Rotating 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?