Should I Wear New Running Shoes for a Marathon?

Female runner tying shoe lace in a urban area

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One of the most common questions marathon runners ask in the days leading up to their big race is, "Should I wear new running shoes for a marathon?" You're probably already aware that you shouldn't run in old, worn-out running shoes—either for long runs or for race day.

During training, you should be replacing your running shoes every 300 to 400 miles. As you wear them, they lose their cushioning ability, and they can be worn out internally long before you see changes in the condition of the soles or uppers.

But while you will run in new shoes during training, you shouldn't wear new shoes on race day. This means that you will need to plan ahead to have a pair that has been worn through a couple of your long training runs but is still relatively fresh for the marathon.

In addition to getting the proper wear in your shoes, you need to wear your race day shoes through one or more long training runs so you know if that particular pair has any quirks that will give you hot spots or blisters.

How Many Miles on Marathon Shoes?

Shoes shouldn't be too old or too new for your actual race. They need some miles because at least one small study showed that brand-new shoes are not as flexible—they need a little break-in. On marathon day, wear shoes that have about 40 to 50 miles on them, so they still have most of their cushioning left.

Ideally, you should buy a new pair of running shoes about three weeks before your race and do several short runs and one longer run in them. In case this pair has a specific problem and needs to be returned, you want to give yourself enough lead time to exchange them and try out the final pair in the same way.

If you've been happy with the running shoes you've worn during training, get another pair of the same ones for your marathon. There's no reason to change anything or try something new when you're so close to your race day. Stick to the standard marathon advice of "Nothing new on race day."

Should I Wear Race-Day Shoes the Day Before the Marathon?

Wearing your marathon running shoes the day before your marathon means that they won't have time to decompress before your race. Try to wear a different pair of running shoes when walking around or doing a shake-out run the day before your marathon.

Shoes for a Destination Marathon

If you're traveling to your marathon, this means bringing along more than one pair of shoes. If you want to pack lightly for air travel, wear your non-race shoes and bring your race shoes in your carry-on bag. It's risky to pack your race shoes in checked luggage. In fact, some marathoners pack all of their race day outfit in their carry on rather than risk it going astray.

If something happens to your race shoes, such as lost luggage, you'll be the most secure if you wore your second-best pair and you can race in them. If the worst-case scenario happens and you have to buy new shoes at your destination, buy the same model you've been training in. Walk around in them the day before the marathon to help break them in.

4 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. American Podiatric Medical Association. What is a foot or ankle sprain or fracture?.

  2. Rethnam U, Makwana N. Are old running shoes detrimental to your feet? A pedobarographic study. BMC Res Notes. 2011;4:307.  doi:10.1186/1756-0500-4-307

  3. Gething D. Relentless: Seven Marathons, Seven Continents, Seven Days. Rowman & Littlefield, 2018.

  4. Higdon H. Marathon, Revised and Updated 5th Edition: The Ultimate Training Guide: Advice, Plans, and Programs for Half and Full Marathons. Rodale Books, 2020.

By Christine Luff, ACE-CPT
Christine Many Luff is a personal trainer, fitness nutrition specialist, and Road Runners Club of America Certified Coach.