How to Break In Running Shoes

February 7, 2024

Nick Hancock
A woman tying pink shoes on grass.

Uncomfortable running shoes can turn a joyous jog into a potential pain. That's why breaking in your running shoes is key to unlocking the comfort and support your feet deserve during your run. Migrating from your old pair of running shoes to the brand new pair ones can be challenging!

So let's get into why comfortable shoes matter and how taking a little time to break them in can make all the difference in your running experience.

How Long Does It Take to Break In Running Shoes?

The time it takes to break in your running shoes can vary based on different factors, like the type of shoes and individual preferences. It typically takes between 15 to 30 days of regular wear for your shoes to fully adjust to your feet.

Contrary to the quick comfort hopes, breaking in running shoes takes a bit of time. Many think slipping into new shoes should feel perfect from the start, but choosing the right running shoes is only half the battle. Generally, it only takes 20 to 30 miles for modern running shoes to break in and feel precisely the way you want them to.

Pay attention to signs like increased flexibility, reduced discomfort, and a feeling of natural movement. Once your shoes start to feel like a comfortable extension of your feet, it's a good indicator that they are adequately broken in. Remember, each person and shoe type may have its own timeline, so listen to your feet and let them be the guide to the perfect break-in period for you.

A couple joyfully running on a road at sunset

Why You Need to Break in Running Shoes

Skipping the break-in process might seem tempting, but it's like skipping the warm-up before a workout – it can lead to aches and pains! Your new walking shoes need time to get to know your feet.

If you rush into long runs without letting them adjust, you risk encountering issues like:

  • Blisters: Selecting the wrong shoes that doesn't match your foot shape or running style can cause blisters. It's crucial to choose the right type of shoe to prevent this discomfort.
  • Chafing: When you wear running shoes of the wrong size, it can lead to chafing, causing irritation and blisters. Ensure your shoes fit properly to avoid this common running woe.
  • Uncomfortable Hotspots: Even if the size is right, walking shoes of the same size may have varying designs. Different models can create uncomfortable hotspots due to friction. Consider style and design variations when choosing your footwear.
  • Foot Fatigue: Sticking to the same style of walking shoes might not be suitable for different running conditions. For instance, using a heavy non-trail running shoes for trail running may lead to foot fatigue. Choose the appropriate style based on your running terrain.
  • Soreness and Discomfort: Opting for an unstructured shoe when you need support can lead to soreness and discomfort. Ensure your shoe provides the necessary structure for your walking needs.
  • Reduced Performance: Using motion control shoes when unnecessary can hinder your walking performance. These shoes are designed for specific foot mechanics; wearing them without the need may impact your natural walking gait.
  • Increased Risk of Injuries: Ironically, even good walking shoes can lead to injuries if not broken in. Gradually adapting your shoes to your feet reduces the risk of injuries associated with abrupt changes in footwear.

Beyond the initial discomfort, avoiding the break-in period can impact your overall walking performance and foot health. So, take a moment to let your new walking shoes get cozy with your feet, and you'll be paving the way for enjoyable, pain-free walks ahead.

A person jogging on a smooth road.

How to Break In New Running Shoes

Breaking in your new running shoes is a crucial step for ultimate comfort. Here are some tips to guide you through the process:

1. Gradual Wear

Begin with shorter durations of wear for everyday activities. This gradual approach allows the shoes to mold to your feet without causing discomfort. If it's a new shoe model, you need to be extra careful and take your time.

2. Targeted Exercises:

Incorporate simple foot and ankle exercises to enhance flexibility. Rotations, toe stretches, and flexing your feet can help the shoes adapt to your unique movements.

3. Appropriate Surfaces:

Choose softer surfaces like grass or well-maintained trails for the initial wears. This reduces the impact on your shoes and provides a smoother transition during the break-in period.

4. Socks Matter:

Wear thicker socks as it provides additional cushioning for your feet. Experiment with different sock thicknesses. Thicker running socks can slightly alter the fit, helping your shoes adjust more efficiently.

5. Warm-Up Walks:

Before hitting the run, start with a few brisk walks. This warms up the shoes and prepares them for the intensity of running.

6. Flex Your Feet:

While sitting, flex your feet up and down to help the shoes stretch and adapt to the movement of your ankles.

7. Use a Shoe Horn:

Utilize a shoe horn to gently slide your feet into the shoes. This minimizes stress on the heel collar and ensures a smoother fit.

8. Alternate Shoes:

Don't just throw your old shoes in the bin after buying new running shoes right away. If possible, rotate between your new and previous pair of shoes. This gives your feet a break while allowing the new shoes to adapt gradually.

By incorporating these tips into your routine, you'll not only effectively break in your running shoes but also enhance their performance and longevity.

A person walking on a road wearing shoes.


In the pursuit of a satisfying and injury-free running experience, take the time to find the perfect fit for your running shoes—don't rush the process. From gradual wear to targeted exercises, each step contributes to a more comfortable stride. As your shoes adapt to your unique movements, listen to the signs of increased flexibility and reduced discomfort.

Choosing the right pair of shoes is the first thing to do for a comfy and effective run. If the new running shoes feels uncomfortable, don't forget to replace them otherwise you will be putting yourself at risk of getting injuries. Neglecting doing this puts you at the risk of injuries that could derail your running journey.

Prioritize your well-being and make the necessary adjustments to ensure a safe and enjoyable run every time. Remember, understanding how to break in running shoes and consistently wearing them during your runs is fundamental.

To elevate your running journey further, consider the invaluable guidance of an online running coach at Maximum Mileage Coaching. Investing in a coach ensures not just well-fitted shoes but a holistic approach to your overall running performance.

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