HOW TO: Make Your Shoes Go Further!

Get more kays for your bucks! – Runner’s World Editors


Image by James Garaghty

What can I do to extend the life of my running shoes?

Take good care of them. Don’t store shoes in direct sunlight during the summer or very cold areas during the winter, and don’t wear running shoes for other sports such as tennis, soccer or basketball.

After running in wet weather, be sure to dry your running shoes (including the insoles) thoroughly by placing them near a heat source. But don’t dry them in a tumble dryer!

Will my shoes last longer if I alternate two pairs?

Not really. Running shoes aren’t like your body; they don’t need rest days. Shoes are made of foam and rubber, and daily use doesn’t significantly affect their durability.

Two exceptions: if you run twice a day, or if you get your shoes wet frequently, then alternating them might be a good idea to let each pair dry out better.

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I got more than 800km out of one pair of shoes but only 600 out of another. What gives?

Different shoes are made from different materials. Some running shoes are more durable than others because they are made of more durable materials. The good news is that the various shoe manufacturers are continually improving the durability of their midsole rubber compounds and making them lighter, too.

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The two most important components of any shoe are the midsole and outsole.

Midsoles are made from either ethyl vinyl acetate (EVA) or polyurethane. EVA is used in most running shoes because it’s lighter and has a more cushioned feel, although polyurethane is denser and more durable than EVA. Different companies embed a variety of air bags, gels, plastic devices and viscous solution in their midsoles for extra cushioning or shock absorption; these can also affect midsole durability because they replace midsole foam.

Outsoles are made from either blown rubber or carbon rubber. Blown rubber is lighter, more cushiony and less durable than carbon rubber. Several shoes use blown rubber in the forefoot (for added cushioning) and carbon rubber in the high-wear areas of the heel (for better durability).

Is the shoe’s weight a factor in durability?

Definitely. Generally, a very light shoe is less durable than a heavier shoe. That’s one reason racing shoes are not nearly as durable as training shoes.

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Are there other factors to consider?

All the other factors are related to your individual running attributes and habits.

If you’re a big runner who trains primarily on roads, your shoe’s midsoles and outsoles won’t last as long as those of a light runner using the same shoe who trains primarily on grass and soft trails.

Similarly, the more you over-pronate (i.e. your feet roll too far inward upon impact), the more stress you put on the midsole and upper, and the quicker the shoes will break down.

How do I know when my shoes are worn out and should be replaced?

For the reasons mentioned above, it’s difficult to give an exact mileage guide. But there are some things you can do:

  • Press your finger into the midsole to see if it feels brittle or compressed;
  • Place your shoes on a table and check them for imbalances, such as worn areas or tilting to one side or the other;
  • Listen to your aches and pains – they often mean it’s time for a new pair of shoes.
  • Finally, it’s important to understand that midsoles usually deteriorate before outsoles. In other words, don’t stick with a pair of shoes just because the outsoles seem fine. If the midsoles are shot, it’s time for new shoes.

What else can I do?

Mileage isn’t everything, but some runners use their training logs to track how many kilometres they run in each pair of shoes they own. Other runners write the date of purchase somewhere on the shoe. That way, they know when several months have passed and it’s time to start thinking about a new pair.

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How many kilometres can I reasonably expect out of my running shoes?

Okay, you know we don’t want to answer that question because there are so many variables. But, if pushed, we’ll say you should get at least 550km from a solid training shoe, and you can reasonably expect another 150 to 200km.

You’ll probably get fewer from a lightweight trainer and far fewer from racing shoes. Some runners, particularly those who have efficient running form, get as much as 1100 to 1300km from their training shoes.

Ready for a new pair? Visit our Shoe Buyer’s Guide and find your fit!

Got something to say?

8 Responses to “HOW TO: Make Your Shoes Go Further!”

  1. Mandla Mhlutwa says:

    I weigh 82kg and do an average of 60km a week. My current pair of running shoes (Adidas Response Coushion 18) has 1235km and still going strong. They feel like they have another 200 – 300km left. They were on special, I bought them for R800. My previous pair Asics Nimbus 11 gave me 925km and I had paid R1300 for them, I was trying for at least 1000km but I couldn’t take the pain of worn-out shoes on my anlkes and knees.

    • Iano says:

      This topic always interests me. Speak to any running shoe salesman and they will tell you that 800km is the number.

      I recently put over 3000km on a pair of Adidas Supernova. I also put about 1500 km onto a pair of Asics Nimbus 9 including 2 Comrades before I started using them for trailrunning and another 500km including 3 Cranes this year.

      So if I were to listen to the salesman I should be about ready to toss the Adidas Kanadia trail shoes I bought last month for the Golden Gate – after 2 race, yeah sure…

    • Francois Britz says:

      Have a pair of Asics Nimbus 11, 2100km on it and still going strong. New Balance, 350km and worn out, Nike, 950km still good, so my obvious choice in future will be the Asics shoe!

    • John Child says:

      Here’s a good ad for Asics!

      I’ve had a pair of Asics DS racers (anti-pronation) for about 3 years! I’m a race walker & I must have done well over 3000km in them. I did over 700km in races in them in 2010, including 4 standard marathons & 3 ultras (Comrades, Oceans & 80km Big Walk). The heels have been repaired/built up twice. They need replacing but I’ve found no lightweight racer at a reasonable price to replace them.

    • daniel githinji says:

      hi,my name is daniel and ive just started running again at age 42, after a 10 year break.ive done the two oceans before and im looking foward to more and more races. but my predicament is running shoes, they are so expensive but a pair of asics has been pushing me for like 4years.and they are now really tired.any one out there with a decent pair that can be shared? i dont mind the condition as long as they are better than what i have. im originally from kenya and i m a good runner .long haul thanks kindly consider.

    • charmaine says:

      Add your Comment

  2. Johan says:

    Minimalist shoes give greater mileage than cushioned shoes since there is no midsole that can become worn.

  3. Isabella says:

    Nice blog, I love it. I Think this the important new for the new comers, This will help me to keep my shoes long lasting.

    Thank you

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