The idea of rotating running shoes often sounds a bit excessive to recreational athletes. While elite runners rotate between 5-10 pairs of running shoes, the thought of doing so as a regular, recreational runner might sound unnecessary. But is it?
While most runners don’t need 5-10 different pairs of shoes, creating a running shoe rotation can provide a variety of surprising benefits. Regardless of whether you’re simply running to stay in shape, PR in the 5k or finish your first marathon, rotating between 2-3 pairs of running shoes can help in many ways.
Is it good to rotate running shoes?
If you run on a regular basis, say at least 3-4 times a week, then rotating your running shoes is absolutely a good idea.
You don’t have to be a professional athlete or fast sprinter to benefit from a few different pairs of shoes – most runners find quite a few benefits from using multiple pairs of running shoes.
How many running shoes should you have in rotation?
If you’re regularly running 3 to 4 days a week, primarily as a way to stay in shape, rotating between 2 pairs of running shoes will probably be all you need.
Should you rotate the same shoe or different types?
Similar to the number of shoes you’ll want in rotation, the answer to this question will depend on your training style and goals. If you’re running a few times a week simply to stay in shape, and have no history of injury, sticking with two pairs of the same type of shoe will suffice.
However, if you are training for a specific goal or complete a variety of workouts and different types of running during training, it will be beneficial to rotate between different types of running shoes.
Utilizing a running shoe rotation that includes different types of shoes will allow you to find shoes that are most closely matched to the type of workout or run you are about to complete.
Try setting yourself up to use different types of shoes for different types of runs. Look for lighter weight shoes for speed workouts and heavier, more supportive shoes for long runs. Including a variety of well-fitting, comfortable shoes will help you create a beneficial running shoe rotation.
How long do running shoes last?
For regular use, most running shoes last about 500 miles. However, this number varies depending on a few factors.
The type of terrain on which you run, whether or not you rotate your shoes, how often you run, the type of foot strike you have, and even more.
Regardless of whether you’re simply running to stay in shape or are training for a goal, rotating running shoes can greatly improve the quality of your training and help you avoid injury. Here are a few more reasons to consider creating a running shoe rotation.
Why You Should Consider Rotating Running Shoes
Running shoe rotations don’t have to be complicated. Something as simple as switching back and forth between a couple pairs of shoes can make a huge difference in training. Here are a few reasons you should consider getting started.
Better performance of different runs
Rotating running shoes gives you the option of having different shoes for different types of runs. Keeping a pair of lightweight shoes as well as heavier, more supportive shoes on hand will allow you to select the type of shoe that is best suited for each run.
Wearing a lighter weight shoe for track workouts or speedier runs sets you up for optimal performance and output, whereas heavier shoes keep you supported and pain free during long runs.
Avoid and eliminate muscle imbalances
Wearing the exact same pair of running shoes for every run gives your body plenty of time to adapt to the support and develop muscles specific to those shoes. Before long, you’ll likely develop some muscle imbalances as you use the same ones repeatedly with the same shoes.
Alternating between a couple different pairs of shoes requires stabilizing muscles, helping avoid the formation of muscle imbalances which could eventually lead to pain or injury.
Feel comfortable on every run
Keeping a few different pairs of shoes on hand will allow you to tailor your shoe selection to the type of running you’re about to complete. You’ll be able to chose some well supported shoes for long runs and lighter weight shoes for short, fast workouts.
Wearing shoes that are meant specifically for each type of run helps you stay comfortable and effective throughout each training week.
Shoes last longer
Rotating running shoes has one big, obvious advantage: the shoes last longer. Alternating between multiple different pairs means you’ll put less miles on each shoe, allowing you to keep them for longer. Once you find a few pairs that you like, you won’t have to make many trips to the store in between to replenish your supply.
Have an extra pair for extra locations
Another logistical advantage of using a running shoe rotation is that you can keep a pair of shoes in different locations. If you run in multiple places – such as work, home, the gym, etc. – you’ll be able to leave a pair of shoes at each location.
With multiple pairs of running shoes on hand, storing them at each main location is easy. Keep your lightweight shoes at the gym for speed workouts, and your heavier shoes at home for long runs. You’ll never have to pack up your shoes and lug them from one place to the next.
Enhance your mental game
It might sound silly, but knowing that you are wearing shoes which were purchased for the sole purpose of your workout might give you a mental boost. Knowing that you’re wearing your lightweight track shoes for that interval workout will help you feel primed and ready to give it your all.
Keeping those supportive shoes around for long runs is a great way to put your mind at ease and help you feel comfortable once you get further into your run.
Get to enjoy multiple running shoes
One final reason to consider rotating running shoes is this: it’s fun. Let’s face it, there’s nothing quite like the excitement that comes with new running shoes. Purchasing gear and wearing your best puts a smile on just about any runner’s face.
With multiple shoes in rotation, you’ll get to enjoy new, fresh shoes with every run.
How to Create a Running Shoe Rotation
Once you’ve decided to start rotating your running shoes, the question quickly becomes: how? Setting up a running shoe rotation might sound straightforward, but you might be surprised to discover just how many details you need to figure out in order to get started.
Here are a few guidelines to help you get started rotating running shoes.
- Decide whether you’re rotating shoes based on support, run type or terrain
- Decide whether you’ll rotate between 2 or 3 pairs of shoes, or more
- If you choose 3+ shoes, it’s a good idea to get two of a similar type for the running you do most
- Keep a separate pair of race shoes for race day and important runs
- Narrow down shoes based on type, but always select ones that fit your arch type and foot structure
Once you understand the basics of a running shoe rotation, you’re ready to decide exactly how to set yours up. Here are a few different options for rotating shoes.
Running shoe rotation based on terrain
- Trail shoes are usually heavyweight and durable
- Road shoes are supportive and medium weight
- Track shoes are often flat and very lightweight
Running shoe rotation based on support
- Stability shoes: great for those who overpronate (more wear on inner sole of your shoe)
- Neutral shoes: great for those with a neutral gait (most wear is near the ball of the foot)
- Cushioned shoes: great for those who underpronate (more wear on the outer sole of the shoe) as they allow the foot to pronate more
Running shoe rotation based on run type
- Easy runs – medium weight
- Speed workouts – lighter weight
- Longer distance runs – supportive, heavier weight shoes
- Race shoes – depends on the distance/race type
- Trail shoes – heavier weight with support
Setting up a running shoe rotation usually involves sifting through thousands of different options of running shoes. If you usually stick to one or two favorites, branching out can feel a bit foreign. Here are a few different types of running shoes to help you as you find your favorites.
Running Shoe Types
- Neutral running shoe: great for easy, mid-distance runs
- Stability running shoe: helpful for those who over or under pronate
- Minimal running shoe: lightweight shoes, typically for speed or track workouts
- Maximal running shoe: heavier shoes with support, typically for long distance running
- Barefoot running shoe: no support, meant to mimic the feeling of landing barefoot
- Zero drop running shoe: usually only 3-6 mm cushioning on the heel, compared to the standard 8-12 mm of cushioning
- Trail running shoe: thick, supportive shoes for uneven terrain
Creating a running shoe rotation may take some time and a bit of planning, but will be beneficial for any type of runner. Switching between different types of shoes not only helps them last longer, but will give you a mental and physical boost in your performance as well.
One of the best ways to avoid injury and stay on top or your game is to use different shoes for different types of runs. Rotating running shoes is a simple, practical way to take your training to the next level.