How to break in trail running shoes: 7 Easy Steps

If you are new to trail running then it must be difficult for your to understand how to break in trail running shoes. You are not alone, many people at the beginning of their trail-running expedition face the same problems that you are facing. And people do have many other questions that are revolving in your head right now.

Don’t worry!

We are here to clear all your doubts about breaking into trail running shoes slowly and gradually.

Trail running is different from running on a racing track or a park’s walking track in many respects. Because of these differences, adjusting to the new trial running shoes might take you some time if you are just about to put a foot forward into your new passion.

Just like all other people, when you wear trail running shoes for hiking, you may also wonder about how to break in your new trail running shoes, then we have all the answers to your questions.

Before moving ahead, first, you need to understand the purpose of breaking into your trail running shoes, and the estimated time it will take you to begin your first trail run.

Why do you need to break in running shoes?

Your feet and shoes need familiarity with each other before they couple up to go on a trail run. That’s why you need to break in trail running shoes for maximizing comfort and support.

Once you break in shoes before going on the trail run, your shoes somehow change their shape to mold themselves according to the contours of your feet so that they fit snugly to your feet.

It also reduces your chances of developing blisters.

It adapts you to the feel of the shoes because trail running shoes are comparatively heavier than usual running shoes.

It will also give you an idea if there is anything wrong with the size so that you can change them before heading on the trail.

How long does it take to break in trail running shoes

Talking from experience, it varies from person to person because everyone has different judgment standards and tolerance for shoe comfortability.

As a rough estimation, it might take you to run 15 to 20 miles before getting the shoes broken.

Some might feel like their pair of shoes is perfect from the day they first wore it, while others might need to walk, jog, run, jump, and do all the errands to break in trail running shoes.

It also varies from shoe to shoe. You might feel more comfortable in one pair from the start and might not get the feel to go for a trail in another pair even if you have tried it to be broken.

How to break in trail running shoes

How to break in trail running shoes: 7 steps

1. Gradual Introduction: Easing into Your New Adventure

Your new trail running shoes might not be comfortable when you first wear them. You need to get your feet used to the new shoes which are most probably heavier and harsher on the feet than casual running shoes.

So just wear your shoes around the house and walk in them for 10 to 15 minutes daily to adapt the shoes to your feet and your feet to the shoes.

It is always better to accommodate slowly and gradually instead of facing a flare-up on the first go.

2. Sock and Lacing Techniques: Finding the Perfect Fit

The break-ib process for your new shoes might be tiring and often result in exhaustion and sweating. To remain motivated during such a scenario you need to make your shoes more comfortable for your to wear by choosing the right pair of socks and an ideal lacing technique for yourself.

Choose the type of socks that absorb more sweat to keep your feet dry and odorless. It also reduces the chances of blisters due to slippage and friction.

How you lace up the shoe matters for comfort. To ensure better locking for slippage prevention, we recommend the “heel lock” and “window lacing” techniques.

3. Gradual Increase in Activity: Building Endurance

Just like a warm-up is always recommended before a strenuous exercise, as you can wear trail running shoes in the gym, a short easy trail run is as much necessary before heading to a long-distance run.

Going straight for the longest trail is the biggest mistake that someone new to trail running should avoid.

Plan a few short easy trail runs in your new trail running shoes to break in the pair. Once you achieve a sense of comfort and stability in the shoes during short runs, then slowly increase the distance in the upcoming trail runs.

Every time increase only a little of the intensity and duration of the run until you and your trail running shoes are prepared for taking on the long runs.

4. Alternate with Old Shoes: Finding Balance

When you are constantly wearing new trail running shoes, your feet are subject to undue forces that can cause injury or foot pain.

Consider the break-in process as training for your feet. Just like your body needs rest periods between exercise sessions, your feet also need rest during the break-in process.

To avoid your feet being in any miserable condition, you must switch to using your old running shoes from time to time during the process of breaking in the new pair. Take it as a rest period for your feet.

5. Trail-Specific Break-In: Getting Acquainted with the Terrain

During trail running, you will come across different Terrain surfaces, so you need to get your feet and trail running shoes adapted to a variety of hard, curvy, and bumpy grounds.

Make sure to cover a variety of trails to break in trail running shoes to expose your shoes to all the conditions of terrains for efficient adaptation.

While you are breaking in, practice complex turns, jumps, and landing techniques as well as work on your agility and endurance. This will make you break in the shoes much faster.

6. Hotspot Prevention: Nipping Blisters in the Bud

While running in new trail shoes your feet are always prone to blistering due to friction. Treating these blisters is a real pain so it’s better to take preventive measures.

To avoid blisters, it is better to use athletic tapes and anti-chafe balms or gels over areas like the bony prominences of your feet that touch the shoes. Taping and gel protect your skin from rubbing against the shoe surface.

7. Listen to Your Feet: Acknowledging Discomfort

Be perceptive about the type of discomfort you are feeling when you first wear and run in the trail shoes. You need to be able to differentiate if your feet hurt because of the normal discomfort or if is it a pain associated with an injury or deformity.

Usually, the pain after an injury is localized and disabling, whereas the normal discomfort after wearing new shoes feels like slight irritation or itching rather than actual pain.


Can I speed up the break-in process?

Yes, you can speed up the break-in process by starting initially with light and short runs, wearing trail running shoes on the road is ok, then gradually adding long trails with varied ground surfaces. You can also practice quick turning, jumping, and turning feet with different angles to stretch the shoe so that it break-in faster.

Should I buy trail running shoes a size larger?

No, we don’t recommend it. You should buy your regular size because it will get used to your feet after broken in. Buying a size larger won’t fit snugly and your feet can slip more often in larger sizes increasing your chances of getting blisters due to friction. Your foot moves more and thus rubs more inside a shoe that is larger than your regular size.

What if my shoes still hurt after the break-in period?

You might be using the wrong size for your feet. Consider resizing and consulting with a specialist to choose the perfect pair for you. Check your feet for previous injuries because unhealed blisters acquired during the break-in process might be the cause of pain.

Can I use the same socks for breaking in new shoes?

You should use a pair of socks that absorb the most moisture, just use the same socks while fitting the size of your new shoes for a comfortable fit later on.

Conclusion: Trails Await Your Well-Broken-In Shoes

Before starting trail running make sure your shoes are well broken-in. Following the seven-step shoe beaking-in process your can achieve your goal faster and without causing injuries. Taking short walks, then transitioning to short running sessions, then adding short easy trails, and ultimately advancing to agility practice and longer trails can make your break-in process go smoothly. Once your shoes are well broken in, you will feel much more confident and comfortable wearing these trail shoes for heading towards the harder and longer trails.

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