Why you need to have multiple pairs of running shoes

I recently broke up with a pair of running shoes. It was tough, believe me, because these shoes had seen me through five marathons including my BQ, and had run with me for over 900km. That’s further than if you ran from Paris to Salzburg, Austria. Crazy!

Here’s the thing though, running 900+km in a pair of shoes is not good for your feet. I broke up with these shoes because although they had been fine their whole life, they started giving me blisters. The final straw was when I pulled off my sock after a long run and discovered a blood blister the size of a cherry tomato. It was not pretty, and after that the shoes got put in the cupboard for good.

Those shoes lasted me 7 months from August last year. That’s not a very long time, particularly if you’ve found a pair of shoes that fits you well. However, had those shoes been the only pair of shoes I wore, they would have been worn out a lot faster.

I like to have several pairs of shoes on rotation, because not only does it make a good shoe last longer, but it also means that you can target your shoe to the type of terrain or session that you are doing. For instance, my typical rotation will include a pair of structured shoes for long runs, a neutral pair for tempo runs, a very lightweight pair for speed work and usually another structured pair for easy runs in between. I also keep a pair of trail shoes on hand for whenever it’s going to get muddy (or snowy!) underfoot.

Having five pairs of shoes on the go does require quite a bit of upfront investment, because unfortunately running shoes are not cheap. I like to keep an eye out for the sales and typically buy 2-3 pairs at a time at 20-50% off. The shoes you’re buying will likely be last season’s model, but it’s worth it for the financial savings (or the extra pair of shoes you can buy with the discount!). It also means that those five pairs of shoes are going to last you a lot longer than a single pair of shoes will.

It’s simple maths. Spreading your kilometres over two pairs of shoes means that each is running only half the distance, and therefore will last twice as long. Although of course the maths is not that simple because you’ll cover more distance on your long runs than on the track, meaning that your track shoes should last longer than your long run shoes. But the principle still stands: more shoes means having to buy new shoes less often.

A great way to know when it is time to get some new ones is to track the number of kilometres that you’ve run in each pair. If you use Strava to track yours runs, you can set up your ‘My Gear’ section to include all the pairs of shoes that you own. For each run you do, you then just have to tag which shoes you wore and Strava will send you a notification when it’s time to replace a pair (usually 500-800km). That’s probably a better method to use than waiting until your feet are covered in blisters…

How many pairs of running shoes do you have?

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