People love to say that running is the most accessible sport, as you only need a pair of shoes and a road to run on. And essentially, that is true. However, this discourse doesn’t include the people who are passionate runners, who are training and preparing for half-marathons, marathons, and even 10k races.
For those, running is not just a way to get some physical activity but rather a consuming hobby that requires a lot of clothes, shoes, and accessories.
Having said that, online, you will see many people showing off collections of shoes – every model of Brooks or Hoka, some Nikes, and the occasional Puma or Adidas – mountains of running sneakers that they’re very unlikely to be using and that are quite frankly collecting dust in their homes.
At the same time, having just one pair is quite unreliable – what if it gets wet or if it’s not the right one for the current conditions you’re training in?
This discourse leads many runners to ask the question – how many running shoes should I have luckily for all of you, we will be answering it in the below paragraphs.
How Many Running Shoes Should You Have?
For most runners, having between two and four pairs is more than enough and is likely to serve all the athletes’ possible needs.
At the very least, you will need one shoe that can count as a daily trainer – a comfortable and versatile pair that you can wear for longer runs and on race day and one speed-oriented shoe that you can use for shorter and interval workouts that are helping you get faster.
From that point on, if you’re running daily and loading loads of mileage, you might need to consider a second daily trainer or a dedicated shoe specifically for your recovery runs that you can use when you have to track long but slow miles.
Additionally, if you’re a dedicated runner who’s chasing results and wants to maximize performance on competition days, you might also consider what’s called race shoes – a more expensive trainer that’s to be used only when you want to perform at your best and that shouldn’t be overworn as the effect of it will fade away with frequent use.
Last but not least, come trail run shoes. These are made with more sturdy and durable materials that can last through mud, water, and snow, and they also have more protective upper and grippier outsoles that allow you to run comfortably off-road. Arch support is also important.
If you’re someone who often goes on runs in the mountains, this is a must-have pair, as forests and other offroad tracks can be slippery and dangerous if you’re not taking proper precautions.
Factors to Consider Before Deciding How Many Shoes You Need
There are several factors you should take into consideration before deciding to go for two or more pairs of running shoes.
1. Mileage and Frequency
The first one is mileage and frequency. Ask yourself how many days per week you run and what mileage you cover – the more you run, the better it is to have multiple shoes in your rotation, as that has been proven to reduce the risk of injury.
2. Terrain and Weather
Additionally, you should think about the terrain and the weather – if you’re doing some of your running off-road, then a pair of trail shoes is a must-have. The same applies if you’re training somewhere where it rains a lot and often. This will mean that your shoes often get wet, and you have to wash them, so it’s good to have a second option ready for the next day of training.
3. Nature of Your Training
Along with that, the nature of your training also matters – are you doing it for fun, as another form of exercise, or do you want to compete? Depending on the answer, you will find that if it’s just for fun – one pair is enough; if it’s for competition, you might need all four types.
4. Your Budget
Finally, you have also to take your budget into consideration. Running shoes, especially good ones, aren’t cheap, and buying multiple pairs throughout the years may cause your account to take a hit, so be mindful of the money you can spend when deciding to go for more than one pair.
For example, if you’re a bit tight on money and you’re wondering whether spending $300-400 dollars on race day shoes is worth it, the answer is no 99% of the time – while these so-called “super shoes” do improve performance, unless you’re competing for the Olympics or in contention for the world record, their price is not worth it.
As with most other sports, sportswear companies have also made us believe that in order to be better runners, we always have to own the newest, shiniest pair of shoes on the market. Or that we should have 15 pairs waiting on the shelf at home.
The reality is that you can be a fantastic runner with just one good pair, but if running is your hobby and you want to indulge, the sweet spot for most recreational athletes is between 2 and 4 pairs for each type of run you do.