At least a few times a year, I have a conversation with runners about whether running shoes last longer if you own more than one pair and rotate through the shoes rather than wearing the same pair over and over again. The story goes that two pair of shoes rotated last as long as three, or something like that. (For my own shoes’ sake, I try not to run every day.)
There are even some who believe that running shoes take exactly 26 hours to recover from a run, so if you don’t run two hours later day after day, you’ll basically need two or more pair of shoes in order to let your shoes do whatever it is that they do over those 26 hours. Some think it takes even longer for synthetic footwear to recover, including “Gear Guy” from Outside Magazine:
Thing is, Michael, you don’t need one pair of shoes, you need two. Shoes need at least 48 hours off between runs in order to dry out. Shoes that have a twin also last longer, of course.Â
There is also a 24-hour theory based on the time it takes foot fungi to die off between workouts, courtesy of The Running Times:
Long runs with less than 24 hours of recovery are hard on runners and hard on shoes. While Dan is fortunate to have a body that can pull it off, shoes are just shoes. They need to dry thoroughly between workouts, otherwise the billions of bacteria thriving in the perpetual humidity of the shoeâ€™s interior will help the shoe fall apart faster and maybe even threaten Danâ€™s streak with a gnarly case of athleteâ€™s foot.
Alternating between two pairs gives the shoes plenty of time to dry between workouts, which is good for the shoes and even better for keeping Danâ€™s feet fungus-free. The shoes last longer and Dan stays healthier.
Probably the most authoritative sounding quote I could find on this issue comes from a personal blog referencing the The Competitive Runner’s Handbook, which states:
In his book, â€œThe Competitive Runnerâ€™s Handbookâ€?, Bob Glover says, â€œStudies show that by alternating two pairs of shoes theyâ€™ll last longer than three pairs used consecutively.â€?Â He also says, â€œRotated shoes retain 80% of their cushioning after sixty runs of an average of 5 miles (300 total miles) compared to only 60% for those not rotated.â€?
I couldn’t find any links to said “studies” but it sure sounds authoritative.
While researching this post, I actually came across what sounds like a logical reason for rotating shoes, but it had nothing to do with shoe maintenance. Instead, it focused on injury prevention and suggested that your body is better off transitioning in and out of new shoes rather than going cold turkey from one pair to the next:
Rotating Running Shoes
What’s your biggest fear as a runner? Injury, of course! It’s important to do all we can to prevent injuries. Shoe rotation is at the top of my list. Ever notice how your body “signals” you to buy a new pair of shoes? Running in worn-out shoes results in aches and pains in your legs, knees and hips. You can prevent this unnecessary pain by rotating between two pair of running shoes. How’s it work?
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. Continue this cycle and you’ll be doing everything you can to prevent worn out shoes from placing you on the “disabled list.” Effectively rotating your shoes takes the guess work out of replacing your shoes and saves you money because your shoes will last longer. It will also save your body from the “wrath of the worn out running shoe.”
Can anyone find an actual study explaining whether shoes “need” recovery time?