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How Alternating Running Shoes Can Benefit Your Running:

How Alternating Running Shoes Can Benefit Your Running:

One of the most asked questions I get while working in a running store, is: “Should I alternate running shoes”?

The short answer is, you don’t need anything… 

But this post isn’t about the short answer.

Alternating running shoes can benefit anyone running, from those training for a 5k to those training for a marathon or even ultra marathon.

Keep in mind, your rate of injury does go up if you don’t alternate the right running shoes.  Every running shoe is made for a different foot type and if you alternate the wrong shoes (for your feet), then you will get injured.

There are very few situations you should rotate a stable and neutral running shoe together.  Make sure that the running shoes you’ve chosen are correct for your particular gait and feet.  Every shoe is good for someone, but there is no “best shoe.”   I cannot stress how important it is to go to your local Running Store and get your feet analyzed. 

But why Alternate Running Shoes?

Alternating Running Shoes Increases Durability:

Well yes, having two pairs of running shoes means you use the shoe less frequently, but it also means your shoe have time to recover and bounce back from each run. Most running shoes last about 400 miles, but by alternating running shoes you might be able to get an extra hundred.

So why does alternating running shoes extend the life of the running shoe? If you give shoes 1-2 days to “recover,”  the materials in the midsole don’t continuously compress.  Like a sponge, they fluff or bounce back closer to their original state.

Instead of getting the traditional 300-400 miles on a shoe, you might get a few more.  

It does naturally cost more to buy two shoes; you are getting more for your money.  Always ask your running store if they give a discount for buying two shoes, we do where I work

Different Running Shoes are Made for Different Things:

As someone who has multiple pairs of shoes for different activities, this is important. Take the Hoka Bondi 5 versus the Saucony Type A.  Both of these shoes make weekly appearances in my running, but they are made for different types of runs!  The Hoka Bondi 5 has over double the weight and cushion of the Saucony Type A.

The Hoka Bondi 5 was created for a long run, recovery run or to withstand training. Saucony Type A is a minimal racing flat.  If you train in the Saucony Type A for every run, you will get injured.  If you raced in the Hoka Bondi, your body and feet would be working significantly harder.  Every shoe has a time and place.

Plus use an old running shoe model for cross training allows your current training shoes to last longer.

By alternating running shoes and having different types of shoes for different workouts, you’ll get the most out of each pair.

Alternating Running Shoes Can Prevent Injury and help stay injury-free:

As I mentioned above, this only works if you do it correctly!  While alternating running shoes is not a magical way to prevent injuries, you can decrease your injury risk by alternating running shoes.

Stress fractures happen from doing the same thing day in and day out.  If you run the same route, in the same shoes, every day you are more prone to an injury.

Even if you rotate two of the exact same style, then your feet are working in very similar ways.  Choosing different brands or models to alternate your running shoes allow your body and feet to work just different enough that it can decrease the stress put on any given area of your body.

Should You Alternate the Same Exact Style or Different Brands?

Alternating two of the same style allows each shoe to have a longer life span.

Alternating different styles of running shoes allows each shoe to have a longer lifespan and your foot will work differently in each shoe.  You’ll be less susceptible to injury by alternating different types or brands of shoes.

It’s just fun.  This isn’t a scientific fact, but alternating running shoes is just fun. 

What shoes am I alternating between? 
Hoka Bondi 5 (long runs, daily runs)
Saucony Freedom ISO (daily runs)
Brooks Launch (speed work, short runs)
Saucony Type A (speed work)

Finally, have you subscribed to the LOLZletter? It’s a free newsletter that comes out each Monday. In the newsletter, I share running industry trends and things relevant to the sport. 

Questions for you:
Which shoes are in your shoe rotation?
Have a question about shoes?  Ask below!

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4 responses

  1. I rotate between Brooks Ghost for most of my runs, and Newtons for my long runs (which is also what I race in).

    But it’s about time to go to the running store and get refitted . . .

  2. I feel like if you wear different shoes for workouts vs. easy/long/recovery days, this naturally happens too. I wouldn’t want to race a 5K or run 800m intervals around a track in the same shoes I wear for say, a 16 miler. I talked to the manager at my LRS about this when I got my orthotic made and told her about how many pairs of shoes I alternate. I wondered if that may have something to do with my injury. She said she doesn’t see any more injuries than usual from people who say they alternate (assuming none of those people are alternating say, the Brooks Beast and Saucony A6 here… lol).

    I will say though, coming back from injury, I have been wearing the same shoes mainly because all my miles are easy and I want to wear a shoe with a higher drop so my calves aren’t working as hard. When I start running more and doing workouts, I will pull out other shoes.

  3. I have three shoes that I am currently rotating all are the same type of shoe. I need newer shoes soon. The older shoes have 1,200 miles, then its 700 and 400 miles each for the other two pair. I need a little money to replace the shoes so I have to sell my plasma for a while longer to get the extra money.

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