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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Shoe Rotation (and shopping)

I’m lucky with shoes. I can wear just about anything. When I started running I always just bought whatever was at the big box shoe store. The shoe did not really matter very much when I was only running 3 miles at a time a couple of times a week. In fact, my running shoes were my everyday shoes. I mowed the lawn in them, I wore them to work, and I played volley ball in them. It just did not matter.


I wore my ‘running shoes’ like this for years. As my mileage picked up I started to feel the age of the shoes. After 9 or 10 months my joints would start to hurt. A new pair of shoes would be the remedy. Around this time I also discovered outlet malls. I would time my shoe purchases and to maximize the value I would purchase several pairs of the same shoe. I have been running in Reebok’s, not exclusively, for about 8 years now. Their outlet mall stores always have buy 1 get 1 at 50% off. Also, they have 40% off coupons several times a year.

Last year, while putting up big mileage training for an ironman and then even bigger mileage training for a marathon I had 4 pairs of Reeboks – two pair of white/red and white/blue. The different colors were different models but they were similar. Since they looked the same I had to number them. For the marathon, I wrote on the inside heel – MG1 and MG2 for Mardi Gras 1 and 2. This allowed for me keep track of the shoes and rotate them effectively.

I am not that obsessive about the tracking the rotation. I do not record the mileage on each individual pair of shoes. I do however track the mileage on the set of shoes. Below are some tips from Super Dave at Road Runner Sports:

1. First, start with two pair of shoes that both have less than 250 miles on them. If they're the same model, mark one pair as A and the other B. To rotate most effectively, keep track of the mileage you've put on each pair.

2. The newest pair (lowest mileage) should be used for your longer runs and your competitive racing.

3. The older pair (highest mileage) should be used for your shorter runs, inclement weather runs or your offroad runs if you aren't using a trail shoe.

4. Keep the older pair in the rotation until you've run 450 miles in them. At that point, it's time to "boot" your old pair and bring a new pair into the rotation.


Along with injury prevention I think rotation between different models of shoes helps to strengthen my ankles and feet. The variety helps me to eliminate any hot spots that can develop running everyday – but like I said, I am fortunate and I can run in just about any neutral (high arches) type of shoe.


In addition, rotating your shoes also allows for the foam in sole to decompress. This will increase the life span of the running shoes. I read something that said rotation two pairs of shoes should give you the mileage of three pairs. So buying four pairs might give me the mileage of 6 or seven pairs!


I keep a pair of shoes in my gym locker that are for short runs (I run about 6 miles at lunch most days of the week) and I keep I keep a pair at home for long runs. Every couple of week these pairs of shoes will be rotated with the fresh pairs. It will be easier this time since each pair is a different color.

So I went to the outlet mall a few weeks ago and procured all of the shoes that I will need to train / race me through to the Mardi Gras Marathon in February and then Boston in April. I can usually get between 250 and 450 miles per pair of shoes. With 4 new pairs shoes it should easily be enough to train, race 4 half marathons, a 12K, a 25K , a 30k and 2 marathons. At an average of 50 miles per week that will be right at 1600 miles.

2 pair of Reeboks and 2 pair of Under Armour (new at the outlet mall)

How many pairs of running shoes are currently in your closet? (I’ll count mine tonight - although I am afraid to know just how many pairs I have.)

15 comments:

  1. Currently 3 pairs of shoes in our cabinet. I have retired 2 of them already. I have always wanted to rotate shoes but never had the mental fortitude to follow through with it. I may start now though, you gave some good arguments.

    I have to wear a similar shoe. I have a neutral shoe and a mild supportive shoe both Brooks, they have been pretty good to me lately. I cannot get over 200 miles a pair though, I start feeling achy on the runs and know its time to bale.

    This spring I kept running on a finished pair and got some severe shin splints, new shoes, no problems.

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  2. I rotate 4 pair of shoes, and I use them exactly as mentioned. My highest mileage shoes are used for my shorter runs. My lowest mileage shoe, I use for racing, the 2nd lowest mileage for long runs. Before rotating, I was lucky to get 300, if really lucky 400. Now that I rotate, I can get 500 miles. Yippee! I go through a LOT of shoes, so that extra mileage helps.

    When I find shoes on sale, I stock up too. I prefer different colored shoes, but if they are the same color, I tie a small piece of colored ribbon on the lace of the shoe and keep up with the mileage that way.

    Terry recommend this software for training documentation. It will track your shoe mileage. http://www.pegasussoftware.com/runlog/default.htm

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  3. Good post James!

    I rotate 3 pair right now and use the newest pair for the long runs. I also just did some wear testing for Brooks of a Gortex running shoe so I use that when it is raining - which is rare for us right now! I log my workouts at beginnertriathlete and they have an equipment option so that is how I keep track of the miles on each shoe!

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  4. Love this. YAY for 4!!

    Currently [just running shoes]9. Yep NINE.

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  5. i just got rid of/donated over 30 pairs of old running shoes! lol. I had them all in a bag in my parent's basement. needless to say, they are thrilled! :-) right now i'm running in 2 pairs.

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  6. Awesome looking shoes. I only have 2 pairs of running shoes. I REALLY wear them out!

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  7. great information

    has anyone done a graph of when in a shoes life it produces the best times for the runner? Just after breaking in? After 20 mi? When?

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  8. That would be interesting. I like a shoe that is just broken in - not much wear but not brand new - maybe 20 miles on it.

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  9. I am down to only having one pair! Just donated all of my shoes 2 weeks ago...felt good.

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  10. I have been wearing 2 pairs and rotating for years. I keep track of their age by writing the date on them when I buy them. I also distinguish between which pair was worn last by leaving my orthotics in that pair.

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  11. I rotate three pairs and buy a new pair about every 60 days. As for the total number of shoes in my closet, I don't dare even publish that number here...

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  12. Now that I have found a pair of shoes that work for me, I need to get another pair in the rotation. I basically have lawn mowing shoes and running shoes right now.

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  13. Great idea. I have a hard time keeping track of the miles on my shoes and pay the price when they end up worn out. I've been rotating my neutrals with stability only as needed since I transitioned to the lighter neutral shoes after my foot injury. I think I'll buy a second pair and label them now!

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  14. I have many pairs of sneakers. Actually it was a topic of one of my first blog posts. I have at least 10 pair of sneakers. Some are now everyday sneakers, some are almost brand new as they weren't right for me and I have about four or five pairs that I run in. I have not tracked the miles on them but really should. also don't have them in a rotation. I should think about this.

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  15. I currently have 2 pairs in the rotation, but if you want to count former running shoes then I probably have at least 10-12 pairs sitting around. I'm just not good at letting them go! I did donate about 8 pairs a few months ago for one of those Africa projects, go me :)

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