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How To: Break In New Shoes

It’s a tale as old as time; runner needs shoes, runner puts off getting shoes, that same runner finally breaks down and buys a new pair, runner procrastinates using them until they absolutely have to and then is afraid of blisters/chaffing/etc. I have been there MANY times. Even though I know the importance of good shoes with proper tread and cushioning, I hate change.

If I can’t get the same shoe version and model I feel like a fish out of water. Luckily though I’ve broken in shoes incorrectly enough to know how to do it the RIGHT way.

Starting with the basics of shoe buying:

  • Do go to your local running store to try it on vs buying online. Not only are you shopping local BUT a good running store can help analyze your walk, stride, etc., and have in-depth knowledge of the shoes they sell/what they are good for.

  • Don’t buy on looks—most of the shoes are ugly or won’t go with any of the clothes you have; just deal with that.

  • Do bring your normal running socks, insoles, or anything else you usually use on your feet for runs. This way you are trying on the shoes with all the bells and whistles to get an accurate feel for the shoe.

  • Don’t stick your nose up at other brands. While it’s important to try brands you know and are comfortable with, don’t get stuck being brand loyal. Try different ones on in the store even if you don’t think they’ll work

Now that you’ve bought a brand new pair of shoes that you think will work, it’s time to get them in the rotation.

Contrary to popular belief, running shoes actually shouldn’t need breaking in. This doesn’t mean go out and run a half marathon your first run with them but you should be able to knock out a couple of miles straight out of the box.

Other than tinkering with the laces and dusting off the initial newness it should be a pretty flawless transition. If you notice pain, major discomfort, or any aches that weren’t there before the shoes; proceed with caution. If those issues flair up it COULD be an indication that the shoes aren’t right for you. This is why you will still want to ease them into the rotation and not do your long run with them until you are sure they are the right ones for you. Usually if after a few runs you aren’t loving them—take them back. Most stores have a general return policy/exchange program so that you aren’t stuck with the shoes or out a good chunk of change.

As always there are some exceptions to the above info:

New heel drop height (going lower or higher): You will need to break them in a little bit by a little bit and give yourself an extra few runs to adjust. My rule of thumb is to try them every third run or so on shorter distances until you feel comfortable.

Carbon plated shoes: These aren’t the type of shoes you use on all of your runs. Truthfully, you shouldn’t even run in that much until race day. They are expensive and they wear out faster than everyday running shoes. Try them out on a few shorter runs and then a medium-long run to make sure you like them and then hold them until race time. You want them fresh, cushiony, and ready to attack the goal race—Don’t waste them on your easy runs day after day.

What are your favorite shoes? Do you stay with one brand or play the field?

Send me all the shoe recommendations!

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