30th March 2017.For runners, nothing is as fundamental to success and comfort as the right running shoe. Regular shoes just don't provide the type of robust support necessary for the foot during running. Prolonged use of shoes that don't cushion the foot from the repeated and rapid impacts of running can eventually lead to the development of injuries. Naturally, you want to stay as comfortable as possible while out on your daily run; preventing an injury is just one part of the equation. When you feel relaxed, and foot discomfort isn?t a distraction, you can power through more miles. How many pairs of running shoes should you have, though? When you initially find a pair that fits perfectly and delivers an excellent running experience, the natural inclination is to stick with that pair till they fall apart. Is that the best method, though? You may have heard some runners advocate using multiple pairs and rotating through them. In this article, we'll put running shoes under the microscope and look at the reasoning behind rotation and whether it's right for you. While adding more shoes to your closet could be a costly expense, it may also lay the groundwork for more success on the race course. First, though, let's think about the valid reasons for sticking with just a single pair.

The "pros" of sticking with one pair of shoes

The primary reason not to cycle through several pairs of shoes for many people is a very simple one: the budget. A high-quality pair of running shoes isn't cheap; instead, it can potentially be a relatively large investment in your fitness. For many, the idea of making a second large and discretionary purchase just doesn't square with their budgeting practices. Using one pair until they've worn out and it's time to replace them won't be a problem so long as you keep track of their condition and age. For others, time is a limiting factor. Being picky about your footwear isn't a bad thing; after all, ill-fitting shoes can cause discomfort during a run and perhaps even lead to an injury. If it seems to take you a long time to find shoes that make you comfortable, then don't worry about enduring the hassle a second time so soon. Consistency is a final reason to stick with your current shoes. If you've been running in them for a while and they are in the middle of their usable life, new shoes can be a big disruption. The sudden change could again put you at risk for an accidental injury. In these cases, it may be best to wait until it's time for a replacement pair to consider rotation.

Sometimes reliance on one pair creates problems

That risk for a sports injury remains even when you're just using your favourite pair of shoes ? so while they're friendly to your budget and comfy to wear, they'll still reach a point where they no longer offer the support you need. As mentioned, this is no problem if you carefully track the quality of your shoes. When was the last time you sat down and examined the tread on your sole or the cushioning inside, though? If your answer is "never," then you're likely not alone, and this fact alone points to a fundamental problem: many of us are running on shoes that are simply too old. They don't last forever. Even if you've spent months away from running and haven't put any new miles on them, time takes its toll on the materials, too. Using just one pair can mean a regular replacement cycle or facing the consequences of using shoes that are no longer adequate. You could see your pace slip and your times increase all while your body, including your legs and back, protest with pain. Don?t ignore this obvious sign that it's time to get new shoes. If you find yourself frustrated with how often that sign appears, consider why two (or three, or more) pairs are better than one.

The case for rotating through running shoes

We've already mentioned running injuries related to poor shoes several times, so what is the data on switching them out? The numbers are actually staggering: in a long-term study, runners who regularly switched their shoe selection experienced an overall risk that was 39% lower than those who used only one pair. Right off the bat, it's evident that rotation can help reduce running injuries and in a significant manner. If they fit in your budget, this reason should be enough on its own to motivate a second purchase. A second pair is helpful for recovery, too. After a long and strenuous training day, no one enjoys running on sore legs. By changing over to a newer pair with more of its cushioning left, you can lessen the impact when you run the next day. While it might not feel like running on clouds, it will be a substantial improvement over the shoes you wore previously. This method also allows your shoes valuable time to return to their original shape. Of course, it's important also to mention that you'll simply need to replace your shoes less often with this method. That convenience alone might be compelling to run more than one pair of shoes.

How do pro runners tackle this issue?

Ask a pro runner if they have more than one pair of shoes, and the answer will be "absolutely." It's for more reasons than just comfort, though. Anyone who runs a lot knows that every surface is different and each day provides new challenges. Being able to adapt your footwear to the conditions and course of the day is very useful. For example, you might have one pair that is excellent for running in wet weather, or another pair that's ideal for uphill and downhill trials. As you collect more shoes, you can switch them out for improved comfort while tackling the day's challenges. Others believe that changing up your footwear forces your body to adapt to the change through small improvements. Whether that's improving the muscles in your feet or working out your calves, it's a definite positive benefit. Overall, many pro runners depend on a large stable of shoes to get them through their training and competitive efforts. If it works for the pros, it can work for the casual and intermediate runners, too.

What should you look for in running shoes, anyway?

All things considered, rotating your running shoes is usually the best option if it's something that fits into your finances. What makes a good running shoe, though? While that's a complex topic in its own right, there are a few major pointers you can keep in mind. If you plan to add a second or third pair of shoes to your closet rack, you'll want to be certain you're gaining advantages. The fit is the most important part ? your local athletics store will usually have someone available to assist you in obtaining shoes that fit properly. You won't see the benefits of rotating shoes if you change into a pair that hurts your feet. Choose a material that suits your needs as well. For example, nylon mesh breathes easily while remaining lightweight, though it should come with waterproof protection if you plan to run in rain frequently. Also, look for a second pair that suits the terrain you'll run on ? be it an unpaved trail or a smooth track surface. Trail shoes are very different from road shoes, and it's important to tailor your footwear to the route you take. With these basic pointers, you can start thinking about the best way to grow your shoe collection to see real gains in your running performance.

Choose the option that suits your style and budget

In the end, whether you fill your cupboard with shoes or have just one faithful pair is up to you. There are distinct advantages to rotating your shoes, as we've seen. At the same time, this is not always possible or financially feasible; in that case, it is best to focus on finding the best pair of shoes as possible. A practised running form, too, can help you make the most of your shoes through a reduction in the impact on your joints. No matter your choice, there is good news: a well-fitting running shoe will always make your exercise experience more enjoyable. Take the time to learn what to look for and the right things to consider. The improvement you'll experience is well worth the effort, no matter how many pairs you choose to own!