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The Playbook

Look down at your feet or unzip your gym bag. See your sneakers? How long have you had them? Because, chances are, you’re due for a new pair.

Think of it like the oil in your car. Replacement is warranted by either time or mileage. And if you go too long without switching it out, you’re sure to see some performance issues. The truth is, a reliable pair of workout shoes is essential to your fitness, but is often overlooked. And worn out sneakers can lead to unnecessary stress on your feet or ankles as well as loss of stability—which all but guarantees an injury. We asked Mike Donavanik, a Los Angeles-based trainer and founder of Sweat Factor, for some input.

 

What’s the lifespan of a fitness sneaker?

The average lifespan is supposed to be between 300 and 500 miles, but to simplify things, you should look at replacing your regularly worn sneakers every three to six months. And even if you don’t use your shoes that often, they’re still breaking down to some degree.

 

How does it vary, between workouts?

Running or walking: Those shoes will typically have more cushioning that gets worn down. You’ll definitely want to replace those for sure within that three- to six-month range.

Cross training or weight lifting: Those shoes will usually be more firm and supportive. You can get away with replacing those every eight to 12 months. But it depends on usage. For example, if you’re doing a lot of plyometrics or box jumps, you may need to replace them sooner.

 

What are some signs of wear to look for?

It might be hard to “feel” if the shoe needs replacement. And if they look like they’re already breaking down, they should likely have already been replaced. But if you see the seams starting to come apart, the sole’s tread starting to smooth out or if they’re starting to smell, you should find a replacement.

 

Do you switch up your sneakers or keeping buying the same pair over?

I’ve tried enough sneakers to know what I like, so for running and cardio, I like a pretty minimally cushioned shoe that’s also lightweight. But for strength training, I’ll always stick with a simple pair of Vans or Converse.

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