By in Health & Fitness

No, Virginia, 5 year old shoes are NOT 'still good'!

Good afternoon fitness fanatics! Here's a little question for you! How old are your shoes? How many of you said 5 years or more? How about 2 years? A year? Six months?

Now, how often do you wear those shoes? Do you wear them everywhere? Do your feet ever hurt? Are there holes in the mesh or shoe upper, or is the tread worn off?


Guess how old my shoes are? As someone who runs every day, I replace my shoes roughly 4 times a year. The thing is, running and cross training shoes break down and wear out over time, even if you THINK they look fine. It's not really about how the shoes look, it's about how much time you spend in them, ie the mileage you put on them from the time you take them out of the box until the time they go into the 'rainy day shoe pile' - what you throw on real quick to dash across the street to get the mail, or take out the trash, or take your dog to the park when you know it will be muddy.

Between research and experience, the average running shoe is good for about 300-500 miles, but it depends how efficient of a runner you are, to an extent your body size and weight, and the surfaces you run on most often. Larger, heavier runners who run more on trail or concrete vs smaller lighter runners who run on grass or roads will of course probably wear the shoe out quicker and be closer to that 300. I usually swap mine out around 400, so based on my current monthly mileage, it's about every other month right now. If you keep wearing worn out shoes because you think they still look or feel fine, it can lead to strains and injuries, shin splints, bruising, sometimes blisters if the inside is wearing out, etc. If the soles are wearing out, there is less grip and greater risk of tripping, slipping, and falling, as well as breakdown of the foam shock absorbers and cushion in the shoe.

It's also important to try to buy the right shoe for what you spend most of your time doing. Cross training shoes, usually called 'cross trainers' - are shoes you might want to wear for going to the gym, doing classes at the gym, and doing circuit or weights. These don't generally make good running shoes, as they tend to be heavier and more structured. There are specific 'running' shoes and also 'walking' shoes, which are much better options if run or walk a LOT, and especially important if you participate or compete in races.

Keep track of your mileage or estimate when you may need to start looking for new shoes based on how much you walk or run or EXPECT to walk or run. If you can, buy two pairs at a time, or purchase a pair when you find the shoes you like on sale in your size. I have several pairs in boxes right now since I go through them so quickly. There ARE some shoes that are designed for ultra running that you can often squeeze 700-1200 miles out of, I don't have a pair of them yet but I may be purchasing a pair in the near future.

I'm extremely sorry Virginia, yes there's a Santa Claus, no you probably shouldn't wear 5 year old shoes with 1300 miles on them to run that 5K next month.

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Feisty56 wrote on January 5, 2015, 5:27 PM

I found out the hard way that continuing to wear old shoes for walking just because they still look decent is not a good idea. I developed a painful corn. Those shoes were out! I won't make the same mistake twice. Thanks for this helpful advice.

bestwriter wrote on January 5, 2015, 6:56 PM

If one does not wear the right shoes while running it will do more harm than good. Tell us about the right type of shoes to wear while running or walking. emoticon :smile:

iRun wrote on January 5, 2015, 7:24 PM

You're very welcome! There were a lot of things I did not know when I started running, and I asked questions of veterans all the time. I am always willing to share my knowledge with others, about what NOT to do (because I did plenty of dumb things) as well as good things. Key thing here is I survived the dumb things I did, as do most people. It's just a little less bumpy path if you avoid the bumps lol.

nbaquero wrote on January 5, 2015, 11:35 PM

irun Thanks, yes as I said on my past comment, I got injured due to continuing to use the same running shoes for a little longer than needed. I was replacing my running shoes every 300 miles or so , but for a particular race, I decided to continue using my old shoes instead of trying out a new pair I had just bought. I got a PR, but injured myself. Hard lesson learned. I had to stop running shortly after that.

Wordsmith wrote on January 7, 2015, 1:55 AM

I am currently wearing sandals since my tennies wore out. I really need some nice new shoes just for walking.I don't care about impressing the local girls. I need something that will hold up to all my walking ventures.

iRun wrote on January 7, 2015, 6:58 PM

nbaquero , how are you feeling? If you replace your shoes and start slow, you should be able to get back to running. I suggested the Couch to 5K program to another person here, check that out (google) and see what you think. It's a very easy 8 week program to help you get started or restarted, and there's always an option to repeat a week if you don't feel ready to move forward to the next week. My husband has used it and he liked it.

iRun wrote on January 7, 2015, 7:00 PM

Aha. I suppose i need to write that article about how to choose shoes. As a runner girl, I often look at EVERYBODY'S shoes, but the most important part about shoe shopping is to find something that fits your feet, is comfortable, and is the right support for your activities. I have friends who have bought 'cute' shoes and then injured themselves, gotten blisters, etc. I just happen to be lucky that my shoes that I love also come in many cute colors!