Breaking in New Running Shoes
Shoe brands do a great job of providing running shoes that are good to wear right out of the box. We had this old misperception that running shoes needed days to be “broken in” before we could go for a run in them. Times have changed. Shoes are ready to go once you take them out of the box and put ‘em on your feet!
Ready to Go
Running shoes are pliable, easily molded to your foot, and ready to go once you lace them up. If the brand and the style are what you’re used to, for example, the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 17 to Brooks Adrenaline GTS 18, you’re more than likely ready to run them right out of the box. If you’re switching brands or switching styles, you may want to break in the shoes for a day.
When You Should Break Shoes In
I would be cautious about wearing brand new running shoes on race day. There could be spots on the shoe – the upper, the toe box, the heel – where something rubs your foot the wrong way and blisters can form. You really wouldn’t want bad blisters on race day, especially if that day is a marathon.
To break in new running shoes, I suggest wearing them around the house for a few hours. If you don’t feel any bad spots, then you’re more than likely ready to go. I still wouldn’t wear new shoes the week of a race, but that’s more of a personal preference rather than the rule.
How to Choose Running Shoes
There are potentially a half-dozen shoes that are a good fit for you. Don’t focus so much on the brand, but yet, focus more on the shoes within a brand. Each company – Nike, Adidas, Asics, Brooks, Hoka One One, etc – all make shoes that are comparable to each other. So, for example, Nike and Brooks both make lightweight neutral shoes. They also make cushion shoes for high-end stability wearers.
What you’ll want to do is find out what kind of shoe you need – do you need a stable shoe or a neutral shoe or something in between? Once you know what kind of foot you have, you’ll want to go to each brand and find a shoe that feels comfortable on your foot. That might mean you have to try on 4 or 5 shoes. There’s nothing wrong with that!
Keep in mind that a specialty running store – like Dave Welsh’s Haddonfield Running Company, Craig Segal’s Runner’s High, or Scott Tantino’s North Wales Running Company – can properly take care of your foot and shoe needs. They’ll watch how you run and make sure you’re in the right type of shoe. Not all big box stores can and will do that for you.
What’s your strategy for breaking in new shoes? Do you wait or do you dive right in? I don’t think there’s a right or a wrong – except for race week/day. I wouldn’t wear new shoes that close to a big race. You never know what might could pop up – blisters, rubbing, or even worse.
Try doing a few long runs in a new pair and rotate between your old pair and your new pair until your old pair is dead.