Do You Rotate Your Running Shoes?

How many shoes do you run in? One? Two? Three pairs? There are running shoes? Okay two things here. 1) Yes, there are running-specific shoes and 2) You may want your answer to be at least two or more..if you run pretty regularly that is.

I know. I know. It’s bad enough that a new pair of running sneakers can cost you a pretty penny, but now I’m advising that you have more than one pair? Yeah…Sorry about that. But it’s for your own good. At least, it’s for your feet’s own good.

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Holes in your shoes? Might be time to start thinking about a new pair. That loss of structure definitely has an effect on your muscles even if but a minor effect.

If you do a quick online search for the lifeline of running shoes, you will find many sites that recommend you retire your kicks every 300-500  miles. The problem though is that there are so many factors that need to be considered that can really alter this range including but not limited to the following:

  • The kind of ground surface you mostly run on;
  • The type of workouts you do;
  • Your weight and running; and
  • The type of shoe you run in.

Clearly, that 300-500 mile estimate is just that: an estimate. Because there are so many factors to consider when it comes to how long your running sneakers will last you, this post is Not about that scope. I am instead making the case for why you should consider rotating your shoes. This means having at least 2 pair of shoes in your closet that you wear throughout the week to run.

One of those pairs can be for your more moderate runs while the other can be for your faster workouts (you may consider a lighter training shoe for these workouts). Or perhaps you like to run on the trails sometimes and so you might consider rotating between a trail shoe and a road trainer. The possibilities are endless! Almost.

So here is…


no1  Reduce Muscle Fatigue and Risk of Injury

If you run for a long enough time, your muscles will get tired. Back, arms, legs. They will all tire from use at some point, even if you don’t necessarily feel it while running. Running in worn shoes speeds up this process. If shoes are worn out, that means their shock absorption ability is reduced or nonexistent and thus your muscles are on the receiving end of that increased shock from “pounding the pavement.” Making sure your shoes are not completely worn and/or rotating your shoes helps to ensure that you are not piling up the mileage on your one running pair. This is also especially important if you wear your running shoes on any occasion other than running…Any guilty Phys. Ed. teachers out there?

One weekend when I was training for my 12 hour ultra back in July, I was on the first of a back-to-back 3 hour long run, meaning I run a long run on Saturday, for example, and again on Sunday. After 20 miles, my legs were feeling the fatigue that I knew I should not have been feeling for another hour or so. Admittedly, I had known I needed new running shoes for a while, but I kept procrastinating. I regretted that decision as soon as I stopped and started walking…my knees and feet had had it! How do I know it was from the shoes? I felt it in my gut. And my feet. And my knees. Plus these shoes had way over 500 road miles on them. I didn’t want to back out of the next day’s 3 hour, but I knew I couldn’t wear those same shoes. I didn’t have many options for a 3 hour run so I ran in some clunkers I had that were old in years, but very young in mileage. Since I’m not going for a quick turnover on my long runs, I knew they would do just fine.


The Gel Kayano’s can eat the Gel Excel 33 3’s. I absolutely love the Excels (in blue). Proof: These are my third pair! 

Yep. That’s it. One reason. I began writing this post thinking that it was going to be a “3 Reasons…” post until I fleshed out those couple of paragraphs. Avoiding muscle fatigue is pretty much the best reason to rotate your shoes. I guess reducing muscle fatigue also leads to you getting the most out of your workouts. Yeah, that’s important, but I’ll keep it to 1 Reason for fun! But to provide some more depth to make up for leaving you 2 reasons shorthanded…

How I Rotate My Shoes

I have many running shoes. I didn’t realize this until I was packing to move here to Portland from New Jersey back in January. I even had to leave a few pairs at home that I knew I wouldn’t wear, but of course I’m sentimental about my shoes so I save them. I know…I should donate them. One day people. One day.


The running sneakers that I brought.

Let’s identify: Uppermost shoe = Trail running shoe. Red shoes = Racing flats (I’ve worn them for 5k’s, half-marathons, and during the Portland Marathon). Green & White = Cross-country racing shoes (Good for racing and speed work on flat grassy/dirt surfaces; even got for some pick-up soccer when in a pinch!. Left-most White = old shoes I used to run in years ago (I’ve used them for some long runs when I needed them such as in the situation I described above. I also wore them for the last 8 hours of July’s 12 hour Pick Your Poison).  Blue shoes = My everyday shoes. (There are two pairs pictured and one older pair not pictured.) Also not pictured that I have downstairs in storage are my old sprinting spikes from high school track. I’d be wary wearing them, but at least I have them if I ever choose to pursue speedier endeavors instead of distance ones.

So as you can tell, I have many shoes to rotate through depending on my planned workout, the weather, route, etc. I have a pair of shoes I’d wear if it’s raining so that I can better preserve the structure of my go-to, newer shoes (I don’t even know for sure if rain would impact the shoe’s structure, but I imagine it would). If I’m hitting the trails, I’ve got a shoe for that which I also use when hiking. And so on.

I’m not insinuating that you should go out and buy 5 pairs of shoes tomorrow or else you’re doing things wrong. I just hope you realize that rotating your shoes is a practice many runners do and for good reason. In addition to reducing muscle fatigue from avoiding running in worn shoes, rotating shoes can strengthen different muscles used when running because the shoe structures are different and thus different muscles are being engaged to a certain extent.

So let’s talk about shoes in the comments! Do you have more than one pair that you run/exercise in? Any particular reason? All comments and questions are welcome.

For a couple great reads about this topic:


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