First off, be sure to check out my guest post over at Run to the Finish! I’m thrilled and honored to be talking about Mastering the 10K over at Amanda’s blog, which is one of my favorite running blogs. And after I finished writing that post I’ve been itching to race another 10K soon. It’s such a fun distance, just like the half, where you can push yourself hard but not wipe yourself out like a marathon.
Speaking of training and racing, I want to think out loud today and talk about running shoes.
Over the years I’ve switched running shoes several times. I start running in Nikes, which just weren’t write for how neutral of a shoe I needed for my supination. I then ran in minimalist Merrells, which were great until I started running longer distances. I then switched to Brooks Pure Flow and Pure Connect, until my beloved Pure Connects were discontinued and the new Pure Flow hurt my feet just when trying them on. As many regular readers know, I switched to Saucony Kinvara and so far have loved these shoes.
If you’re in a similar situation of facing a discontinuation of your favorite running shoe, don’t despair. Follow these tips on how to switch to a new pair of running shoes and you’ll be loving your new pair in no time.
How to Switch to a New Pair of Running Shoes (Without Getting Injured)
It’s Not the Shoes, It’s You (and Your Training)
First off, don’t develop a crutch with any shoe. That one particular model is not what made you fast enough to run your most recent PR; you ran your best times based on your training and your own abilities as a runner. Yes, the right shoes make the difference, but no one shoe is a magic bullet (despite what marketing wants you to believe).
So don’t panic if your favorite shoe is discontinued or redesigned. There are hundreds of different running shoes out there, and more than one of them is right for you.
Pick a New Shoe with Similar Features
When you switch to a new shoe, look for shoes with similar stability, drop, and cushion. My Pure Connects were a neutral shoe with a 4mm drops and light and flexible cushioning, so I searched for a shoe with the same features.
Most running shoe websites will list the heel height, toe height, drop, and stability of a shoe, so with a little research you can easily find a replacement shoe. The staff at your local running store will also help you pick out a similar shoe, as they’re knowledgeable about what different brands have to offer.
Most importantly, the new shoe should feel similar. There will likely be some differences, but it shouldn’t feel as if you’ve switched from zero drop Altras to maximalist Hoka One Ones. You’ll know with a few runs if your new pair of running shoes feels similar; if it doesn’t, return it and try again.
Ask Around Social Media
If your favorite shoe has been discontinued, chances are there are hundreds of other runners on the same new shoe search as you! Use Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to ask other runners what shoes they wear. Shoe reviews and running store recommendations are useful, but the advice from runners who log hundreds of miles in those shoes is invaluable.
Ease in the New Shoe
Don’t take a new-to-you model out for a test run on your 15 miler. Introduce new shoes to your feet with shorter runs of 45 minutes or less. If you do not experience significant discomfort or any problems, gradually extend the duration of your runs in those shoes.
I’d recommend at least a couple weeks of running before you race in new shoes. You want to make sure they won’t cause any painful blisters or throw off your running form when it really matters.
I also don’t recommend wearing your new shoes for the first time on the treadmill, unless you run on the treadmill frequently. The belt of the treadmill alters your running gait, foot strike, and form. This means the shoes won’t feel the same on the treadmill as they do outside. To get a more accurate feel for your new shoes, wear them on your usual outdoor route.
Expect Possible Mild Soreness in Your Feet
Different models of running shoes each work your foot, calf, and leg muscles in a unique way. Rotating your shoes helps strengthen different muscles, but even then, you may notice some slight soreness in your feet or ankles after the first few runs. The soreness should alleviate in a few days as you adapt to the new shoes; if it persists for over a week, then you need to try another pair.
Have Fun with the Process
Running shouldn’t be stressful; most of us do it because it’s fun! While it can be frustrating to see a favorite shoe discontinued and overwhelming to choose from so many options, choosing a new pair of running shoes should not be a stressful process. Have fun with getting to shop for new shoes, try on different pairs, and maybe pick a new fun color. An element of fun will make the whole process easier.
What’s your running shoe history?
When was the last time you switched brands of running shoes?
What other advice would you add?