I don’t work for any shoe company (nor have I ever), and I don’t have a shoe sponsor (nor have I ever). So I have the freedom to share with you some free advice on running shoes and how I, as a coach and former serious runner, recommend using them in training.
Beginners: I recommend having at least 2 pairs of comfy cushioned running shoes that have been recommended to you for your foot plant, body type and the type of running you do (road, trail, speed/distance) by a professional at a running specialty store. Alternate between these shoes on a regular basis, and track the amount of mileage you log on each pair. Once a pair has reached between 300-350 miles replace them with a new pair.
Note: Some shoes models can handle more miles than 350 miles and some less than 300, depending on a lot of variables. I have found 300-350 miles is a good target for most people and shoes but be aware of indications you need to retire a pair earlier than this.
Intermediate: When you reach an intermediate level of running you can benefit from expanding your “stable” of running shoes to include a lighter weight performance trainer in which to do speed work, tempo runs and races in. You would continue to use your comfy cushioned trainers for your easy runs and long runs, and then use your light weight performance trainers for speed/tempos and racing.
It has been my experience that these lighter weight performance trainers are usually good for 250-300 miles before replacement is needed, so be sure to track the mileage on these as well. The reason why they last slightly less mileage is that we use these in workouts/races that place a slightly higher demand on the shoes because of the increased speed and torque we are using them at.
Advanced/Elite: For the advanced or elite runner I recommend having a full stable of running shoes that include 3 categories:
1) Easy & Long Runs: I recommend having 2-3 pairs of nice comfy cushioned trainers that you log your easy runs and long runs in. Track the mileage on these shoes and trade them out when a pair reached 300-350 miles.
2) Light Weight Performance Trainers: I recommend having at least 1 pair of lighter weight performance training shoes in which you can do tempo runs and steady state type workouts in. It has been my experience that these shoes need to be traded out slightly more often, I usually target about 250-300 miles on a pair before trading them out.
3) Racing Flats: For those runners who use racing flats, I recommend having 1 or 2 pairs of racing flats. Personally I liked having 2 pairs, one that was ultra-light and minimalistic for shorter races (mile to 10k) and short speed work (fast intervals and sometimes VO2 max work) – only recommended for very efficient runners. And a second pair that was a little substantial and slightly more cushioned for half marathon and marathon races and longer speed workouts (VO2 Max, Groove repeats or LT repeats). It has been my experience that these shoes tend to last between 100 & 200 miles before replacement is needed.
While having a larger stable of running shoes can carry a higher initial cost, the maintenance cost is no larger than having just one pair, as you are changing out shoes at the same frequency (once every 200-350 miles of running).
Brands/Models: Most major running shoe companies have shoes in all 3 categories listed above – cushioned trainers, lighter weight performance trainers and racing flats. I recommend finding the styles and brands of shoes that work best for you and your feet, and sticking with it, unless a model is changed significantly. Your local running specialty stores usually will have some knowledgeable professionals to help you figure out what styles might work best for you. Also many of the running shoe companies’ websites are also very good at recommending shoe types for you based on some easily testable flexibility and body type characteristics.
Note: It is my experience, and that of many form and bio-mechanics specialists in the running world, that far more runners use highly stabilizing shoes than should be. One well respected bio-mechanist in the running world told me that 90% of runners should be in neutral training shoes, but that 40% were wearing stabilizing shoes. So be careful, and when in doubt go with neutral or at least moderately flexible shoes.
Take care of your feet by choosing the running shoes best for you and being sure to track the miles you are logging on each and switch them out regularly. Running shoes are the biggest expense in our sport that has a relatively low equipment cost, so spend the time needed to find what works best for you so can have a happy and healthy running career.