How to know if your shoes are worn out

How do you know if it’s time to buy new running shoes? To most people, the time to buy new shoes is when there is a festive sale!

Anyway, the more professional way of knowing, is by checking the condition of your shoes. If your shoes are worn out, then it’s time to get new ones. Therefore the real question is, how do you know if your shoes are worn out?

Let me give you an example, using Brooks Beast. A same model comparison will show you very clearly what it means when a shoe is “worn out”.

Refer to the picture below. On the left, you see an old Beast, from last year’s generation. On the right, you’re looking at a relatively new Beast, which is from this year’s generation.

Old beast on the left, new Beast on the right

Let’s examine the sole of a relatively new Beast. It has already gone through a mileage of 238 km.

Shoe sole, in relatively new condition.

Notice that the sole’s threads are still intact, with each blue stud clearly pronounced.

Now, take a look at a worn out Beast…

Shoe sole, already worn out.

With a recorded mileage of 1256 km, the midfoot area of the sole is gone. Notice that the blue studs are smoothened out.

When your shoe’s studs are already missing or totally smooth, then it’s time to get a new pair of shoes. You can safely say that your shoes are “technically worn out”.

It is similar to car tyres. When the threads of the tyre are no longer visible, or only faintly visible, you know  for certain that it’s time for a tyre change. The same it is for shoes.

There is a reason why running shoes are made with pronounced studs at the sole. Those studs decrease the contact of your foot’s surface area to the ground (more studs, smaller surface area touching the ground). This gives rise to better energy returns (feeling “bouncy” at every foot strike), less friction on the ground, and less heat.

When those studs wear off, you will have a smooth surface on the sole. Now, your sole has a bigger surface area to have contact with the ground (less studs, smoother and bigger surface area touching the ground). This will result in bad energy returns (feeling the stiff, hard ground at every foot strike), more friction on the ground, and more heat.

Usually, if you are accustomed to distance running, you can feel your shoes wearing out without having to check the sole. When your knees and ankles start to feel the punishment of your long runs, and your joints feel the ache before your muscles do, you know something is wrong. It’s not you. It’s not your lack of training. It’s not your lack of stamina. It’s your shoe.

Flip your shoe over, and look at the sole. More often than not, you’re probably right.

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