials, midsoles eventually stop springing back into their original shape and you stop benefitting from the cushioning.
If this has happened to your shoes, you’ll see little rips, ceases or folds in the midsole (seen from the outside). This is yet another clear sign that your running shoes are fast approaching the end of their usable life.
Our next tip would be to look at the upper material. In running shoes, this is usually made of light mesh or a similar material. If there are bobbles or even holes in the upper, you definitely need to consider buying new running shoes, as the upper serves to keep your foot in place within the shoe. If it can’t fulfil its function, you run the risk of injuring yourself.
Yet another thing you can do is put on the shoe, wiggle your toes and move your foot around, putting pressure on different parts of it to determine whether the shoe still fits like it used to. You’ll soon be able to feel any bumps in the sole. One thing is for certain: you shouldn’t feel any discomfort in your shoe whatsoever. If you do, then your shoes may be ready for the bin.
What influences the shelf life of running shoes?
As already mentioned, there’s no ‘one-size-fits-all’ answer when it comes to determining whether your running shoes are worn or not, but on the whole, most running shoes should be able to cover between 600 and 1000 k throughout their usable life. However, there are some aspects that can influence how long running shoes last.
Do you run in the city, on grassy paths or in the woods? Running on tarmac puts more of a strain on the outsole of your shoes, wearing them down faster than if you run on softer terrain. Why not mix it up a bit and go for a run in the park now and again instead of always running on the pavement?
Another factor to take into account is your weight. A heavier runner will wear down running shoes faster than a lighter one. Unfortunately, this isn’t something you can change as easily as your running route. ;-)
Your personal running style is yet another aspect that can influence how long your running shoes last. If you place a lot of your weight on a single part of your foot, it’s logical that the corresponding part of the shoe should wear down faster. You can spot this easily by taking a look at your shoes. Sometimes it’s enough to just place your shoes on an even surface to check if the sole is still even.
The shoes themselves can be another criterium to take into account when estimating usable life. Are they light competition shoes or thickly cushioned running shoes? Usually, competition shoes wear down faster than sturdy training shoes because of their different constructions. The quality of the running shoes is also a deciding factor. High-quality shoes are much more likely to last longer than low-quality ones. The lesson: avoid false economy.
Tips for you and for taking care of your running shoes
If you want to keep an eye on how long certain running shoes have lasted you, we recommend keeping a running diary. There’s no need for expense here; running apps like Runkeeper give you the option of assigning a certain pair of shoes to every run. This means that you don’t need a new routine and you can have a simple overview of your running shoes by using your tracking app. It’ll be easy to know which pairs of shoes have lasted the longest and exactly how many kilometres they’ve covered.
Apart from that, it’s a good idea to have several pairs of running shoes, so you can swap between them. Our partner ASICS also recommends that you “mix up your run”. By experiencing different cushionings and fits, your feet will be challenged in different ways during every single run. This means that you’ll even train the smallest muscles in your feet. Another plus is that your feet won’t get used to a particular shoe. From a financial perspective, three pairs of shoes last three times longer than one pair, so you don’t need to buy shoes as often - benefits all round.
One final tip we have for you is to take care of your running shoes. Clean off mud, grass and other kinds of dirt with a brush or by banging the soles of your shoes together. You can also clean the upper with lukewarm water and a brush. Cleaning your shoes regularly will help them get back to their original shape and condition.
Finding the perfect pair of replacement running shoes
If you’ve got a favourite pair of shoes, you’re obviously going to run in them more often and only switch out when you really have to. When this is the case, some brands, like ASICS, will help you find a new running shoe. ASICS shoe models come with version numbers. So, if you’ve always loved running in ASICS Nimbus 18, then you should check out the ASICS Nimbus 20 - they both have the same construction, but the 20 has a few new features.
We recommend that you start looking for a new pair of running shoes once your current ones have covered around 400 k. You can carry on running with your current pair and break in your new model at the same time. Looking for new running shoes right now? You’re in luck: the ASICS Roadhawk FF 2 is currently in our selection.
The ASICS Roadhawk FF 2
The Roadhawk is one of ASICS’ youngest models, but it has already received an update (as you can tell by the version number 2 in the name). The FF stands for ‘FlyteFoam’, a particularly light yet robust ASICS midsole.
The ASICS Roadhawk FF 2 is the first shoe to come with new FlyteFoam Propel material spanning the entire length of the shoe. This material delivers reliable cushioning, is extremely light and returns a lot of energy back to the foot.
The outsole is made of ASICS AHAR+ material, which slows down outsole degeneration. The ASICS High Abrasion Resistant Rubber consists of a very sturdy rubber blend. The ‘+’ in the name refers to the additional Kevlar reinforcements inside the rubber. What this means for you is an outsole that’s extremely robust and guarded against wear and tear.
This shoe comes with a light, seamless mesh upper equipped with breathable perforations - these draw warm air out of the shoe, so you can enjoy a cooler run. Apart from its cool technologies, the ASICS Roadhawk FF 2 also looks great. As is often the case with modern running shoes, this model doubles up as the perfect everyday trainer.