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Cross Training For Runners

How to Rotate Running Shoes

6 Mins read

If you want to improve your performance and reduce injury risks, then chances you you’ve heard of rotating running shoes.

But is it true? Any proof that backs this up?

Here’s the truth.

Having more than one pair comes in handy for many reasons—some of which we’ll discuss in today’s post.

In this article, I’ll dive into:

  • What’s the meaning of rotating running shoes
  • Benefits of rotating running shoes
  • How many pairs of running shoes do you need
  • How to rotate running footwear
  • Variables to consider when rotating different running shoes
  • And so much more.

Let’s lace up and dig in.

The Meaning of Rotating Running Shoes

So what do I mean by rotating running shoes?

Quite simple. This practice involves having a few pairs of running shoes.

So, for example, if you have two pairs of running shoes, you will switch back and forth between the two.

What’s more?

You’ll be using different running shoes on different days, which helps you cycle through your shoe rotation from run to run.

Let’s look at this from an other angle.

Take a look at your wardrobe. You, hopefully, have sweatpants, jeans, casual pants, work pants, and sleep pants. I’d wager that you don’t wear the same pants every day and on every occasion, right?

You choose your pant based on the occasion. So, it’s not a huge leap to seriously consider doing the same things when it comes to running shoes.

For example, you might wear light shoes for your speedwork run on Tuesday, trail running shoes for your trail run on Thursday, then road running shoes for your long run on Saturday. That’s why experienced runners have more than a few pairs of running shoes in rotation.

Do you Need A Running Shoe Rotation

If you’re only running a couple of times per week, there’s likely no need to have more than one running shoe in rotation. However, once you decide to take things to the next level and go after performance goals, consider having a shoe rotation.

More on this later.

How Many Running Shoes Should I Have?

IF you ask for my advice, I’d say that most runners need at least two pairs of running shoes. If you often run three to four times a week, two pairs of shoes will likely be all you need.

But if you run more often and/or train for a long-distance race, such as a marathon, consider having at least three pairs in your running shoe rotation. The more, the merrier since you’ll likely be running on various terrains, from track and treadmill to roads and trails.

Keep in mind that each running shoe is made for a specific terrain.

Make sure you’re wearing the right shoe for the right terrain. Trails running shoes for the trails. Road running shoes for the road. Don’t do your speedwork on a track using a pair of trail running shoes.

Benefits of Running in Two Pairs of A Shoe

Let’s delve deeper into how rotating your running shoes can help you get the most out of your training and your sneakers.

Reduced Injury Risk

According to a study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, subjects trained in more than one pair of shoes were at a lower risk for injury.

Research has found that rotating running shoes can limit the risk of running injuries by roughly 40 percent, which is one of the main reasons that all runners should have more than a pair of shoes.

Research published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports looked into the impact of shoe rotating on injury risk using a sample size of 264 runners.

Research by Malisoux reported that runners who rotate between at least two pairs of shoes are 39 percent less likely to develop an injury when compared to those who only run in one pair of running shoes.

The theory

Pounding the street using the same shoes stresses your muscles and joints in the same way every run. And since running is such a repetitive and high impact, it can overstress these issues, especially when you increase training intensity.

Here’s the kicker.

When you alternate your sneakers, you vary the load applied to the musculoskeletal system, which may help you reduce the repeated load on different joints, muscles, and ligaments.

Don’t get me wrong. Rotating running shoes doesn’t make you immune to injury. You still have to take precautions to limit injury risk, such as increasing weekly load slowly, taking rest days, and following a nutritious diet.

But having more than one pair can provide additional protection against injury, especially if you run a lot and/or often.

Your Shoes Will Last Longer

It’s common knowledge in the running world that most running shoes have a lifespan of around 400 to 600 miles.

Of course, the exact range varies depending on many factors, such as your:

  • Foot strike
  • Running surface
  • Running frequency
  • Running speed
  • Bodyweight
  • Running gait

Here’s the good news.

Rotating running shoes helps elongate their lifespan, which can help you save money.

Here are more ways to make your running shoes last longer.

rotating running shoes

Find The Perfect Shoe

Finding the right sole-mate takes a lot of experimentation. Using more than one pair allows you to test various models and styles and do objective, real-world experimenting. This should help you find your ideal pair of running shoes.

By experimenting with different shoes, you’ll have more exposure to a wide range of running shoes, allowing you to test different models and styles in your running shoe rotation.

Different Shoes For Different Runs 

If you rotate through multiple sets, have a pair for each specific workout.

Shoes will function differently at slow or fast paces and offer different running experiences. This is especially the case as you progress as a runner and start to vary the length and speed of your workouts.

For example, you’ll choose lighter shoes with minimal cushion for faster/shorter runs, whereas, for a longer run, you opt for a shoe that provides a little more cushion.

Here’s the full guide to running shoe anatomy.

Proper Drying

Alternating your shoes gives the one you just used a chance to dry out thoroughly.

This helps remove the fungus and mold that can fester quickly in sweat-laden and moisture-rich shoes.

Long runs can produce an immense amount of moisture in your running shoes. This moisture build-up will eventually break down the component of your shoes, which can result in uneven wear in the uppers.

Good Wash

If one pair gets dirty, you’ll need at least a couple of days to get washed and dry, and you don’t want to skip your important runs just because you washed your running shoes last night.

Run Commute

If you run to or from work, you can leave the extra pair at the office without bringing them back and forth.

Shoe Running Rotating Factors

So what does shoe rotation depends on? Many variables, actually, but the most important ones include the following:

  • Running goals
  • Running frequency
  • Running mileage
  • Running terrain
  • Your budget

Buying More Than One Pair

How to Create A Running Shoe Rotation

Once you decide to have more than one pair of running shoes, you might ask yourself how.

Here are a few guidelines to get you started rotating running shoes.

  • How many? Decide how many pairs you’ll rotate through based on run, type of terrain, and support.
  • Different models. If your budget allows it, you should have at least two pairs of running shoes, ideally two different models with different heel drops.
  • Ask for advice. Next time you head to your local running shoe store for a new pair, ask which two—or three—pairs they recommend for your training goals, foot type, body weight, and experience, and test them all out.
  • Check the heel drop. Using running shoes with a different heel-toe drop is a fantastic way to subtly change your gait and foot strike and get your body working slightly differently.
  • Keep them for the road. Don’t use your running shoes for non-running activities, such as wearing them to the grocery store or lawn mowing. All of those miles add up.
  • Look for good deals. Ask for a discount on the second pair when panning to buy two pairs simultaneously. You can also hunt for sales, either closeout at online stores or running stores
  • Different surfaces. Do your best to vary your running terrains during any given weak and wear appropriate shoes. Changing things by running on trails, dirt paths, paved roads, concrete bike paths, gravel roads, grass, and tracks.
  • Keep track. Don’t run your shoes into the ground. Instead, keep track. A worn-out shoe could increase your risk of developing overuse injuries.
  • Know the signs. Keep track of mileage logged in, and remember to flip your shoe over to assess the wear pattern—if the tread is worn down, change up your shoes.

How to Rotate Running Shoes – The Conclusion

So you are sold out on the effectiveness of having more than one pair of running shoes?

My hope’s the case.

Please feel free to leave your comments and questions in the section below

In the meantime, thank you for dropping by.

Keep running strong.

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