The average runner lands with the force of three times their own body weight & it can take your shoes’ cushioning more than 24 hours to recover. The aging effect or breakdown of your running shoes can be influenced by various parameters such body weight, run speed, foot strike pattern and the type of ground he/she trains on. Most running injuries stem from repetitive strain—too much of the same forces applied to vulnerable body parts. Vary running routes along with your shoe drop and cushion levels. When the time is right, don’t be afraid to test new brands within the same category to stay injury-free.
Here’s why it’s important to have a second (or third) pair of favorite running shoes:
- Running in a fully recovered pair of shoes helps reduce injury and makes your shoes last longer. By allowing shoes at least a day off, you’re not running on the already-compressed cushion. Here is a wonderful study quantifying the effects and implications of running on "aged" running shoes.
- Variety is the key to injury-free running by making sure you never overload any one muscle, tendon, or ligament in the exact same way over and over. Change up your training by running different routes and surfaces, as well as wearing different shoes. No two running shoes are 100% identical, even the same models. There’s always a slight difference that offers a slightly different ride.
- If you’re a higher mileage runner or long-distance triathlete, look into trying an entirely different model shoe for contrasting runs: easy runs vs. tempo runs, etc. Stay in the same category and cushion level that works for you, but branch out to another model or another brand. This creates even more variety, which helps strengthen different muscles, tendons, and ligaments.
- If you want to be competitive on race day, you must wear a carbon-plated shoe "super shoe". If you choose not to, you are simply handicapping yourself. However, do not utilize your carbon-plated shoe as a daily trainer. The ultra stiff sole of most super shoes may lead to plantar fascia weakness or calf/Achilles strain. Instead, save your super shoes for key speed workouts and those final key long runs. Be wise: typical super shoes lose their "pop" after 100-150 miles, so conserve those miles.
- On the contrary, nearly everyone can run safely in lightweight flexible shoes (Saucony Kinvara) once a week for 20-30 minutes. This will promote an eccentric contraction within the Achilles but will create damage to the tissue. This damage is ok, as long as we allow it to heal appropriately and maintain flexibility of the calf and Achilles to accommodate for the increased available range of motion that a minimal shoe gives us. Don’t skimp on the eccentric calf raises!
Bottom Line: If you run in shoes that haven’t recovered, you could experience discomfort, or worse, injury. Lastly, avoid running in the same shoe two days in a row & “retire” your shoes after 300 miles. Stay healthy, rotate those shoes!
Since 2012, Jason Lentzke has been coaching triathletes, cyclists, runners and endurance athletes of all skill levels with his company, Toro Performance. He has guided beginners to their first Ironman finish line, professional triathletes to the podium, Ironman age group champions, elite marathoners and virtually every skill level in between. As a life-long student of endurance sport and elite athlete,, Jason shares a commitment to excellence with his stable of athletes and fellow Toro Performance coaches.