When should I change my running shoes?

I was pondering this one the other day.
With so many people constantly pounding the streets/fells/treadmills, there is a massive market for running shoes. However, they are rather expensive, so when you have a pair of shoes you naturally want them to last for as long as feasably possible. Once their running days are over, you may use them as a pair of slippers, a trophy or something to keep handy in order to throw at next doors cat.

The question is when is a good time to buy a new pair? How long can I continue wearing these bashed up old shoes- they feel comfortable, so therefore they can’t be too bad, right?

It has been said by some people, (and a lot of shoe companies, who stand to make a fair old whack from it), that you should have a general rotation of 3 pairs of shoes, an old pair, which are beginning to wear out, a middling pair which have been broken in, and a pretty much brand new pair, which you are in the process of breaking in. The advantage of this is you don’t continually trash one pair into the ground, gradually destroying any semblance of support it might once have had and then buy a brand new pair of trainers which have a level of support/cushioning etc. which you then have to get used to all over again. Instead, you have a constant rotation of old and new shoes so that you never have a massive step from one type of shoe to another.

This is really good if
a) you always use the same shoes and
b) you have a lot of money

I don’t think I’ve ever actually bought the same shoes time and again, mainly because I never used to run enough to wear out a pair before some snazzy new thing came out that I wanted to try- and by the time I wore them out, again, there was some brand new “tech” that was innovative, and again, I’d buy those shoes.

Notice that I have just been talking about “cushioning” and “support”. A lot of Barefoot runners will be sitting there sneering saying, well, my shoes don’t have any cushioning OR support. That all comes from my foot and the way in which I run.
Well. inov8 X-talons are pretty close to minimalist shoes, and when they look like this….
its about time to replace them.

Lets have a closer look at those shoes.

I asked the runner to stand evenly with both feet shoulder width apart. Obviously the left foot is a bit worse than the right- the grip isn’t being utilised fully, and the inov8 symbol certainly isnt pointing straight up and down the shoe. You might also notice all the wrinkles (in the shoe, not the legs), where long term, some might say excessive use has slowly deformed the shoe into its current state.
I’m not saying this runner shouldn’t use Inov8s because they don’t correct his gait issues, I’m simply drawing attention to the fact that even “barefoot” or “low profile” shoes, also have a life span and need to be replaced and that isn’t necessarily to do with when the grip wears out.

Take a quick look at a non-destroyed pair of inov8s look- (they’ve been worn, but not worn out)

Take note of the way an inov8 shoe looks from the back when it isn’t completely destroyed. The foot symbol on the back of the shoe points straight up. The grips are all touching the floor. It is a stable platform on which your foot sits. The platform is flexible and your foot controls it in an intuitive way- which makes it more like barefoot running than “shod” running, however, as you run in them, be aware that if you have bad biomechanics, you will wear the shoe out faster.

Have a look at your shoes and ask yourself if they are still providing a decent platform for your feet. Yes, new shoes are expensive, but so is a knee/ankle op when things go wrong and you get an overuse injury from bad biomechanics… and if you say- ah well- I can wait for the op on the NHS, think about the long months during which you won’t be able to run because you’ve screwed up your knee. Surely thats worth looking at how good/bad your shoes are, and forking out for a replacement if necessary.

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