Running Shoes– Should You Rotate Different Pairs??

Hello! I got a great question from a reader on my last call for questions, but wasn’t able to answer it because How to Get Faster Running took too much time.

So, let’s talk about it now…

do you rotate running shoes

Running question for your Monican: “Do you wear more than one pair of running shoes? Do you rotate them?”

Yes. Right now I have two pairs of running shoes that I rotate – the Mizuno Wave Hitogami is my longer run shoe and the Wave Ekiden is my shorter distance running shoe (relatively speaking). I consider the Hitogami my ‘go-to’ shoe and the secondary shoe changes sometimes based on my preference.

rotating running shoes for different runs should you rotate running shoes

Why rotate running shoes? Different running shoes are designed for different purposes. One shoe might be made for stability and offer more cushion for longer mileage. Another might be lighter and made for shorter, faster distances. While you can wear either shoe for any workout, it is nice to wear the best shoe for a specific distance/workout.

I can’t run super long distances in my lightest shoe because there is no cushion and it starts to hurt my knees earlier in my runs. So even though it’s tempting to run all the time in the lightest shoe, it’s not a good idea.

Identify the category the shoe is in – stability, neutral, light-weight, race flat and that can help you assess what type of runs/workouts you can wear it.

Also, I’ve read that changing up your shoe can help prevent injuries. This is because changing it up varies the strain on specific muscles/tissues of your foot.

Do you have to rotate running shoes? No. Not at all. I only started changing up my shoes two years ago and that was because running shoe companies send me shoes. I don’t know if I’d be able to pay for multiple pairs and types of running shoes like that! It’s definitely expensive.

And it really depends on what your running. If you are a casual runner I think having one go-to pair of running shoes is good. If you are doing a lot of speed work AND distance or trail running you may want to consider getting a shoe specifically for those runs.

The most important thing is making sure your ‘core running shoe’ – the one that you use most is a good shoe for your needs. Then, you can find complementary ones if needed.

Here is a post about How to Find the Right Running Shoe

should you rotate running shoes

And you don’t have to switch up the type of running shoe. You can stay within a specific category of shoe for example wear a stability shoe but wear pairs from two different brands. Just remember the point is this is supposed to HELP your running, if it causes injuries or stress – Don’t Do It.

Note: I don’t wear either of these shoes for walking. Running shoes last a certain number of miles and I don’t want to ‘waste’ walking miles on these shoes. I wear any shoe for walking and have used practically every brand at some point. Well, except one brand that I think are too narrow but that may be a memory from a bad experience in high school when I got my shoes too small because I didn’t want anyone to know I had massive feet.

happiness is running shoes

Question: Do you change up your workout shoes?


  1. says

    I suffered a bad foot injury and my Podiatrist told me serious runners absolutely need to have multiple pairs of running shoes and rotate wearing them throughout the week. They should be different brands too. He said the structure of our feet (particularly the arches) change every year. If you’re like me logging 30-50 miles every week, then shoe rotation is more extremely important.

  2. Sherilyn says

    I have two pairs of the same shoe: Mizuno Wave Alchemy 12. It’s a stability shoe and it’s been working for me for awhile. I am training for a half marathon in October so I wanted to have two pairs so I could rotate them and get the second pair well broken-in before the race! I’ve never tried any other shoes but will have to eventually because they discontinued this model this year.

  3. says

    I recently had a horrible issue with a particular brand of shoes I have LOVED in the past. Definiately not a good fit for me. My entire lower half was in horrid/hobbling pain. I have retreated to my old kicks..and I need to replace them. I am scared after spending way over $100 for the pair that didn’t work. Please send a money tree!

  4. says

    I have two pairs: one pair for utility runs, long runs, and marathons, and one for speed work and races of 13.1 miles or fewer. I love training in my heavier utility pair and then switching to the lighter ones for races–I feel like my feet are flying.

  5. says

    Hmm…I run in huaraches but have 2 pairs (same brand and model) just in case one gets wet. I use one for trainings and the other for races/events unless the first pair is wet. I guess since it’s huaraches ie zero stability, cushioning etc, it doesn’t matter? I also run barefoot about 1-2 times a week.

  6. The Silent Assassin says

    Working the graveyard shift, so I’m glad for this post. My other nickname is The Shoe Whore. I also subscribe to the idea of using different shoes for different race distances. I agree with you on using your light (racing) kicks for shorter distances. Another good reason for rotation is to help manage the mileage of the shoe. Cushioning wears faster the more mileage you put on it. So rotate them to extend their life. ..cuz yeah they’re expensive. I keep the box they came in and log the miles on the inside cover after the run.

  7. says

    I have three pairs in rotation. All neutral with cushioning. But different brand/styles. I have a shoe pocket in a different color on each (with my id and emergency contact info:) and log my miles in a list app on my phone. When I go above 300 the shoes usually get taken out of rotation. Although I have tendonitis so I can’t say the shoe rotation helped me avoid injury.

  8. says

    I am rotating three shoes:
    Asics Gel Excite 2 are my distance shoe
    New Balance 590v2 are my speedwork shoe
    Zoot Ultra TT are my short-run shoe

    I do each of those runs once per week, so each shoe gets worn once per week. I don’t use them for walking (separate shoes for that), and I keep track of mileage. Not that I’ll get rid of them once they hit a certain mileage, but I do like to know how many miles they have on them.

    To the poster who said her doctor said your feet are changing: I’d never heard that before, and that is very interesting. It would explain why I typically can’t wear the same shoe (and by that I mean brand/type, not specific shoe, that mileage would be ridic) for more than a year. I’m constantly changing the brand and type of shoe I get. Now I know why!

  9. says

    I use my old/worn out sneakers for walking and weight lifting and my “new” (almost a year old) sneakers for running!

  10. says

    I have lots of shin issues so I need more support when I run so I save my Brooks for runs and use my lighter Mizuno wave riders for all other workouts, including walking. Like you, I don’t want to waste miles on my running shoes!

  11. says

    Yes I like to rotate my shoe! I have a few different pairs that I wear for different types of runs. My favorite go-to shoe is the Brooks pureflow and then I have a couple other shoes for speed-work and long runs.

  12. says

    I’ve noticed that when I alternate shoes, my feet cramp up after I take them off. I wonder if it has something to do with the shape/mold of the shoe and changing up that feeling on my feet.

  13. says

    haha nice ecard

    i never rotated shoes before until now. i got a light pair of brooks cadence for shorter/speedwork but they are heavy enough that i could do a little longer runs in- would never run a half or full in them though

    for stability i wear nike structure but just switched (for shits and giggles haha) to mizuno wave inspires

  14. says

    I only use one pair of shoes myself. I have pretty tough feet and have never suffered any sort of foot or ankle injury (knock on wood). My wife on the other hand requires several pairs of shoes and needs to rotate them in order to keep her feet working the way they should!

  15. says

    I am rotating between Hoka Bondi Bs (my main shoe – all brick work, speed work, racing, long runs, etc) and Saucony Glides (short runs 1-2 times per week). I have a pair of Asics I want to work in the mix, but they aggravated a heel issue I was having so I took them out of play.

    I used to just use one and run it into the ground, but I switched this year because I loved my Hokas, but found I couldn’t wear them for every run or my feet would get sore.

  16. says

    I have two pairs of the same shoes (Brooks PureCadence 2) that I am currently rotating – I read somewhere that the cushioning lasts longer in running shoes if you don’t wear them everyday. Last time I needed new shoes I tried on a whole bunch but nothing felt as right as the Cadence but maybe I need to go back to the running store or win the lottery.

  17. says

    I don’t change up my running shoes because I only have one go-to pair at the moment (the older ones have become my walking shoes). I have been thinking about how I do need to start rotating my shoes, though! Good reminder to do that! Thanks!

  18. says

    Great post! I just use my core shoe for running, but buy two so I can switch them up.

    I don’t have trouble finding a good running shoe, but rather a walking shoe. Because I live in NYC, any ol’ shoe won’t work cuz it’s so damaging on my feet and legs and I need those for running :) I like walking in stylish Nike shoes, or the Nike Sky-Hi wedges. Need a lot of comfort and support walking in the concrete jungle.

  19. says

    I have many pairs of shoes but really just wear them based on what I feel like. If i am doing speed I will go with a lighter pair but if I am just going for an easy run I end up just putting on my mid-weight trainers. I kinda just go off what I feel or what is closest to me when I am getting dressed 😉

  20. Elizabeth says

    Monica, I have a crush on your blog! Seriously, I’m obsessed. Trouble is I spend too much time perusing and not enough time running! I work at a gym and take classes yoga, tabata, boxing, etc everyday but I need to:

    A. Stop wearing my running shoes when I am working: save them just for running!
    B. Sign up for a race to get me motivated again;I ran Boston this year as a novice runner. I would really like to get down to an 8 min mile but I’m currently around 9:40.
    C. Work on my nutrition to combat the Lexapro pudge my oh so small daily dose of an antidepressant that leaves it’s stubborn mark on my midriff.

    Thanks for being so awesome and inspiring!

  21. says

    I try to rotate when I can, but I usually base it off of mileage. My Brooks Pure Cadence are used for short runs, but I use them to walk around town a lot too. They’re getting high on mileage, so it’s almost time to switch them to exclusive walking shoes or gardening shoes (ha)

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