Breaking in new running shoes

Shoes are one of the most important pieces of gear when it comes to running. Making sure you get the right shoes is key. 

woman tieing her running shoes

So, which pair do you buy?

It’s easier than you think to get a pair just for you. Skip asking friends or other runners.

Go to a good running shoe specialty store, they’ll watch you walk, measure your foot and get you several pairs of shoes to try that meet all of your needs. They’ll also make sure you get the right size shoes and avoid an ill-fitting pair based on your foot shape. 

I have a couple of pairs of running shoes that I rotate for my runs. Getting a good fit is important because not all shoes are made for you. 

Making sure you test out your new shoes properly is important to breaking them in. Poorly fit running shoes can cause you to change your gait, which can lead to a host of injuries. It might be subtle but it won’t take long to wear down on you. 

One thing to keep in mind when getting new running shoes is that some stores will not let you return new shoes if they look like they’ve been on a run. Make sure to ask about the store’s policy.

It’s not that you want to wear them and return them for no reason. It’s really so important to try the shoes out because it’s hard to tell with a short jog inside a store or down their sidewalk if they are the ones for you. 

How to break in new running shoes

The way shoes are made these days, most shoes don’t need to be “broken in.” What really needs to happen is your body needs a chance to adjust to the new shoes especially if they are showing signs that it’s time for a new pair.

When you put shoes on and start running, they should feel comfortable.  If you’re getting the exact same model of shoes they might feel a little stiffer, or they might actually feel more cushioned if your pair is worn out. But they should feel good.

When I first started running, I ran in Brooks running shoes before falling in love with a Newton Distance shoe.

I am currently a HOKA ONE shoe runner. I am rotating HOKA Bondi and HOKA Clifton Edge shoes in my runs. It’s almost time to buy a new pair of HOKA Bondi’s.

woman wearing a pair of hoka running shoes in the parking lot

Runners should always make a point to an adjustment period, even if they are the exact same model or a brand new style. 

These 5 strategies will help you properly break in your running shoes and give your body time to adjust to the different support and materials of your new shoes.

Getting the right fit

Running shoes should fit properly right off the bat, even before you break them in. Overall the shoe should feel secure without feeling too tight, snug or constricting. The shoe should feel comfortable, cushioning and support the foot.

Go on a walk

Go for a good walk or two before you run in them. Did you get any spots that might blister? How do your toes feel in the toe box? What about the heel? 

If you’re uncomfortable on a walk, there is no way these shoes will make it on a run of any distance. 

Go on a short run

Definitely take them on a short run first. There’s nothing worse than getting a few miles away from your house or car with the feel of a blister forming. 

Phase them in

Gradually introduce your new shoes into your running routine. After taking them for a short run, try incorporating them into some hill repeats or even a mid-distance run. It’s easier to switch them out for a couple of weeks as your body and feet adjust. 

Phasing them in slowly can help avoid potential changes to your form or foot strike that could occur with a sudden change in support.

Listen to your body

Pay attention to your entire body – not just your feet. Be aware of any aches or pains you may have been feeling before transitioning to the new shoes.

Listening to your body and being present on the run is especially crucial while you break in your running shoes. Is that ache or pain something that naturally occurs for pushing yourself through your run or is it a symptom from the new shoes? 

With just a little effort your body will adapt to the change and adjust to your new shoes seamlessly. Before you know it, you’ll be logging miles and those “new” shoes will no longer be new.

When was the last time you purchased a new pair of running shoes?

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