As you prepare for the Comrades Marathon, one crucial aspect of your preparation is ensuring your running shoes are in optimal condition. 

Running in worn-out shoes can lead to discomfort, injuries, and subpar performance, which is the last thing you want in such a demanding race.

This guide provides detailed advice on the best timing and practices for changing your running shoes before the Comrades Marathon.

Understanding Shoe Lifespan

The lifespan of a running shoe is typically around about 800 kilometres. 

However, this can vary based on factors such as your weight, running style, and the terrain on which you train. Heavier runners may need to replace their shoes closer to the 800-kilometre mark, while lighter runners might extend their use a bit further.

Related: How To Find Your Perfect Running Shoe

Signs Your Shoes Need Replacing:

  • Calf Niggles and Foot Pains: These are often early indicators that your shoes are no longer providing adequate support.
  • Visible Wear and Tear: Look for worn-out soles, compressed midsoles, and frayed uppers.
  • Loss of Comfort and Cushioning: If your shoes feel less comfortable and provide less cushioning than when they were new, it’s time for a replacement.

Timing Your Shoe Change

Timing is crucial when it comes to changing your running shoes before the Comrades Marathon. You want to ensure you have enough time to break in your new shoes but not so much time that they become worn out again before race day.

Key Timing Recommendations:

  • Early March: If you plan to switch brands or models, do this no later than early March. This allows ample time to adjust to the new shoes and ensure they suit your running style.
  • Late April: Ideally, you should aim to buy your new shoes around late April. This timing provides enough opportunity to log between 200 and 400 kilometres in the new pair, ensuring they are well broken in but not overly worn.
  • Emergency Replacement: Modern running shoes are generally well-made, and if an emergency arises, you can replace your shoes closer to race day. However, ensure you have at least 2 to 3 weeks before the marathon to put in a minimum of 100 to 150 kilometers. This ensures your feet adjust to the shoes and there are no unforeseen issues.

Breaking in New Shoes

Once you’ve purchased your new pair, breaking them in properly is crucial. This process helps your feet settle into the shoes and ensures you don’t experience any discomfort during the race.

Related: New Running Shoes: Do They Need To Be Broken In?

Steps to Break in New Running Shoes:

  1. Start Gradually: Wear your new shoes for short, easy runs initially. This helps your feet adjust to any subtle differences in fit and support.
  2. Alternate Shoes: Continue using your old pair for some of your runs while gradually increasing the distance you run in your new shoes.
  3. Monitor Comfort: Pay attention to any discomfort or unusual aches. Minor adjustments in lacing or insoles can sometimes resolve these issues.

Practical Tips for Shoe Shopping

When shopping for new running shoes, especially for a race as demanding as the Comrades Marathon, consider the following practical tips:

  1. Stick with What Works: If your current shoes have served you well, it’s often best to stick with the same make and model. This reduces the risk of unforeseen issues.
  2. Shop Later in the Day: Your feet swell throughout the day, so shopping later ensures you get a better fit.
  3. Bring Your Old Shoes: Take your old pair to the store. The wear patterns can provide valuable insights to the salesperson about your running style and needs.
  4. Test Them Out: Walk or jog around the store in the new shoes. Ensure they feel comfortable and provide the support you need.

Changing your running shoes at the right time and breaking them in properly can significantly impact your performance and comfort during the Comrades Marathon.

Plan your purchase around late April, giving yourself enough time to log sufficient mileage in your new pair. If you need to change brands or models, do so by early March to allow for any adjustments.By paying attention to the condition of your shoes and timing your replacement strategically, you can ensure that your footwear supports you all the way to the finish line. Good luck with your training, and may you have a successful and enjoyable Comrades Marathon!


With a passion for high performance sport – Lindsey Parry is one of South Africa’s most widely recognised coaches. Having led a team to the London, Rio and Tokyo Olympic Games as well as the Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh, the Gold Coast & Birmingham, and coached both triathletes and runners onto podiums of some of the world’s most illustrious races, Lindsey has a unique ability to understand what it takes to succeed at any level and thrives on coaching, motivating and inspiring others to do the same – whether it’s on the track, on stage or behind a mic.

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