This is a toughie and varies depending on what activity you are doing, how often and at what intensity. Honestly I don’t have an exact answer for you, but here are some things to consider when deciding if your shoes are in need of replacing:
- In general – if you are a somewhat active person (running/walking 3-4 times a week; lower mileage) your running/walking/cross-training shoes should be replaces at least a couple times a year.
- If you are an avid runner or walker (exercise more than 4 times a week) you might need to replace them every 3-4 months.
- If you are training for a tri-athlon, half or full marathon you will probably need to replace them every 2-3 months.
- Check the tread on your shoes: notice when the tread begins to become worn – this is usually a good sign that your shoes need replacing. You also want to notice any odd patterns of wear (excessive wear on the heal, or one side of the shoe could be an indication of a gait issue such as pronation or supination; these conditions can cause knee, IT Band and Hip issues).
- If you know that you are a heavy stepper – either in the toe or heel – then you might consider replacing your shoes more often knowing that you are harder on them.
- If possible, when you find a shoe that you really like, purchase 2 pairs and alternate wearing them. This allows for the shoes to air out and dry between workouts as well as ‘recover’ from the most recent exercise.
- If you are currently losing weight you might find that your shoe size or width will decrease which means you will need to replace your shoes for proper fit even if they are not worn out.
- Make a note of when you started using your new shoes so that you are not guessing about how long you have used them. Six months comes and goes very quickly.
- Wear your exercise shoes only for exercise. If you wear your running shoes all day long they will wear out much quicker.
- If you are just beginning a new exercise routine and you have been sedentary for at least a year, you need to purchase new exercise shoes – even if you have a brand new pair that has just been sitting there; shoes do break-down even without use.
- I realize that shoes can cost quite a bit of money these days but the money is well spent. The money you spend proactively on new shoes is far less than the money (and time and energy) you spend when recovering from an injury.
It’s a win-win.
If you need even more rationalization for replacing your shoes more often – many shoe stores give a discount on a new pair of shoes if you donate your old ones. These shoes are then donated to folks who aren’t looking for shoes to help them exercise but ones that simply protect their feet.
Make sure you go to an actual running store with knowledgeable sales people who can analyze your gait and put you in the proper shoes. Make notes of what is said so that you know what size and kind of shoes you need (neutral, pronation, supination, etc). After that you can go online and purchase them yourself saving you a bit of money.