Should I Wear New Running Shoes for My Marathon?

The Best Mileage for Your Race Day Shoes

Female runner tying shoe lace in a urban area
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Question: Should I Wear New Running Shoes for My Marathon?

Answer: Your race day shoes need have a few dozen miles on them rather than being brand new. You will need to plan ahead to have a pair that has been worn through a couple of your long training runs but is still relatively fresh for the marathon. You need to wear your race day shoes through one or more long training runs so you know if that particular pair has any quirks that will give you hot spots or blisters.

Since you've been training for a marathon, you're probably already aware that you shouldn't run in old, worn-out running shoes. During training, you should be replacing your running shoes every 300 to 400 miles. As you wear them, they lose their cushioning ability, and they can be worn out internally long before you see changes in the condition of the soles or uppers.

Wear Shoes with 40 to 50 Miles on Them for the Marathon

When it comes to your actual race, it's not a good idea to run in old running shoes or brand new ones. You should wear shoes that have about 40 to 50 miles on them, so they still have most of their cushioning left. However, they need some miles because at least one small study showed that brand new shoes are not as flexible, they need a little break-in.

So, you can buy a new pair of running shoes about three weeks before your race and do several short runs and one longer run in them.

In case this pair has a specific problem and needs to be returned, you want to give yourself enough lead time to exchange them and try out the final pair in the same way.

If you've been happy with the running shoes you've worn during training, get another pair of the same ones for your marathon. There's no reason to change anything or try something new when you're so close to your race day.

Wearing your marathon running shoes the day before your marathon means that they won't have time to decompress before your race. Try to wear a different pair of running shoes or very comfortable shoes when walking around the day before your marathon.

What Shoes to Pack for Your Marathon

If you're traveling to your marathon, this means bringing along more than one pair of shoes. If you want to pack lightly for air travel, wear your non-race shoes and bring your race shoes along in your carry-on bag. It's risky to pack your race shoes in checked luggage. In fact, some marathoners pack all of their race day outfit in their carry on rather than risk it going astray.

If something happens to your race shoes, such as lost luggage, you'll be the most secure if you wore your second-best pair and you can race in them. If the worst-case scenario happens and you have to buy new shoes at your destination, you'll be happiest if you can find the same model and you are able to do some short runs in them before the marathon.

Also see: Tips for Marathon Tapering

FAQs About Running Shoes

Sources:

Taunton JE, Ryan MB, Clement DB, McKenzie DC, Lloyd-Smith DR, Zumbo BD. "A prospective study of running injuries: the Vancouver Sun Run "In Training" clinics." Br J Sports Med. 2003 Jun;37(3):239-44.

Rethnam U, Makwana N. "Are old running shoes detrimental to your feet? A pedobarographic study." BMC Res Notes. 2011 Aug 24;4:307. doi: 10.1186/1756-0500-4-307.

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