Thoughts on Running Shoes (Part 1)

It’s often said that the only thing you need to run is a good pair of running shoes.  Hopefully, you’re wearing more than running shoes while out on your runs, but in my opinion, a good pair of running shoes is by far the most essential thing whether you are just starting out running or if you have been running for years! 

Last week, I asked a series of questions on Instagram about running shoes.  From the brands you wear and how loyal you are to that brand to how long you use them and if you use them for specific types of running.  This week’s post is Part 1 of a 2 part blog post over the next two weeks discussing the responses to those questions and some other things to consider with your shoes. 

So let’s get to some of the questions.

1//How Many Pairs of Running Shoes Do You Own?  As expected, the responses to this were somewhat scattered.  Of the 48 responses, 20 people own 4 or more pairs while the majority of the remaining responses were 2 pairs or less.  This is one of the many things that is completely up to the individual and their preferences when it comes to running. 

As long as you are comfortable in your shoes when you are running, then it doesn’t really matter how many pairs you have, but there are definitely some other things that you should think about when it comes to your shoes, which is why I asked the next three questions!

2//Do You Rotate Shoes?  When I first heard that it was “recommended” that you rotate your running shoes, I just assumed that it was a ploy by the running companies to get everyone to buy more pairs of shoes from them.  While there still might be some truth to that, there are also a couple of sound reasons to rotate your shoes.  First, a lot of shoes take 24 hours or even longer to return to their proper form, meaning that if you use the same shoes two days in a row there is a good chance they are not as springy or provide the same amount of cushion as they are meant to.  Second, one study showed that runners that rotate at least two pairs of shoes were almost 40% less likely to get injured. 

Deciding to rotate or not could also be based on how often you run.  Since I run every day, I definitely am a proponent of rotating shoes.  In addition to the two reasons listed above, I also feel that wearing different shoes from day to day allows my feet and muscles to adapt and apply themselves differently.  However, if you are running every other day (3-4 times a week) it might not be as important for you to rotate your shoes as they will likely be getting the right amount of time to return to their form.

For the record, 33 of the 50 responders rotate their running shoes.

3//Do You Track Mileage?  Of the 50 responses, 29 people track their mileage.  For me, tracking my mileage helps me to plan when I might need a new pair of shoes.  I rotate 3 pairs at a time usually – one at a higher mileage (300+ miles), one nicely broken in (around 100 miles) and one somewhat new pair.  This is just my preferred way to do it. 

Tracking mileage can be helpful in your overall training also, but specific to your running shoes, this is the only reason I track it.  Strava and MapMyRun make tracking miles by shoe pretty easy, if you are interested in starting. 

4//How Many Miles Do You Put on Your Shoes Before Retiring Them?  The general guidance I’ve seen over the years is most running shoes are good for 300-500 miles (~480-800 kilometers) and that’s what most of the responses were for this question. 

The longevity of your running shoes can vary based on your running style (heavy vs. light footfall), where your run (road, trail, treadmill), how often you use a specific pair of shoes and if you rotate them.  For instance, if your feet land heavy, you run mostly on the road and you don’t rotate shoes, then they might not last as long as if any of those variables changed.  

As I said earlier, I think that your running shoes are the most important thing when it comes to having a good running experience. This doesn’t mean that you need to go out and buy the most expensive pair of shoes, but I would definitely recommend finding some that you are comfortable in. Having shoes that are uncomfortable for whatever reason will lead to pain, injury or just an overall bad experience.

Just to reiterate, I asked these questions and gathered the responses as a way to show everyone how others use their running shoes. As with most running-related things, it comes down to your own preferences and what you are comfortable with during your workouts. What works for me, might not work for you or the next person, but I think it’s nice to be able to share what a larger group is doing to allow for everyone to have different perspectives to think about.

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