Choosing the best shoe & running shoe rotation for your workout.
In my previous Run With It blog, “Choosing the right running shoe,” I explained the difference between neutral and stability shoes and touched on the topic of subcategories in the running shoe world.
Think of all the pants you own. You probably have jeans, sweatpants, dress pants, casual pants. It is a safe bet that you don’t wear the same pants every day (variety is the spice of life), right?
You choose your wardrobe based on the occasion. So, it’s not much of a stretch of the imagination to consider that we could, and should, do the same thing when it comes to our running shoes.
In any given week, your training schedule probably involves different workouts.
Saturday or Sunday, you do your long run
Monday, Wed, Friday, you’re in recovery/easy run mode
Tuesday, you add in some hills and short speed bursts (fartlek)
Thursday, you tackle a longer speed (tempo) workout.
Next Sunday, you race a half marathon.
Now, for fun, let’s pretend we have the luxury (and the budget) to wear a different shoe for each of these other workouts. We could choose a racing flat, a lightweight trainer, a full-bodied trainer, a plush cushioned shoe, or even a carbon plate performance shoe.
Ultimately it’s going to come down to personal preference - the cushioning that works for one runner may not be the preference for another - but consider that the shoes in each of these categories offer different amounts of “responsiveness."
Think of it as an energy return that comes from the midsole foam. Very generally speaking, the more cushioning you have in a shoe, the less responsive it will be. Unless, like the new carbon shoes, it is designed with responsiveness in mind.
What we can glean from this is that different workouts call for different shoes!
A shoe designed for distance typically has good cushioning while still maintaining energy return, and that’s what I’m looking for on the day I do my long run.
I will be out there for a while, and I want my shoe to work with me for the duration. I’ll put on one of my full-bodied shoes, the equivalent of my comfy jeans, for this run. The perfect balance of form and function, cushioning and responsiveness.
The right shoe could be the New Balance 880/860, Saucony Ride/Guide, ASICS Cumulus/2000, HOKA Clifton, On Cloud Swift, or the Brooks Ghost/Adrenaline.
Monday, Wed, Friday, I am in recovery/easy run mode. My legs are a bit tired, I’m not planning on working too hard, and I want some softness underneath my feet. There isn’t a significant energy requirement on these runs, so I reach my plush cushioned shoes: The New Balance 1080, HOKA Bondi, Brooks Glycerine, ASICS Kayano Lite/Nimbus, or the On Cloud Flyer.
Tuesdays, I’m feeling recovered from my weekend long run and am ready to throw some hills and fast strides (Fartlek’s) into my workout. Today is an excellent day to lace up one of my lightweight trainers. The HOKA Rincon, Saucony Kinvara, Brooks Launch, or ASICS RoadBlast are all excellent choices. I’m sacrificing some cushioning, but making a good trade for a more responsive shoe will help me out when I am bounding up those hills and keep me feeling light and fast during the speed sections of my workout.
A longer sustained effort (tempo) workout on Thursday calls for some decision-making. Tempo shoes should have excellent energy return while still providing enough cushion to keep your legs and feet feeling fresh.
If your tempo workout is part of a more prolonged effort, you might elect to stick with your lightweight trainers, but a tempo workout masquerades as race practice, so let’s put on our racing shoes! You can reach for a racing flat, such as the New Balance 1400 or 1500, Saucony Type A or Fastwitch, and ASICS Hyperspeed, or grab the hot off the press Carbon Plated performance shoes and fly like Kipchoge.
So yes, if you can, you should have more than one pair of running shoes. Your legs and feet will thank you for it! Your workouts will be better, and they might even be more enjoyable (if that is even possible).
And remember that the miles you put on one pair of shoes save the wear and tear on your other pairs, so you don’t have to replace your one pair of shoes so often. It balances itself out. Give yourself a running treat.
You should be training with different types of workouts
Rotating your shoes between your training sessions will be suitable for your performance and the life of the shoes
Different workouts require different shoes:
Distance runs = full-bodied running shoes
Easy runs = plush cushioned running shoes
Fartleks or hills = lightweight running shoes
Tempo runs/speed work = racing flats or carbon shoes (more on these later)
In the running shoe world, we have recently seen a change that is one of those “no looking back” advancements. From the mile to the marathon, running shoes with carbon fiber plates have revolutionized the sport.
As you may have guessed, picking a shoe based solely (sorry, shoe pun) on a review you found on the internet, or the recommendation of your best friend has limited value.
While a single Toronto running store can exert only so much control over offshore manufacturing processes, we believe we can and should encourage all runners to make smarter, more sustainable choices. As we hopefully move past the worst of Covid, let’s spare a thought for this planet of ours.