I do not like to buy clothes or shoes. Ever, really. I like to look nice and think I dress ok, but the act of buying clothes and shoes doesn’t interest me. I’ll buy a shirt and wear it until it shouldn’t be worn anymore. I do the same with shoes. So long as they function correctly, don’t smell like rotten eggs and aren’t falling apart, I won’t replace them. I had a pair of black dress shoes that I bought in May of 2009, and they didn’t get retired until Christmas 2013. And I walk a lot.
When I first started running, I had read that you should replace your shoes every 500 miles. Or buy two pair and alternate them. As I am a somewhat frugal guy, and I had no concept of how long it would take to run 500 miles, I figured I could make do with one pair per year. So I went to my local running store and got a pair of Mizuno shoes. I ran my first half, in 2011, in them. I wore them until the beginning of 2013. According to Garmin Connect, that would be about 800 miles across those two years. For Christmas that year, my mom bought me a new pair of Mizunos (when you find a pair that works, you stick with it!)
Looking back at the pair I used in 2013, during which I ran 725 miles across multiple 5ks, a half marathon and my first full marathon, I don’t see the massive breakdown in tread that many people complain about. They look practically unworn. I’m sure I could have gotten a few hundred more miles out of them.
I started off 2014 wearing the next model year, Mizuno Wave Inspire 9s. All that changed for me was the color (bright red, which oddly enough matches my MCM running jacket and my Garmin 220). I put about 675 miles on these before I bought another pair (same color and model) in case they started breaking down too close to NYC. And wouldn’t you know it, they look just fine too.
So, how long DO running shoes last? According to many runners, it seems anywhere from 200 miles (Ryan Hall) to 500 (the general consensus). For me, I think it’s one of those, “you know when you know” things. I didn’t feel like my shoes weren’t offering me the right amount of support. I didn’t feel like they were leading me towards an injury. 700+ miles definitely seems to be on the high end of mileage. Granted, I’m not running the volume that some people are (Ryan Hall, he of the replace-every-200-miles thought camp, goes through two pairs every month!) but I still feel like you can get more out of them than you may have been lead to believe.
Think back to when everyone KNEW that you had to get your oil changed every 3000 miles. Now we know that that isn’t really the case, and 5k miles seems to be better. Some cars even go 10k miles, or require one oil change per year. Running shoes are probably more similar to your car tires, which wear down a bit every time they’re used.
My ultimate opinion is that your mileage may vary. Some go through them faster than others, and some brands may die out faster or last longer. My Mizunos seem to keep going for a long time, and I love that. Just don’t keep buying stuff if you don’t need them. Replace them when they’re about to go.