Running Shoe Rotation
Updated: Jan 12
The average runner lands with the force of three times their own body weight. This weight impacts your shoes: it can take your shoes’ cushioning more than 24 hours to recover. And if you run in shoes that haven’t recovered, you could experience discomfort, or worse, injury.
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.
-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, 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.
-Look for a more cushioned shoe (Saucony Ride, Asics Cumulus, Nike Vomero) for your long runs to absorb shock and give your feet a bit of a break. For shorter distance and speed work, you’ll want a lighter shoe (Saucony Kinvara, Hoka Clifton, Nike Next%) that won’t weigh you down. When you add a lightweight, flexible pair for speed and strength training, you add variety to what your feet and legs experience, and in turn, you strengthen them.
-Nearly everyone can run safely in lightweight flexible shoes 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!
Shoe rotation can help you avoid a running injury. Vary your drop and cushion levels and don’t be afraid to test new brands within the same category to stay injury-free. Lastly, NEVER run in the same shoes two days in a row and retire your shoes after 300 miles.