How To Break In New Running Kicks (OCD style)

Occasionally I write as a public service. It makes me feel all PBS inside. I really like to geek out with my beak out Big Bird style all the while knowing the world is a better place because I told it what to do.



Just found out the truth about Bert and Ernie.

So as a public service announcement to minimalist and former minimalist runners everywhere, the secret's out: Vibrams don't count as running shoes anymore. So try again. If you own a pair of those finger toe sandal thingies that have Velcro straps across them, I want you to push away from your mobile device, fetch them, and throw them in the trash right now. Not the inside kitchen trash either where you might be tempted to later dig them back out when you’ve had time to think it over. Throw them in the dumpster outside your neighborhood. Better yet, hop in your car and rush without delay to deposit them in the nearest recyclable rubber products bin. We’ll wait for you.


I know. You'd run a mile in these shoes without judging and whatnot. But they're just not that cool despite the road worn AC flaps.

Also, since you’re making a trash trip anyway, you might as well go ahead and toss any and all shoes that utilize Velcro. If you struggle with the art form formerly known as shoe tying, Google an online tutorial or buy yourself one of those spider monkeys trained to peel bananas and tie shoes for the fingerless.

I know those Velcro running shoes are no good because I used to be of the Velcro-happy non-shoe-tying splayed-toes in a finger-fashion runner variety. Albeit I admit I'm regularly one of those people that excites herself over the next training fad. I'm one to run out and buy the new barefoot-simulating shoes, so I can run in a way that is “better for health.” I belong to the kind of people that take their feet that have no motor skill or strength, slap on their new shoes and take a long run on the paved streets in their neighborhood, their upper body falling out in front of them, increasing the G-forces of their landing with every lovin' slap-happy step.


via Vibram FiveFingers on Facebook.

Well I used to be one of those Fivefinger kinds. That is until I came down with a nasty heel injury two years into my 'barefoot' running career. Blisters were also frustrating commonplace on my toes and my dogs just hurt downright especially on the top of the feet. So I tossed my toe fingers aside and traded up for maximalist magic unicorn horn fiber cushioning in the Hoka Kailua Tarmac. I talked about them a little here when I first got them.

These are not ordinary Mom taking the kids to school shoes. I’m talking about big, scary, nosebleed high shoes. The higher the heel, the more empowered one becomes. If you're ever in a pinch and liquor and/or a babysitter are not readily available, I highly recommend putting on crazy tall Hoka One One shoes prior to opening a can of name brand whoop ass on the road or trail.

With my cruel moon boots on, I could easily kick Jean-Claude Van Damme's behind like no other if he for some unknown reason decided to show up in my house for no good reason. Of course, I realize he's about seventy now and has to be routinely diapered since that Volvo split ad and subsequent zero gravity split last year so that statement doesn't mean as much today as it did in 2013, but you get the idea.



Van Damme may have done an epic zero gravity split in moon boots. But Chuck Norris was driving both satellites.

I just feel like my kick butt Aquamarine high-heeled running shoes can fix anything. Bad outfits, horrible relationships, lasting effects of mini joy strokes. I'm thoroughly convinced if my first several boyfriends had worn Hoka One One high heel moon boots, we'd all be living together in a commune somewhere.

But even though I’ve liked the Hokas from the start, I know I need to get new ones ASAP after 400 miles because the puff in the cushion starts to wear down at this point even though I've found most Hokas are good for at least 600 miles. However, as I sit here this morning, slamming coffee as fast as I can swallow and googling "how to break in new running shoes really fast", I am reasonably certain I am heading for a complete melt down. I can feel the crazy so close, I keep turning around to check for a guy wearing a clown wig along with a Burger King crown made out of tin foil sneaking up on me.

Why? Why am I a lovely bunch of cocktail nuts this morning?

No one really seems to know how long it takes before running shoes are broken in. That's why.

Hokas have proven to be my friend, so even if I can't find an expert opinion on how to break them in I figure I'll keep going back to the same pair of Kailua Tarmacs. Breaking the new pair in by wearing them around has felt really good on my sore feet so far and I'm hoping that continues.

However, I’ve been looking for a definitive breaking-in-new-running-shoes guide because I'm really bad about breaking them in. The main issue is I just want to run a lot of miles in them right away. It’s kind of like when I make oatmeal cream pies explode in the microwave—I can never wait for them to cool. I just suffer through the burning hot temp because I’m excited. Mmm Little Debbie's… What was I talking about? Right, breaking in new running shoes.


Got a crisis of your own? Here's a little advice from me to you. If you have a problem, solve it with shoes first (and oatmeal cream pies if you cannot access shoes first). However instead of getting blisters and sore feet from new shoes like I've done in the past, be determined to break those babies in the right way. As I mentioned I don't even know how to “properly” break them in. So, I figure maybe others like me might appreciate a little compilation of advice on the subject from the internet. After all, if Google can't find an answer, it's not a question.

So here goes:

When you get a new pair of running shoes feel their magic power to turn desserts into muscle, then make sure to do the following to break them in before you go scarfing down a chocolate decadence five layer fudge cake:

1.  Walk around in them for a few days. If you can wear them to your job as a super heroine, go for it! The fastest way to break in new shoes is to wear them from the moment you wake up in the morning kicking butt to the time you get back into bed at night after making chocolate disappear. Hey, retaining water is a valid super power and so is scaring your man into the man cave for a week. You'll be genuinely excited that you get to wear reasonable shoes when you go out to get in fights and swing from rooftops while dodging bullets -- all things that should never been attempted with barefoot shoes. By placing your super powers on the insoles, you are breaking up the shoe insert, forming it to your foot shape, and allowing it to bend when you run. After walking and running some short runs in them, you can then feel more comfortable with some long runs.

2.  Slowly incorporate them into your long run schedule though. For example, if you run several days a week, you could start out by wearing them during a few of those runs and gradually increase. By running more and more in them every week, you can compare how they feel to your most recent shoes, testing if they’re helping or hurting you. Plus, wearing your new running shoes everywhere might actually increase your chance of running.

3.  Pay attention to how your body feels. I’m not just talking about your feet here. Your shoes can affect your entire body because ill-fitting ones can throw off your alignment and make you sore in other areas you may not associate with a shoe fit. Whether your shoes are too small, rub you the wrong way, or make you change your stride to cope with pain, you may need try a different pair. Everyone has different feet and may need different types of shoes. Unfortunately, sometimes you have to learn that the hard way like that time when you used to have toenails that weren't black or missing.

4.  And finally Socks. White tube socks may be the best ever when wearing combat boots or doing some manly thing that requires dressing in camo patterns, hunting for bears or sitting in a deer stand getting drunk. Conversely, wearing them with your running shoes is beyond manly. It’s old-manly. I wanna see some leg hair, Baby. Also, a bit of plush under the sole of your feet protects them. The socks also have to be a bit thicker at the heels to protect your joints against the impact of the ground. The brand name of toe socks that provide all these things is Injinji, which apparently is French for "slightly-expensive retail price but worth it in anti-blister toe sock awesomeness". Injinji toe socks are also the best anti-blister remedy I’ve yet discovered. These socks are a work of art and engineering in the toe sock making business.



These blue Injinji's come in a 3-pack and are cute as bugs. (Not cockroaches or picnic flies, but more like Lady Bugs and pretend cartoon bugs in kids’ movies.)

5.  Yes, I did say “and finally” on the number before this one. I had a flash of OCD and don't like that number so I could never end with it or else bad things will happen to good obsessive-compulsive people like me. Trust me. When I’m not doubled over in debilitating pain tomorrow, you’ll thank me.

I'm sorry to cut this how-to guide off so abruptly kids, but it's time to go to break in my new Hokas and I have yet to stew my chocolate lab in peroxide. Don't freak out. I'm really just lathering her up to get her clean in a bath, but the words "stew" and "peroxide" make me happy.

When I get like this it's never one thing that got me here. It's always more like a big bunch of little frustrations during which I stuffed the OCD flag down instead of letting it fly. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is a lot like a shaken bottle of Mountain Dew. If you release it slowly and carefully, nobody gets sticky "doing the Dew".

Let's just say that I'm in such a state, if I don't break in these new Hokas soon it is highly likely anyone who stands near me today is going to need a roll of paper towels.


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