At some point, you will need a new pair of running shoes. Whether you are guilty of running your shoes into the ground, buying the wrong pair because they are the hot new trend, or using one pair of shoes for everything, this guide will serve as a jumping-off point to getting you into the right pair for you.
RULE #1: If they are uncomfortable, they are the wrong shoes.
- Your shoes should not be at cost of comfort, especially as a 70.3 or IRONMAN athlete. Your best performance is contingent upon being comfortable in your shoes.
- Some shoes can have a 4-5 run “break-in” period, but if you feel hot-spots, develop blisters, or have general foot and/or lower leg discomfort, it might be worth reconsidering if those are the right shoes for you.
- If possible, do not introduce new shoes the week of your race.
RULE #2 - Rotate through a few pairs of shoes, rather than running one pair into the ground.
- Our recommendation is ideally to have 3 pairs on rotation.
- Endurance shoes: Likely a bit more cushioned and supportive (if you run a lot of trails, then a trail shoe is also smart choice).
- Tempo/Interval shoes: If you know for a fact you can complete interval workouts at a faster pace than your endurance runs, you will benefit from a pair of lighter, more responsive shoes to improve your reaction and feel for the ground.
- Gym shoes!: Yes, these absolutely need to be different than your running shoes! Get a different pair of shoes for lifting, ideally with very low cushioning or “stack height,” and minimal support. If you are lifting heavy and forget your gym shoes, you can lift in socks or barefoot.
- Varying your shoes will keep your feet and lower leg from falling into a monotonous movement pattern that can lead to overstress.
RULE #3 - Avoid trying to correct running mechanics with your shoes.
- Unless you have been directly prescribed a certain pair of shoes from a doctor or highly specialized therapist, don’t try to fix your running gait or mechanics with a pair of shoes.
- For example, if you are an over-pronator, don’t just buy “stability” shoes to prevent you from over-pronating. Instead, work on your hip mobility and balance to work yourself out of that habit with some neutral sneakers.
- In fact, sometimes changing up the shoes you might “think” you need can help strengthen a weakness if used properly and in small doses.
RULE #4 - Don’t be a sucker for marketing tactics.
- Just because a shoe is popular or “top of the line” does not mean that it is the perfect shoe for you. It is the job of shoe companies to make the best shoes they can and to get as many people as they can to buy them. What works for one athlete might be to the detriment of another, so be an educated consumer.
- Where can I educate myself on shoe options?
- Your local running company or store! A foot scan is never a bad idea (to determine perfect size, width, heel drop needs, etc).
- Research on a non-biased review site such as Running Warehouse or Fleet Feet.
- Experiment at smart times…aka test shoes in the postseason, not throwing that into the mix during race season.