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How Long Do Brooks Running Shoes Last?

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I’ve been a Brooks fan for many years now and have worn their running shoes for countless races and training runs. Even though there are a lot of great running shoes to choose from, there’s something about the quality and character of Brooks that keeps me coming back. They’re just great shoes.

Brooks running shoes are designed to last 300 to 500 miles, which is roughly 3 to 6 months. The exact timing is dependent on how often you run, your stride, and your overall shoe usage. 

Whether you’re already a diehard Brooks enthusiast like me, or you’re still trying to find your new favorite pair of running shoes, longevity is an important factor. Running shoes aren’t cheap and it’s a big deal to buy a new pair every few months. Do Brooks running shoes last as long as their competitors? How much time can you realistically squeeze out of them? Let’s dive in.

Do Brooks Last as Long as Their Competitors?

Yes, Brooks’ claim that their shoes last between 300 and 500 miles is the standard lifespan for running shoes. In most of the places you look, you’ll see a recommendation to replace your running shoes within this time frame, regardless of the style you have. Lighter shoes, such as racing shoes, may need to be replaced more often though.

Personally, my Brooks running shoes have lasted me far beyond the 500 mile/6 month timeline. As we’ll talk about later, this isn’t necessarily a smart choice on my part, but it does speak to the durability of the shoes. I’ve had pairs of Brooks last me for an entire year, even with heavy amounts of running.

brooks glycerin shoes review
Even Oliver is a big fan. These are Brooks Glycerins.

I do TRY to be smart about my running shoes though. More often than not, I buy a new pair of running shoes every 6 months per the recommendation. Even if they shouldn’t be used for running anymore, the shoes are often in great shape and become my everyday walking and hiking shoes. Then, I throw away the old old shoes I was using for walking. I’m in a constant rotation of buying new shoes, turning the old shoes into walking shoes, and throwing away the old old walking shoes. I lead an exciting life, I know.

That said, when these shoes are well over $100+ a pop, replacing them every 6 months doesn’t seem like a fun idea, even if they live on to be your favorite pair of walking shoes. Let’s talk about why these recommendations are in place and whether they really matter.

Why Do Running Shoes Need to Be Replaced Every 300-500 Miles?

Our shoes endure a lot of wear and tear when we run. Unlike our muscles and joints that can repair and recover, any miles we put onto our running shoes permanently damage them. With each mile we run, the cloth becomes more stretched, the soles become more worn, and the cushioning becomes more compact. 

If you’re like my dad, who stubbornly doesn’t replace his running shoes until they quite literally fall apart, you’ll notice the rubber sole starting to separate from the cloth cage on top. You’ll also notice unique wear and tear that reflects your stride, like worn heels if you’re a heel striker.

The tricky thing is that running shoe companies recommend that you replace your shoes well before they are in the state that my dad’s are in. If you have a gaping hole in the sole, you are well beyond the 500 mile limit. Many times, your shoes will seem like they’re perfectly fine at 500 miles, which can make it hard to shell out the money for another pair. 

Even though you can’t always see it, running shoes DO start to deteriorate from the first step you take in them. After 500 miles, the deterioration is to the point where you’re compromising the integrity of the running shoe and may find that they lose the support you’re used to. 

But, 3 to 6 months and 300 to 500 miles is a big window. What the heck?

Yeah, saying that running shoes should be replaced every 3 to 6 months reminds me of medication commercials that say to take it “as needed.” What does that actually mean? The recommendation is so vague that it’s not really a recommendation at all. 

The reason why running shoe companies give such a wide timeframe for replacing shoes is because every runner is different. If you’re a “stomper,” as I’ve been affectionately called, you might go through shoes faster than someone with a light and airy step. 

It also depends on how much you run. This is why they give you both a mileage window and a timeframe window. If you run 500 miles in 2 months, you’re crazy. But also, you need to replace your running shoes even though you haven’t hit the 3 month threshold. On the other hand, let’s say that you run 1 mile a week. After six months, you won’t have hit the 300 mile threshold, but you still might want to consider replacing your shoes. See, both are useful. 

The timeframe in which you replace your running shoes really depends on you. Maybe you notice a lot of deterioration at 300 miles, or maybe it starts to set in at 500. You’ll have to just wait and see. And, what if you don’t notice any issues at 500 miles? Can you just save some money and ignore the recommendation? That’s what we’re talking about next.

What Happens If I Don’t Replace My Running Shoes?

Running shoes are designed to support your foot, ankle, and overall mechanics as you run an insane amount of miles. If you let your running shoes deteriorate, you’re leaving behind that support and may make yourself more prone to injury.

That said, you need to determine a good running shoe lifespan for yourself. Someone like my dad is running on shoes that, at this point, might as well be pieces of rubber and cloth stapled together. For myself, I have run on shoes for more than a year, even when I was marathon training. Neither of us have ever suffered from the negative impacts of running on old running shoes. That we know of.

Supposedly, when you run on old running shoes, you may start to notice some more aches and pains, instability, or general discomfort. If you’re the type to run unevenly on your feet, one side of the soles of your shoes may wear out faster than the other, which can be annoying and uncomfortable at a certain point.

brooks running shoe review
See! They even come in obnoxious colors!

To be honest, I think that some of the “running shoe lifespan timeframe” is a marketing play. Not enough so that I’m ready to metaphorically chuck it out the window with my middle finger raised, but enough so that I take some discretion when determining the day that I should put my shoes in their grave. You really do need to feel it out for yourself. For me, my Brooks have been such hardy companions that I’ve become comfortable with stretching out the suggested timeline a bit. 

The Running Shoe Sweet Spot

Ok, so old shoes can leave you prone to injury, but new shoes can too. Great, right? A study of female runners measured the amount of foot pressure in new shoes and in old shoes. Granted, this was a small study of only 11 participants, but results found that new running shoes exerted more pressure on the foot than older shoes. This makes sense given that new shoes are stiff and inflexible. The problem is that this can leave you prone to injury. At the end of the day, the study concluded that it’s important to break in any new pairs of running shoes in order to prevent injury (source).

Running shoes are at their best after you’ve worn them in, but before they start deteriorating. If you can, buy new running shoes before you need them so that you can wear them in. This means that you don’t want to wait until your shoes are stapled cloth and rubber like my dad does.

The Moral of the Brooks Shoes Longevity Story

I LOVE Brooks shoes. They’ve gotten me through a lot of races and are also my top choice for everyday walking and hiking shoes. They’re cute, well-made, and about as expensive as any other quality running shoes. 

I’ve also found that they last a long time. While I’m not going to tell anyone to directly ignore the 3-6 month and 300-500 mile shoe lifespan, I have definitely gone beyond it with my Brooks shoes with no problems. 

No matter what you decide, Brooks are a great choice if you’re looking for a new shoe brand to fall in love with. I can personally vouch for the awesomeness of any renditions of the Ghost and the Glycerin. Brooks also come in a really cute box, which makes them worth the purchase right there. Here are some of my favorites.

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