Getting a new pair of running shoes is always exciting. Most of us can’t wait to lace them up and head out the door for a run… But sometimes, we end up hobbling back because we haven’t given ourselves enough time to adjust to new our running shoes.
The good news is, taking the time to break in your running shoes isn’t as much of a long process as it used to be. But it does require time to get used to new shoes because they’re not going to feel quite the same as our old, worn-in ones. So how long does it take to break in running shoes?
Here’s what you need to know if you’ve recently got a new pair or if you’re about to buy a new pair of running shoes.
Why Should You Take the Time to Break in Running Shoes?
Running shoe technology has come a long way; these days, a pair of shoes is generally good to go right out of the box. But while the shoe may be top quality, it’s still important to take some time to adjust to the shoes.
Having your shoe mold to your foot is essential. A snug, contoured fit will help to prevent injuries like corns, calluses, blisters, hammer toes, and so on. Breaking your shoes in is particularly helpful in preventing chafing-related injuries or conditions.
Ultimately, if you don’t take the time to adjust to the shoes, you’re likely to find yourself running through some pain and discomfort. This can make a nice run miserable, so taking the time to get used to your new shoes is the right way to go.
How Long Does It Take to Break In Running Shoes?
There’s no set adjusting period for any given pair of shoes. It depends on multiple factors, but it can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks.
While every shoe is different and everyone’s feet are different, here’s some insight into how long certain shoes may take to break in.
The Same Shoe You’ve Been Wearing
If you buy the identical shoe you’ve been wearing, with no extra updates between your current shoe and this shoe, the adjustment period should be relatively short.
Your feet should be used to the shoe’s cushioning and stability features, but it’s important to note that the shoe still requires time for the materials to mold to your feet.
However, depending on how often you wear them in the first few days, you can expect around a week to adjust to them effectively.
Updated Model of Your Current Shoes
If your current shoe has been updated, you may or may not feel changes. It depends on the extent of the updates—if it’s a purely aesthetic, upper-only change, it’s likely to break in as easily as the exact pair you already have.
However, if substantial changes have been made to the shoe’s midsole, outsole, or stability features, it may take a little longer to adjust as your feet get used to the changes.
These should take a week to 2 weeks to break in properly. Depending on the changes, you may need to experiment with sock thickness and new lacing techniques to find the best fit.
Completely New Model or Brand
If you go for a completely new model or brand, something you haven’t worn before, you can expect up to 3 weeks to break them in.
Every shoe and brand is different, so your feet will need to get used to the shoes while the material conforms to your feet.
As the design and shape are likely to differ from the shoes you were initially wearing, your feet will take longer to adjust. You may need to wear the new shoes for shorter periods until your feet get used to them.
We don’t recommend going for a completely new make or model before an upcoming race. Rather stick to something you’re familiar with and save the big changes for your next training cycle.
When to Buy Shoes Before an Upcoming Race
We all know the saying, “Nothing new on race day.” It’s well-known for a reason—using any new gear without taking the time to adjust is a recipe for disaster!
If you’ve got a big race and you’ve been training hard, it’s tempting to invest in a brand new pair of shoes for the big day. While the thought may be nice, lacing up a pair of shoes for the first time on race day is never a good idea.
So when is the best time to buy new shoes before race day? Ideally, you want to give yourself 3 to 4 weeks before the race to adjust to your new shoes, even if you’ve bought the same make and model as you’ve been training in.
Now is a great time to rotate between your current pair and your new pair. Aim to get 25 to 50 miles on the new pair before your race—on the road, excluding a few hours of wear at home to help your feet adjust. That way, your feet should be well-adjusted to how they feel and perform by the time your race comes.
A new pair of shoes guarantees optimal cushioning and protection during your race. But giving them a few weeks beforehand ensures there won’t be any problems on race day. You can run with peace of mind and comfort of feet!
How to Adjust to New Running Shoes
Assuming you’ve chosen a completely new shoe and need to adjust to them properly, here are the steps we suggest to adjust to them quickly and safely.
Even if you aren’t trying to break them in quickly for an upcoming race, these tips will help your feet and shoes adjust to each other fast and comfortably.
Wear Them Around the House
Wearing your shoes around the house when you’re just relaxing is the first step. Your feet will start to get a feel for the shoes, where there may be small problem areas, and how they sit on your feet.
The little walking you’ll be doing at home should be enough to allow the shoes to stretch and contour to the shape and size of your feet. You can do this for a few days—experiment with different socks as well to see what feels best to you.
Try Them On a Treadmill
If you’ve got access to a treadmill, it’s the next logical step. Here, you can do a short, relaxed run to see how they feel under running conditions without adding too much wear and tear to the outsoles.
Most retailers will allow you to return the shoes if they haven’t been worn outdoors, so this is an excellent step to ensure the shoes are truly for you before you decide if you need to return them.
If you don’t have a treadmill at home, we recommend visiting a gym or visiting a friend who has a treadmill to test the shoes.
Start With Short Runs
Once you’ve spent a few hours walking around the house and jogging on the treadmill, you can graduate with a short run in your new shoes. Stick to an easy pace, run for around 30 minutes, and give or take a few.
This is enough time for your shoes to start adapting to the pace and impact. Avoid speedwork, hill runs, or long distances at this point, until the shoes have been on a few easy runs.
Alternate With Your Current Shoes
Rotating running shoes is an excellent idea. Once you know you can run in your new shoes, rotate between them and your old ones for at least a few weeks before you transition into using the new ones full-time.
Not only does this help to break in your new shoes while reducing wear on the old ones, but rotating your running shoes is also known to help reduce injury.
A recent study discovered that rotating your running shoes can reduce your risk of developing running-related injuries by almost 40 percent!
Fix Lagging Issues
Once you’ve worn your shoes for a little while, you should have a good idea of the niggling issues that are bugging you about them.
For example, your left big toe rubs on the upper. Or they’re a little tight in the midfoot. At this point, you can start taking steps to fix these small issues.
Try to line problem chafing areas with moleskin, or make sure you’re moisturizing your feet. You may also want to take extra measures to soften parts of the shoes that are still stiff and may be rubbing because of that.
To soften areas or stretch shoes to fit your feet better, consider heating your shoes up a bit. This could make them more moldable, which might help them to break in faster.
Use a hairdryer—never place them on a heater, in the dryer, or direct sunlight. Once they’re warm, put them on immediately and walk around in them, flexing your feet as you do so.