Besides the fact that some of you might find it enjoyable to buy new running shoes, studies have shown that it is actually beneficial to your running and your wallet (go tell that to your spouse!) to rotate multiple running shoes in a week. Using multiple shoes throughout the week reduces the chance of injury but also: in the long run (hehe) it saves you money as your shoes actually last longer! This is what my running shoe rotation looks like.
Running shoe rotation, why would I?
But first lets take a deeper look into why you should actually take up a running shoe rotation. Here are three arguments that hopefully convince you.
#1 Different shoes, different purpose
All running shoes are different and there is a few categories of shoes. There’s shoes for trail running, recovery days, easy runs, long runs, tempo runs, track shoes, racing shoes.
You don’t want to go out doing a recovery run on a carbon plated super shoe (are they still super? or are they just shoes now? every brand has a super shoe nowadays). And for the sake of argument: you don’t want to be doing a long run on your track spikes either. Although I doubt anyone has ever done that.
In both cases you won’t come out of your run too happy. Going too slow on a carbon plated shoe actually costs more energy than it would on a normal shoe. Carbon plated shoes help in propelling you forward, but only if you lean forward a little and you either land midfoot or slightly front foot. On an easy or recovery run you generally land a little more back and you don’t lean forward so much. And for long runs on track spikes… I guess that does not need much explaining.
#2 Injury prevention
According to this 2013 study, a running shoe rotation can reduce the risk of injury. The idea behind it is that switching shoes you’re adding variation to the load applied to the musculoskeletal system, as each shoe behaves a little different under foot. In layman’s terms you become more whole as a runner and because the impact differs a fraction you balance out the impact throughout your week
#3 Shoes last longer
As opposed to what you might think, using multiple shoes throughout the week actually makes your shoes last longer. Running shoes all have some sort of EVA (foam) in the sole of the shoe. With all that pounding of the feet the foam looses some of its bounciness. However, if you give your shoe some time off (24-48 hours) that helps the shoe in coming back to it’s original shape again, as opposed to pounding on it day after day.
The initial cost of having a shoe rotation might be more expensive, eventually you’ll end up with shoes that last longer. Money wise, if you are a long distance runner, having a shoe rotation can actually save you quite some pesos!
Become a better runner
The key takeaway of this post is that by having a running shoe rotation properly set up you actually can become a better runner. You are training your body to constantly adapt to slight differences in shoes and this is the right trigger for your musculoskeletal system. I can relate to this, I really feel the difference between running around in my cushioned Hoka’s, or my endorphin speeds or vaporfly’s.
My running shoe rotation
My shoe rotation depends on the season. Not the weather, but the running season. My shoe rotation in racing season differs from that in the off-season. This holds for both in types of shoe that are in my rotation as well as to what shoe I pick on each day.
In the racing season I go for shoes that are slightly faster and lighter as I do all my runs faster in racing season (also my easy runs and recovery runs are a fraction faster as my fitness is peaking). In racing season you’ll see me run around with Hoka Mach 4 and 5 for long runs, whereas I could easily go for Asics gliderides or the New Balance fresh foam 1080s in the off season.
Running shoe rotation in racing season
Recovery runs (the slowest runs)
Hoka Mach 4 and 5 (I still have a pair of 4s laying around so i’ll finish those and then go to 5). This shoe is actually one of the best all rounders. I have done tempo work on them, long runs, easy runs, recovery runs. If you go buy one shoe only (which I advice against), it should be this one.
Easy runs (my day to day staple run)
This could either be the Hoka mach 4/5, or as it was this year: Asics Noosa Tri 14 (link to women’s version). Some find the aesthetics hideous. I love it. When I first had this shoe on my feet, I felt like flying. To me this is the best tempo trainer without a plate. I have done long runs in them, I have done tempo work in them. And in racing season they are great for daily miles.
Ever since Saucony introduced the first Endorphin speed I fell in love with this shoe. This is my definite pick for a tempo shoe. It has a plate (but made of plastic instead of carbon) and it is springy and speedy. This really is a fast shoe.
But: to make them last a little longer, early on in the season I sometimes take out a different shoe (this year the Noosa tri 14, which is a different but satisfying experience) for tempo work too! I don’t do that when I got closer to raceday when my tempo’s become more race specific, then I try to mimic race day as much as possible.
When it is just a long easy run I take out something like the Mach 4, the Noosa tri 14, or on the trails the Hoka speedgoat 5. When it is a long run with tempo finish I pick the endorphin speed. That’s why early in the season I save my speed’s a little. I make lot’s of long runs on them when I get closer to race day.
And once or twice in the season I do a long run on my racing shoes.
Speaking of racing shoes, this year it is the Nike Vaporfly next %2. But by now, they are really done. In 2023 it will be the Asics Metaspeed Sky+. I have become quite an Asics fan lately. If they would find something that competes with the Saucony endorphin speed line, I could be a full Asics adapt. But then again… I would seriously miss my Hoka’s… or my Saucony’s…
Running Shoe rotation in the off-season
In the off-season I take it a little different. I swap my long run shoe for something that lasts. I want to spend a little less on shoes when I don’t need to. I would pick a new balance fresh foam 1080. It easily goes 1200km. I don’t use the mach 4/5 that much in the off season, the durability is a serious problem for me.
Recovery runs I do in either my long run shoe or my easy day shoe. Last year I used the Asics Glideride or the Fresh foam 1080s (a different generation of them). I found the glideride too heavy on my feet so I won’t do that this year.
For tempo work I stick with endorphin speed when it is not too slippy outside (like leaves and stuff), when it is too slippery, I pick out the mach 4/5 as a substitute, but as I said I don’t really use them in the off season so much.
As a final remark: here’s the gear I use on a daily basis
How about you, do you have a running shoe rotation? Why/Why not?