How Long Does It Take To Break in Running Shoes?

running shoe shopping

"I recently got new running shoes. My feet were a little sore after the first couple of runs in them, and I got a few blisters. How long should it take to break in my running shoes? Are there rules of thumb that other runners know? When should I give up on a pair of shoes being a good fit and return them?"

Break In Time for Running Shoes

If you got properly fitted for running shoes and you're wearing the right shoes for your feet, they really shouldn't require a break-in period.

They should feel comfortable starting with your first run.

If you get a different model of running shoe than you've worn in the past, try them out by doing a couple of shorter runs in them. If you're developing blisters or feel pain, take them back to the store. Most good running stores will give a refund or store credit for running shoes that have only been worn a couple of times.

Problems with New Running Shoes

1. Shoes that are Too Small or Too Narrow: If you're getting blisters or the shoe feels uncomfortable, they may be too small. Your feet swell when you run, so you should make sure that you're wearing running shoes that are at least a half size to full size bigger than your regular shoe size. It may feel weird at first buying shoes that are bigger than your dress shoe size, but your feet are not the same size by the end of your run as they were when you started. You may also want to look for wider shoes.

Some brands now offer narrow, regular and wide widths. If you are experiencing rubbing or blisters, you may want to see if a wider shoe will work better for running.

2. Shoes of the Wrong Type: Visit a running specialty store and have a salesperson look at your feet and do a gait analysis, so you get the right running shoes for you.

If you need a motion control shoe because you overpronate, you may have problems if you picked up a neutral shoe instead. Be sure you are buying the right type of running shoe for your gait. If you don't overpronate, you may find a stiffer shoe to be less comfortable. If you bought a minimalist shoe but your foot needs more support, you won't be comfortable in the unstructured shoe.

3. Return Policies: Know the return policy of the store or online vendor where you bought the shoes. A local specialty running store probably has a generous return policy, and you can bring back your shoes after a few runs. But online stores and other stores may require returning only unworn shoes, in which case you are out of luck. It's smarter to buy a new model of shoe from a store with a generous return policy. Don't delay in deciding that the shoes aren't going to work for you.

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