With just under 4 weeks till race day, do I need new shoes?

It can be difficult to tell if shoes are in need of replacement. This is particularly true if you cannot remember when the shoe was purchased or how frequently it has been run in.

Running shoes are the only protective element that the runner has between the foot and the ground. Replacing footwear regularly is important to avoid injury and ensure that you have maximal comfort on each run.

Outer-sole materials can be quite durable and not show much wear at all, when internally the semisolid foam becomes compressed. Nonetheless it’s a good place to start and review the outer-sole of the shoe and observe excessive wear. As per the image below, the outer-side of the heel and central portion of the forefoot will usually wear away first.


Place one hand inside the forefoot of the shoe and compress the foam with your other hand. You can often feel severe compression where the shoe has bottomed out or there may be subtle depressions in the foam that can be felt. If there is no bounce or volume of foam in this part of the shoe, shock absorption is most certainly compromised.

Another simple test is to review your shoes on a flat surface.  Looking from behind the shoe, how do they sit? Do they lean inwards or outwards or remain vertical? Ideally the heel counter of the shoe should remain vertical or perpendicular. Definitely discard your shoes if they don’t sit straight!


The simple twist test could also provide an insight as to the integrity of the mid-sole and support it is offering? If you can wring the shoe like a towel then its become pretty soft. Generally a decent running shoe should have some structural integrity and be resistant to the twist test.


There may be some signs on the upper that the shoe is on the way out. These are usually pretty obvious to see. The shoe designers tell us that the average running shoe should last around 1000km’s. Earlier research has highlighted that the shoe can lose as much as  30% of its cushioning after 800km with notable increases in foot pressures also attained. There is some controversy about the failure of the shoe and its contribution to injury as some research is conflicting with these early studies.

The humble running shoe is your friend. Look after them and rotate them frequently. They will add to the comfort of your run should give you a great ride on every outing. If they are not comfortable then there is a good chance that they could increase your injury risk. Now if the time to buy your shoes and break them in – you still have time. Don’t leave it too late. Purchasing a new pair the week before is high risk!

Take home messages

  • Review shoe wear and note any notable distortion. Note that your foot has made the shoe do this!
  • Handle the shoe, flex it and twist it – how does it feel?
  • How many km’s has it endured?
  • Are you a heavy runner or a lightweight? The lighter you are the longer the shoe will last.
  • Try a brand new shoe on your foot to gauge any differences between your shoes. Is it like night and day putting a new shoe on your foot?


Want to find out more, or book an appointment? visit the team at Sportsmed