Last Updated: September 3rd, 2022
Getting a new pair of running shoes is exciting…most of us cannot wait to try it out and run in it. But before the excitement gets the better of you, let’s break it in…but how to break in new running shoes? Find out in this detailed post…
How to break in new running shoes?
To break in new running shoes, there are the things that you can do:
Select the right pair of running shoes for your feet
This is probably the most important thing when it comes to breaking into new running shoes. If the running shoe pair is not suited for your feet, you will unnecessarily end up getting injured.
When you are selecting a new running shoe, focus on the amount of comfort rather than style. Especially, if you are training for longer races, then you should try to find the most comfortable pair possible. Even the slightest bit of discomfort can turn into an ugly blister or injury.
Not only comfort, but the shoe should also match your pronation. If you select a shoe that doesn’t support your pronation, then you will end up with ankle or calf injuries, which are more important than the thought about the time needed to break in the shoe.
Rather than thinking of breaking in the shoe fast, you should focus on picking the right pair. The shoe feels comfortable right out of the box.
Also, if you have special feet requirements like a bunion or high arches, then select accordingly. For a bunion, you should select something with more room in the to box. For high arches, you should have proper arch support.
Go for a walk
This is the easiest and the most gentle way to break in a new running shoe. This will help your feet to get accustomed to the shoe while making your shoe, ready for the more strenuous running events.
You can either go for walks around the blocks or, you can wear them at home and start them to break in.
I would not recommend wearing them for work when they are still new. This is because, if you are not comfortable in them, you will have to tolerate the pain throughout your already stressful workday.
You can take them to the gym or cross-training session also, but avoid doing so if you are a powerlifter.
Once you have already walked in them for a couple of days, then you can take them out for shorter runs.
Go for a short run
Now that, you have walked in these shoes for a couple of days, it is time to break them further and make them adapt to your running feet.
For that, the best option is to go for a short run. Anything between 20-30 mins is fine. You should stick to shorter runs for at least another couple of days.
Another option can be to take them on recovery runs. A couple of such runs, will make the shoe stretch and adapt to your feet and will be ready for longer runs if the need be.
Before you have run at least 3-4 shorter runs in them, don’t run long distances in them Also, before properly breaking in these running shoes, you should not do any kind of speedwork in them.
Use a shoe stretcher
Using a shoe stretcher is a quick way to stretch your running shoe. Generally, this method is used with a leather shoe, however, it works well with running shoes as well.
You just put the stretcher into the running shoe and expand it to the desired size using the screw-like handle.
Keep it for a day and you are done. The drawback to this is, the running shoe will not be of the shape of your feet. However, it will definitely increase the space within the shoe and make it comfortable. Plus, you don’t have to put in much effort in breaking in the shoe manually.
Include it in your shoe rotation
This is only possible if you have not used up all the miles of your previous shoe. In general, a running shoe lasts around 300-500 miles. If you purchase, another running shoe before all these miles are up, you will get a lot of time to break in the new running shoe.
What you can do is, take them out on the days when you will be running shorter distances.
This will also help you to reduce the chances of injuries.
Avoid hot areas for minimum blisters
One of the main reasons that we want to break in a running shoe as fast as possible is to minimize blisters.
In the more restricted areas, the fabric of the new shoe starts rubbing. This produces a bit of heat and the skin first develops a soreness and then a full-blown blister. They are painful, annoying, and need a lot of attention so that they don’t get infected.
Also, this means, you will have to stop the breaking-in process until your blister heals.
A way to avoid this is to stick some band-aid or duct tape in the areas where the fabric is rubbing. Follow this until the running shoe is fully broken in.
Another way to avoid this is to use a generous amount of moisturizer or vaseline on your feet. This reduces the friction greatly and you will be able to properly break in the running shoe without having to stop the process in the middle.
How long does it take to break in running shoes?
It takes a day to a month to break in running shoes depending on the model and the materials that are used. For running shoes with thicker soles, the breaking in time will be more than the ones with thinner soles.
The breaking-in time of a new running shoe depends on several factors:
- Model of the shoe
- Materials used
- Stiffness of the materials in both upper, midsole, and outsole.
- The thickness of the midsole.
If you are using a minimalist running shoe, the maximum time required to break it in will be around a couple of mins to an hour. However, if you are using a maximal running shoe, then the break-in time will be around a month.
Also, if you use specialized shoes like motion control, they use either different density foam in the midsole or use roller bar. This increases the overall stiffness of the midsole and comparatively increases the breaking in time. Similar is the case for most of the trail running shoes. However, in most cases, 2-3 weeks is the optimal time to break in your new running shoe.
The time needed to break in running shoes of different brands
- Altra – 2-3 weeks.
- Brooks – 1-3 weeks depending on the model.
- Adidas – 1-2 weeks. Generally, the ultra boost soles break in faster.
- New Balance – 1-2 weeks.
- Nike – 3-4 weeks. Based on my experience, these soles are a bit stiffer and take a bit more work to break in.
- Salomon – 2-3 weeks.
- Newton – 1-2 weeks. Some of the models with thinner soles actually take a bit lesser time than 1 week.
- Asics – 2-3 weeks depending on the model.
- Merrell – A couple of mins to an hour for the minimalist models. A week or two for the ones with thicker soles.
- Vibram Five Fingers – A couple of mins.
- On – 1-2 weeks depending on the model.
How many miles to break in running shoes?
To break in running shoes you need to run between 1 mile to 15 miles. Thinner soles need a lesser distance to break in whereas for thicker soles you would need upward of this limit.
In the market today, there are too many models of running shoes and each has its unique soles, components, and stiffness.
The amount of time needed to break in the sole is directly proportional to the thickness and stiffness of the sole as mentioned above. However, the time needed to stretch the upper is approximately similar for similar materials.
For example, if two different models of two different brands use only cloth kind of material, the stretching time will be almost similar. However, if you are comparing faux leather with cloth, then the miles required to break in these two materials will be completely different.
How to break in trail running shoes?
To break in trail running shoes, you need to start with short walks, then go for short runs and include them in your shoe rotation. Alternatively, you can use a shoe stretcher for a faster break-in.
However, when trying to break in trail running shoes, don’t try to run on roads. I know this is obvious, however, I have seen people make this common mistake.
Instead, take them on trails and follow the above methods.
You may be tempted to exclude the walking part of this whole running shoes breaking in process and that is understandable. If the trail is at a distance and you are driving there, walking may be the last thing on your mind.
But if you can follow that, then good….else use a combination of short runs and walking.
How long to break in running shoes before a marathon?
You need at least 1 month to break in running shoes before a marathon. If you can give 6-8 weeks for this breaking-in process, then it will allow you to have some wiggle room, in case you made a mistake with shoe selection.
You cannot run a marathon in a new shoe. If you are planning to run in a new shoe, then you should give yourself at least 1 month. Also, try to go for the same running shoe that you are replacing. This will reduce the margin of error.
If you want to try out some new model in your marathon, then, you need at least 6-8 weeks to break it in.
When you go for a new running shoe, you have to first get used to the shoe. Also, after using it for a couple of weeks, if you are not comfortable, then you may have to change it.
At that time, you would need sufficient time to break in this new shoe. That is the reason, you would need at least 6-8 weeks.
Why should you break in running shoes properly?
If you don’t break in your running shoes properly, you will end up dealing with different types of injuries, starting from blisters to hips, knees, and back problems.
If you try to run in a new running shoe, the first injury that you may sustain is blisters. This can be nasty and depending on severity, you will have to wait till it heals. Other than that, it will leave ugly scars behind.
The next in line is your Achilles Tendons and Calf muscles. They will have to deal with more impact and stiffness than they are accustomed to. This may develop into calf strain, Achilles tendonitis, or plantar fasciitis.
Also, not to mention the additional impact that your hips and knees have to endure.
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Blogger and a fitness enthusiast. She loves running and Yoga and everything in between. She started running to manage her weight and to eat to her heart’s content. A true foodie at heart she shares whatever knowledge she has gained throughout the years about weight management and fitness.