Rotating Running Shoes

Should you rotate running shoes

One of the most common questions I get after working in run specialty is: Should you rotate running shoes?

The short answer is yes. Different shoes are made for different things and you can get a lot more life out of your running shoes when you use them correctly.

But what about the long answer?

There isn’t a single running shoe that can do every run, race, and, workout.  You don’t want to do a long run in a racing flat, and I would prefer not to race in a trainer. If you do other cross training, you want a different or old pair of running shoes for that. But running only, rotating running shoes is going to help you achieve more of your running goals.

That leads to one of the most common running gear questions:

Should you train in different types of running shoes?

The answer is yes it’s a good idea!  No single shoe can serve the purpose of all of your training needs.  Plus, rotating through different types of running shoes can extend the life of a shoe and help to prevent overuse injury. When you use different shoes, it works different muscles. Similar to changing the environment you run, rotating running shoes will change the environment your feet are used to.

Rotating through two pairs of the same running shoe will prolong the lifespan of the shoe, but you will still be working the same muscles.

How does rotating running shoes reduce overuse injury?

By rotating through a few pairs of running shoes, your gait and running form will change slightly in each pair of shoes.  In every pair of shoe, your foot strikes the ground differently because the cushioning of each brand and each shoe varies from shoe to shoe. It also varies in each model of shoe from each brand.

Your muscles will work slightly differently in different running shoes. This causes different muscles to become stronger.  Your body won’t get used to running in the same thing and it helps prevent injury (it’s not the only way).

How does rotating running shoes extend the life of a training shoe?

If you use the same shoe daily, the cushioning will continue to compress.  The cushioning or foam will break down instead of bouncing back to recover.  Having multiple shoes allows each pair to have their own “rest days” even if you don’t take rest days. The average running shoe lasts about 400 miles but there is no exact number. Racing flats are less while many trail shoes last longer. Find out if you need racing flats here.

An important thing to note about rotating running shoes:

It’s great to rotate through several pairs of shoes, but you should be rotating shoes that are still fit and appropriate for your foot type.  Using a very stable shoe and a minimal shoe could multiply your ability to get injured versus reducing it.  Make sure that the shoes you are using are compatible with you.  Not every running shoe works for every person.

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Question for you: Do you rotate running shoes? 


  1. Yup, I definitely rotate. Saucony Triumph, Zealot (LOVE these. they worked out great by the way after our Twitter exchange (if you remember. i know you help out tons of people! – thanks!), Brooks Launch 2, Hoka Clifton (first edition haven’t tried the 2’s). I am tempted to try out the Brooks Pure Flow 5’s that just came out. I loved the originals but haven’t liked any editions since.

    1. Awe of course I remember Amanda! I’m really glad to hear they are working for you. We are #twinning

    2. Oh BTW, a lot of feedback indicated the Clifton 2s are much more narrow/short so I would see if you can try them on first!

      1. Thanks! Yeah, it was fun to try the Hoka’s. I’m not sure I will get another pair but it’s very helpful to know I shouldn’t just order them online expecting the 2’s to fit the same way.

  2. I rotate between 3 pairs of shoes, but they are all the same brand Nike. Should I be using different brands or is the same brand but different styles ok?


    1. Using the same brand I’d definitely fine, it’s good to make sure the models are structurally similar. If you aren’t injured though, I would say it’s working for you!

  3. I typically wear the same shoes for most of my runs but I don’t run every day. When I do multiple runs in a row, I typically will switch things up and wear a more cushioned mizuno vs. the wave rider. It’s whatever I’m in the mood for that day, really. I do tend to race in a lighter pair though.

  4. I have five pairs of running shoes, all Newton Running Distance, that I rotate. I have two pair of bike shoes both Perl Izumi with Speedplay Zero, two pair of flip flops for the pool swims and three pairs of water shoes for open water swims at the beach and for stand up paddle boarding. My workout area of the garage has plenty of shoes.

    Once I find a model that works I stick with it until the maker discontinues making them.

      1. Yes I remember the 5 lugs and I wish they would bring the, back. The new Newtons are cheap replicas.

  5. I rotate between a few different kinds of shoes and a few pairs (I have 2 pairs of a few shoes). I really love my New Balance Fresh Foam Zante for speedwork and my Brooks Launch 2 for long runs or easy days. Definitely helps to rotate between a few and I like picking up a new pair when I find them on sale.

  6. I don’t rotate as much as I probably should. I have about 3 pairs of shoes that I rotate through, but I definitely have my favorite…

  7. beacause of previous posts from you on rotating shoes i do this way more now and you are so right i have a pair of shoes for the treadmill, for speed work and for long distances. i just have 3 right now (i mean they are EXPENSIVE) but the rotation has really helped me.

    1. Rotating shoes is definitely expensive, especially if all 3 shoes need to be replaced at the same time. Luckily they do last a bit longer that way though.

  8. I have so many shoes, both running and work/real life. When I do long runs or am supposed to run easy I purposely wear my mizuno wave riders which feel “clunky” to me vs my saucony kinvaras or virrata’s which make me want to go fast!

  9. Wise post. Yes, I rotate with two pairs Mizuno prophecy for the longer runs and Altra 2.0 or speed or shorter runs and Mizuno inspire for whatever running lol I’m really thinking about pursuing other Altra shoes though because I have fallen head over heals for the wider toe box. Like seriously. Love. I’d rotate more but my husband doesn’t support my ‘need’ ha ha!!

  10. I’d love to be able to rotate my running shoes but unfortunately my finances don’t allow it at the minute. I’m hopefully going to get a pair for roads and a pair for trails this month so I can use both. It’s not ideal, but it’s a start 🙂

  11. I kind of want to try the Quantum, but I will probably wait to see what the Nimbus 18 is like. I feel like the Quantum would be a really nice long run shoe!

  12. I am also loving the Triumph ISO 2. I’m also running in the Ride and occasionally the Launch 2, and I’ll race in the Kinvara. (Need to get a new pair for 2016!)

  13. I rotate between various pairs of saucony kinvaras and the zealot. I also had a pair of Nike Pegasus 31 and new balance minimums in the rotation there for a while but lately I’ve moved away from these & I’ve been eyeing up a pair of saucony a6s for a while…Maybe for 2016!

  14. Love a good shoe rotation!! Nike free/ Altra torin 2.0 for recovery, Nike Pegasus 32 for long runs, and Adidas adios boost 2 for speed.

    1. It’s funny,I actually just started to try the Altra Torin too. I am currently undecided with my thoughts about it!

  15. This is very interesting. I rotate shoes, but just two pairs of the same ones. I only do short 3ish mile runs, never really varying pace that much since I’m just trying to keep a base. Do you think I need to try something else too? My shoes are pretty lightweight – Saucony Kinvara.

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