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Ain't nothing going to break my stride, not even a pair of new shoes.
One-hit 80s wonder, Matthew Wilder had a hit with Break my Stride - Ain't nothing going to break my stride, nobody's going to slow me down. He obviously wasn't singing about his new pair of running shoes, because everyone knows running long distances in new shoes is guaranteed to break your stride AND slow you down. Right? It appears this piece of common sense, handed down from previous generations is now up for debate. Should you break in your shoes? Or should shoes be run-ready from the point of purchase?
Pain experienced when you first start running in new shoes may be because the shoes you are wearing are not designed for running. Cross-trainers won't provide the extra shock absorption and cradle your foot in the way long-distance runners need. And vice versa, running shoes don't provide the ankle support or motion stability you need if you attend Crossfit.
Uncomfortable shoes may also be due to the shoe not meeting the individual requirements of your feet. Flat-footed runners need to choose shoes with motion stability, to help you avoid rolling your ankle. If you have high arches, you'll need running shoes with extra cushioning to reduce the impact on your lower legs. Understanding pronation will help you select the right fit.
Another reason for discomfort could be due to the transitional period where you've graduated from shoes with structured stability instead of your old worn out favourites. Your shoes will become more comfortable as your foot adapts to the correct positioning.
So who's right? Well it seems like the best judge is your feet. If your shoes aren't comfortable in the shop or walking at home, they're not going to be comfortable 3km into a half marathon. Comfortable running shoes may provide a little initial discomfort during the transitional period, but it won't take long before until they feel like the perfect fit.
New shoes may break your stride and slow you down initially, but if they are the source of continual pain, get it checked out as it may cause long-term damage to your feet.