Every experienced runner understands that running shoes are the most important items of running gear that he or she owns. Yet many runners have only a vague idea of how long they need to break in a new pair of shoes, or how long to run in them before replacement is needed. This article will give you an idea of how to approach these topics.

Running Shoe Break In

Every new pair of running shoes requires a proper break-in period, so please do NOT wear your brand new running shoes for that next big race! Blisters, sore feet, and possible foot damage are not the trophies you want to receive at the finish line.

Breaking In At The Beach

Andre Kaokane of Cross Country Running Shoes 101 says that you should run in your new shoes for about 160 km (100 miles) to break them in properly. At first, you should just wear the shoes for shorter distances, not for your long distance workouts or races. That means, of course, that you have to buy the new shoes well before the old ones need to be replaced. You need both pairs, so that you have enough time to break in the new ones, while still doing your long distance workouts in the old ones. Then after the break-in period is done, race away!

Regular Replacement

Not even the best running shoes in the world last forever. They do their job by using cushioning material to absorb the shock impact of your feet hitting the ground. The running shoe cushioning technology protects you by absorbing the shock and distributing it more evenly across your whole foot. But eventually, the cushioning material will break down and no longer be effective in protecting you. That's the time that replacement is needed.

But how do you tell when the right time has come? You could inspect the tread pattern on the outsole, or examine the creasing on the EVA foam, or simply notice when the shoe seems to "give" too easily and feels like it lacks support. But there is no perfect formula to determine when a running shoe must be replaced.

A general rule of thumb states that you should replace your running shoes every 800 km (500 miles) or so, but this is just an average distance. Runners with lighter body frames will often see a good pair of shoes last for 1300 km (800 miles). But runners with larger frames break down their shoes more quickly, and might only be able to use them for 550 km (350 miles) before replacement is required. It all depends on the size of the runner and the quality of the shoes.

Don't Delay

If you delay too long in replacing a worn-out shoe, you run a greater risk for developing a stress impact injury to your feet or legs. It's safer, and cheaper in the long run, to avoid those doctor bills and replace the shoe when the time has come. And remember, you don't need to throw the old shoes away. You can still get plenty of use from them for any non-running activity, such as cycling or walking.