Maybe It’s Time for a New Pair of Running Shoes?

Feet are a runner’s best friend.  I was going to say shoes, but know that a lot of people don’t run in shoes these days.  Plus, if there’s something wrong with your feet, chances are it will affect how you run.  Common sense, right?

When I first started running I was told that I needed a new pair of shoes every 500 miles.  This sounded good to me, and I’m not one to argue about having to buy a new pair of shoes, so I started tracking my shoe mileage.  A few years later, when I had some minor foot issue, everyone told me that 500 miles was too much, that I needed a new pair every 300 miles.  This sounded even better, and I religiously started getting new shoes once I hit the 300 mile mark.

Michael doing his best Captain Jack on top of a mountain in Jackson Hole

Then I met Michael.

Michael tends to not believe anything anyone tells him at face value.  Anytime he hears the word “should” he pretty much goes out of his way to do the opposite.

This should be evident by looking at his running shoes.

Neither one of us is sure how long he’s owned this pair of running shoes.  There was another pair before these that he bought when we first met, but they have long since bit the dust.  The pictured pair have been around a long time.  Obviously.

Granted, Michael doesn’t run long distances.  A former triathlete and half Ironman, he doesn’t enjoy running long like I do.  He tends to run 3-6 miles here and there, whenever he feels like it, and he’s happy with that.

I’ve also always read that you never wear your running shoes for anything but running, and you need to let them “rest” for a day to let the cushioning go back to its optimal shape.  Which means you should have two pairs of shoes and alternate them.  Michael has one pair of running shoes and wears them for just about everything but work.  In addition to running in them, he walks the dogs, works in the garden, mows the grass, AND plays touch rugby every Sunday morning in them.

In essence, he’s broken every shoe rule you can break in those shoes.

When I switched over to wearing Nike Frees two years ago, I wondered if the old 300 mile rule applied to this type of shoe as well.  They are decidedly more minimal than the Asics I used to wear, and I suspect they only need to be changed when the soles really start to wear down.  I generally tend to change them anyway around 350-400 miles or so, and haven’t noticed any difference or problems.

All of this makes me wonder if the 300 mile rule is a bunch of hooey?  Is this merely an arbitrary number the shoe manufacturers have come up with to convince us it’s time to peel off the bills, or do injuries increase with more mileage on the shoes?

As for Michael, we finally got him a bright and shiny new pair of shoes this week.  Let’s see how long it takes before they look like the old pair.


  1. michelle

    I just go by feel most of the time. My current pair has about 160 on them, another pair I use for shorter runs (3-5mi runs) has about 320 on them. Another pair just felt so flat with no support after 305 miles so I retired those.

  2. NumberzRunner

    Wow. I never thought to second-guess all those “guidelines” for replacing running shoes. I seem to follow them all though: I just use my running shoes for running, I do tend to replace them every 350-400 miles, etc.

    Because I am a heal striker, I notice that my shoes and orthotics tend to be broken down and sink way down into my shoes long before the soles and outer fabric ever come close to breaking down. In essence, they break down from teh inside out, not the outside in. When this happens (generally around 300 miles or so), I start thinking about new shoes again…

    I was surprised by one thing: I’d never heard of having two pairs of shoes and rotating them so that they have enough time to return to form between runs. Interesting.

    • Run Nature

      Most of my running friends religiously change out their shoes every 300 miles. Since there’s no gel cushioning in the Nike Frees, or any of the bells and whistles like with more supportive shoes, I can wear them longer. I do always rotate two pairs of shoes, and have done so for years. Before I switched over to the Frees, I also used to wear different brands and types of shoes, i.e. supportive and neutral, and rotate through those as well. I never noticed it making any difference, however, and now just wear the one brand (except for wearing the minimalist shoes when I’m not training for anything–which is never).

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