If you have more than 8 weeks before your goal race…
Here’s where you have a little more room to experiment.With over eight weeks before your race, your body has more time to adjust to a new shoe. You don’t want to do anything overly drastic—like moving from a cushy trainer to a zero-drop flat—but you can choose a shoe based more on feel without trying to completely match your current shoe’s specifications.
Keep in mind the upcoming training demands you’ll be placing on the shoe. Will you be running a lot of longer runs? Tons of speed work? Your training structure should help you find a starting point for shoe choice. If you’ll be logging lots of miles, find a supportive shoe that gives you the right level of cushioning for your planned training.
Be wary of changing your heel-to-toe drop more than 4mm in either direction. Sticking with a similar drop profile will minimize additional stress on the legs and feet and will help mitigate the risk of injury. A step-down approach is your best bet when trying to move to a lower heel-to-toe-drop mid-season.
If you are in your offseason…
Your offseason is a great time to experiment with a brand-new-to-you shoe. With no race on the horizon, you can choose a shoe that feels good, but may be very different from your current shoe of choice. With time on your side, you can phase the shoe in slowly, running only a few miles at a time and working your way up to longer, more difficult runs together.
One final note
No matter how long you have until your goal race, when introducing a new shoe, you’ll want to slowly rotate it into your training.
Wear your older shoe for the majority of the first week and introduce the newcomer on a couple of shorter runs. The second week, try wearing the new shoe for an additional run or two, and so on—building up until you are in the new shoe constantly. This will give your body time to adjust to the new shoe and minimizes the injury risk.
Above all, don’t panic! Finding a new shoe can be stressful, but, once accomplished, you can look forward to the feeling of fresh, bouncy new shoes to propel you to your next PR. That is, until they discontinue it again.
Find your next race.