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How Long Does It Take To Break In Running Shoes?

Whether it’s a new pair of running shoes or street shoes, it can take some time to get used to them so they aren’t uncomfortable or causing blisters.

In this article, we’ll discuss the best ways to incorporate a new pair of shoes into your running routine.

We’ll talk about how to handle new shoes before an upcoming race, new versions of shoes you’ve worn before, and new shoes that you’ve never worn. We’ll add in additional tips for purchasing new shoes. Let’s get started!

Breaking in Running Shoes

Typically, when you buy new running shoes, they are good right out of the box. There is no “breaking in” time needed. In the past, when shoes were not made with such comfortable materials, they did take a bit of time to soften up. But not these days. Shoes are soft and plush straight from the factory. Personally, though, I like to break in my running shoes to get my feet adjusted to them and to avoid blisters.

I’ll start with wearing them around the house for a day or two. I’ll then take them out for a couple of short runs of 1-3 miles. After that, I’ll start running in them consistently.

This has helped me to avoid blisters and get used to a new pair of shoes. You too might consider building up use.

How to Handle New Shoes and an Upcoming Race

What’s rule #1 in racing? “Nothing new on race day.” Don’t try new foods, don’t try a new sleep routine, don’t wear a brand new shirt. And definitely don’t put on a pair of running shoes for the first time. If you have an upcoming race, especially one that you’ve spent a lot of time training for or one that you’re hoping to PR in, you shouldn’t use a brand new pair of shoes. And that’s true even if it’s a new pair of the same brand and model that you’ve worn before.

In order to give your feet and body time to get used to the new shoes, ideally, you should buy a new pair 3-4 weeks before the race. Even if your current pair is still runnable, it’s sound advice to have a new pair ready.

Start to incorporate the new pair into 2-3 runs each week and try to get 25-50 miles on a new pair before you use it in a race. Also, this is not the time for completely different shoes. Don’t get something drastically different from what you’ve been training in.

Instead, buy the same pair or something similar. Wait until after the race if you want to make a big change, and start a new training cycle with those shoes.

Getting a new pair of running shoes before a race ensures that you will have plenty of cushioning and support. In a similar vein, running in them beforehand gives you peace of mind that they won’t cause problems on race day.

New Versions of Your Current Shoes

While it might technically have the same name, a new version of your current shoes is a different pair of shoes. Typically, running companies update their shoes once per year. Sometimes it’s cosmetic changes like color or design while other times it’s significant structural changes.

If your current shoe has been updated, take it out for a few trial runs to make sure that it doesn’t cause pain or blisters even if it was just updated with cosmetic changes. Remember: it’s still a new pair of running shoes.

New Shoes That You’ve Never Run in Before

Take your time when switching to a completely new shoe. It’s especially important to take them for a few trial runs to make sure they doesn’t cause pain or blisters. I typically wear New Balance shoes, and I wanted to start rotating between these shoes and a pair of ASICS.

But ASICS is a very different type of shoe from New Balances. ASICS fit snugly and are super responsive. New Balance tends to be roomier and plusher. I slowly eased into the change, gradually adding in runs of increasingly longer distances into my routine. It worked well, and I haven’t had any issues.

You should especially do this if you’re switching to something very different, like from a minimal shoe to a max cushion shoe, or a racing flat to a shoe with a different drop.

Things to Look For When Running in a New Pair of Shoes

Just got a new pair of running shoes? You should consider a couple of questions when you start breaking them in.

How is the Overall Comfort and Fit?

When you walk in the shoes, does it feel good? Check to make sure that the cushioning and structure feel okay. While you’re obviously not going to walk in them, this can be a way to check errors.

More importantly, do they feel good running? Does the cushioning and structure still feel okay? Does your foot feel held in without being overly tight?

Is Your Foot Moving Around While You Run?

There’s a difference between a shoes that is roomy and a shoe that doesn’t fit. Obviously, you don’t want your foot moving around in your shoe while you run. If you do experience this, first check to see if it’s laced to correct tightness before throwing them out. I know I personally have discovered how much of a difference good lacing can make.

Also, make sure that you don’t feel any hot spots. Those are prime areas for blisters to develop later on, which is the last thing you want.

Does the Shoe Feel Like It’s Impeding Your Stride?

Running shoes should promote your running stride. If you feel uncomfortable running, or like something doesn’t feel quite right, check to see if your shoes are impeding your stride.

Your running shoes should feel like a natural extension of your foot. If they don’t, that pair might not be the best pair for you.

Do You Have Any Discomfort Post-Run?

Finally, it’s all well and good to have a great run with a new pair of shoes. But check your feet after your run for sore spots, blisters, and pain.

While you might be able to avoid blisters and sore spots if you break the shoes in, it might also be a hint that these aren’t the best shoes for you.

Tips for Buying New Running Shoes

Thinking about buying new running shoes? Keep these tips in mind. It can be helpful to go to a running store because they can tell you what’s changed in a model and suggest new shoes that will work for you.

You can also test out new running shoes at a running store before buying, especially if the running shoe you love has updated or you are trying a new model. If you decide to buy online, buy from a store that lets you return shoes after going for a run or two.

If you’re not able to find the shoes you want in an online store that allows returns, or if you’ve tried running shoes that aren’t right for you but it’s too late to return them, you can often sell them on eBay to get some money back.

On a related note, eBay might also be a way for you to get some new running shoes that have been barely used if you’re interested in trying a new shoe but don’t want to pay the full price.

That’s what one of my friends who is a runner does. It doesn’t work every time – sometimes the shoes are not quite the right fit. But most of the time, it works out great for him, and he’s gone through a lot of shoes.

Concluding Thoughts

We all know the phrase “if the shoe fits.” As runners, we know just how important it is to make sure everything fits properly. While it technically doesn’t take any time at all to break in new running shoes, you still ought to want to.

If you want to ease your feet and body into new shoes, spending a week to break them in. It can make a world of difference. You definitely want to do this if you have an upcoming race. There’s no sense in wrecking your training when you can just order shoes earlier.

In the end, as we’ve said in other articles, the right running shoe is the one that fits you well. Comfort is the key to a good running shoe, and if it takes you a week or two (along with re-lacing your shoes!) to get comfortable, then it’s worth it.

Rachel Basinger
The Wired Runner