If you follow this blog you know I learned a very hard and valuable lesson this past spring. I switched shoes within my own shoe brand and ended up with a terrible case of Achilles tendonitis. It was painful and embarrassing. As a running coach I constantly preach to runners about sticking with the same shoes and being smart about making changes. But apparently I thought I was invincible.
Different models of shoes have very different specifications. You might not be able to see them but they make a huge difference. For example, I have always run in a “stability” shoe from Asics. Last spring I switched to a “neutral” shoe. I didn’t think it would matter because I didn’t buy the initial shoes for the stabilizing. But seeing as how I often run 200+ miles a month, my feet and body had become accustomed to those specifications. When I went to see my massage therapist due to my Achilles pain he noted that it seemed my injury was coming from some rolling in my ankle. Bingo! Later I realized what I had done.
Even your favorite shoe model can change from year to year. When shoe companies release the newest version of their models they often make small modifications. These small changes can make a big impact on your feet and legs.
So how do you transition to new shoes?
First learn the art of alternating. About 3-4 weeks before it is time to make the switch go out and buy a new pair of your current model. Mark the old shoe as “A” and the new one as “B.” Begin alternating between runs but make sure to use your old shoes for your longer runs. If you are training for a race I find it best to use this method throughout training so that you can keep your body healthy and don’t have to stress about breaking in new shoes right before race day.
If you chose to switch to a new model or even brand take it slow.
Continue to wear your old shoes for the majority of your runs for about four weeks and occasionally wear the new shoes for your shortest runs.. I personally would recommend only running a mile at a time in a new brand or model for the first two weeks. Then slowly increase your mileage. Go ahead and wear the new shoes for some walks to help break them in without stressing your feet and legs too much.
If you begin to feel any pain go back!
If you start to feel any pain or niggles switch back to your old shoes. Wait until you are pain free again before trying to transition once more. If you do choose to continue take it even slower during the transition process. Don’t be afraid to do just a half mile at a time in the new shoes.
If you wear inserts or orthotics keep using those in the new shoes.
Enough said. Don’t change those and bring them along for the ride. I love my Super Feet so I just switch them between pairs as I go.
If all else fails use them for something else.
Once I realized what I had done I put the new shoes away for awhile. I was upset with myself and bummed that I couldn’t use my pretty new shoes. But later I just started using them as my walking shoes and for my strength workouts. They don’t mess with me on walks and because I walk so much everyday it really keeps my good running shoes from breaking down too quickly. Plus are fun to wear when I am doing my leg workouts!
Just stay patient. Listen to your body and know when it is time to back off. By learning to transition safely from shoe to shoe or even brand to brand you can keep your body healthy and running smoothly. Please note though that it is easiest to make a transition between similar brands or models. It would take a lot of time and patience to move from something like a Vibram to a Hoka One One (I have witnessed this and it was not good). Happy running!