Image for article titled Why Older Running Shoes Probably Won't Last Even If Not Worn

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You’ve probably heard by now that if the cushioning starts to wear off, you should replace your running shoes, which most manufacturers say it does after 300 to 500 miles. But it turns out that there is another problem with old shoes even if you haven’t walked in them.

The cushioning in running shoes is not designed to last, even if these shoes are on the shelf. Fleet Feet, a running shoe store, Remarks that rubber and foam, which form the cushioning of the shoes, degrade over time and the foam can even shatter. Other components of the shoe, such as the seams on the upper, can also break over time.

Fleet Feet sells shoes, so a cynical part of me thinks that’s exactly what they want to believe. Runners have different opinions and experiences (here is a forum post that includes a multitude). Some report that year-old shoes are as good as new, while others find enough of a difference that they refuse to buy old shoes.

Shoes vary, and so do people’s preferences for cushioning, so there is unlikely to be a single answer. Even in the same style of shoe (Nike Free), I had pairs that I loved to wear for years and others that began to feel out of whack before their time. Ultimately, you have to decide for yourself how you feel about the subject.

How much time do you have before a running shoe breaks?

According to Fleet Feet, shoes are good as new for about a year after purchase, and they can get brittle after that. They won’t be completely ruined, but you may not get as many miles out of them as you would with a brand new shoe.

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The Brooklyn Running Company called a number of shoe companies for more information, and they did found that most said their foams are good for about five years. That is good news! But other components of the shoes, including the adhesives that hold them together, can break earlier.

Storage conditions affect the life of a shoe, the companies say, including temperature. A pair of shoes in a cool, dry place like the shelf in your closet will last longer than a pair that will be exposed to heat, moisture, and sunlight.

Bottom Line: If you’re buying older styles of shoes to save a few bucks, you may not be saving as much as you thought. If you get a pair at 40% off but only get 300 miles instead of 500, that’s the same price per mile.