Ask Coach Julia: How many pairs of running shoes do I need?

Ask Coach Julia

Today’s question comes from Donalda in Germany…

“How many pairs of running shoes should you have if running regularly? I hear folk saying you must have two and alternate? I’ve heard of others saying that because running shoes are changing all the time, if they find a pair that are good they buy several pairs of them before they change for the next season?”

I’d break this down by mileage and the race distance you’re training for…

Walking or 5K

If you’re in our Up & Moving or 5K Course or have a weekly running volume of about thirteen miles per week, one pair of shoes should be enough. The biggest mistake I see is people digging out ancient shoes from the back of their closets. They might actually be running shoes that haven’t had much use, but plastics such as polyurethane foam or EVA break down with heat and humidity even while sitting in a closet. Be careful where you store your shoes!


The 10K runner may be able to squeak by with one pair of shoes, but a second pair may be a good thing to have as a standby. The runners in our 10K course work out three days a week and their weekly volume is about sixteen miles (26km). Adding in a second pair gives that midsole time to recover after being pounded down and the shoe has a chance to air out and dry from those hardworking sweaty feet.

Half Marathon and Marathon

Definitely have two pairs of running shoes in your wardrobe. One pair can be used for regular training and one lighter pair for drills and intervals. If you’re training for a marathon consider having two basic pairs plus the lighter pair. The base pairs can be alternated so they each have time to dry out and the foam can recover and expand again.

As for buying several pairs of shoes at a time, it’s true that shoe manufacturers change their models constantly. You get used to one fit then poof,  they’ve modified the fit or no longer make them. I don’t see any problem with buying several pairs at once. Just make sure that you store them properly and use them within a few years.

Stay tuned for the next Ask Coach Julia post when she’ll be answering: How do I know when I need to replace my running shoes? If you have a burning running question, get in touch and we’ll help!