BMT: Running Shoes

If you’re conditioning yourself for BMT, chances are you’re running.  At least, I hope you’re running.  Don’t wait for BMT to see how you fare at running.  But wait, let’s get back to shoes…

A foot scan will determine the necessary support.  When you arrive at the BMT reception center, one of the first things you’ll do is step onto the foot scanners.  Most running shops have something similar.  They measure where you’re putting pressure on your feet when you’re standing, as well as to measure arches.  It spits out a report that will state what sort of support you need, your arch height, and your shoe size for all of the military issued shoes.

You are not “issued” running shoes.  Nope!  These aren’t freebies!  You’ll head over to a building across from the clothing issue where you’ll be using your EZ Pay card to purchase your new running shoes.  We’re not shopping either, you won’t have a selection.  The sales associates will take a quick glance at your printout and quickly ring you up for the ones necessary for your feet.  When I was there, the stability shoe being offered for sale was the Asics Gel 1160.  They ended up costing approximately $70.
BMT: Running Shoes
You are not required to buy their shoes.  They might suggest it, to maintain uniformity with the rest of your flight members, but it’s not required if you’ve brought an acceptable pair of your own.  You must make a decision though.  If you buy their shoes and have your own, one pair will need to go in your civilian luggage.  You can’t have both in your shoe display.  Your selected running shoes will be laundry marked, re-laced, and tied off at the ends.   
My Experience and Recommendations
I started training four months prior to leaving for BMT.  I went and had my gait assessed at a running shop, which I highly recommend.  They’ll go beyond the analysis that you’ll receive at the BMT Reception Center.  A good running shop will have you do the foot sensor, as well as videotape you while you run on a treadmill.  They’ll see how your foot strikes the surface and determine the best shoe for your feet.  Did you know that your running shoe needs to be a size larger than your street shoe?  Being properly fitted was a great decision that I made.  My shoes were pricier than the BMT ones, but I knew that the sales associates spent time finding the best solution for my needs.
Air Force BMT: Running Shoes
If you purchase a shoe that you intend to take down to BMT with you, find something with a subdued color scheme.  This is not the time to splurge on those eye-catching, multi-colored kicks.  Remember, you don’t want to call unnecessary attention to yourself.  We had a trainee who brought down her hot pink running shoes.  She ended up with a new pair of Asics, needless to say.  Mine was New Balances in tones of grey and white, with some darker cranberry accents, and they worked out fine.  Another trainee I knew had the Reebok zig-zag ones, in black with white soles and those were acceptable as well.
If you require or prefer to wear a special insert in your shoes, go ahead and put them in your pre-purchased running shoes and you shouldn’t have any issues bringing them down to BMT.  Many of the trainees in my flight weren’t happy with their Asics and purchased cheaper inserts at the mini-mall when given the opportunity.  Better to come to BMT equipped with what you need then to come up short.  With my broken-in New Balances that I’d been used to training in, I never had shin splints and never got any blisters (my boots didn’t affect my feet either).  Blisters can be a significant issue for a lot of trainees, so if you can prevent that, do it!  
photo Air Force BMT: Running Shoes
If you buy your own running shoes, wear them as the only pair you bring with you to BMT.  It’ll save you space in your luggage since you’re not allowed to check any bags.
If you’re a minimalist runner, know that you won’t be able to get away with wearing Vibram Five Fingers.  You are required to wear the issued, standard PT socks, pulled all the way up.  When I got to a tech school, I learned that these shoes were authorized, albeit with a white sock of some sort.
Happy trails, runners!



  • Erinsaid

    @ashleynicole09 – Putting in white laces is definitely a good call. I'd say bring the shoes. Worst case scenario, your MTI will make you buy shoes down there, but they may let you get away with them. Doesn't hurt to try! You should be able to wear those at tech school.

  • ashleynicole09said

    Okay! Thank you. I knew the laces wouldn't fly by them LOL, but just wasn't sure about that bottom part. Ill just see what happens.

  • Erinsaid

    @queen smalls – You MIGHT be ok with those – not sure if the gold will be a no-no for your MTI. You should be fine to wear them at tech school though, if not at BMT.

  • Brandon Pearsonsaid

    Hello. I just received my new running shoes in the mail and now I'm worried. when I ordered them, they appeared like a dark orange but instead, they are a "infrared" color. I don't have a link to them but maybe you can google them. they are the Adidas adizero feather 2's. the colors are white, black, and "infrared." I already changed the laces to black just to make things better but will this kind of orange make me stand out enough to get them taken away?

  • Erinsaid

    @Brandon Pearson – Worst case scenario, you'll have to buy the shoes down there and your Adidas will be kept in the civilian luggage closet for you to wear again at tech school. They won't actually take them away, fortunately!

  • Lauren Stonesaid

    I'm a huge vibram lover! I typically run in New Balance Minimus, so my question is are these authorized if I purchase a solid black pair? I had heard they weren't allowing recruits to bring their own shoes to basic anymore. Is that a rumor or fact? Thanks again for an amazing blog!

  • Auniesaid

    Erin, on 1/24 the AF came out with a new rule that allows for ANY color of PT shoe to be worn… yep, even the brightest of the brights. Do you think they'll allow this new rule at BMT or only at home during PT tests? I suppose my real question is, even though the rules officially now permit bright shoes, is it still safer to wear simple & plain ones to BMT?

  • Christina Cofflinsaid

    Hi Aunie, I'm leaving in about a month and a half. A friend I graduated high school with just left BMT 2 weeks ago, he's in tech school now. He said that they can wear ANY color PT shoe that they want. He was amazed at the colors he saw.

  • Erinsaid

    @Christina Cofflin – Thanks for your reply! Since that last comment, Aunie's been and graduated from BMT and is now at tech school after a break in training! 🙂 She's actually probably graduated/graduating from tech school soon! Oh, how things have changed with shoe colors.

  • Mari Rosesaid

    Hello, just curious about this shoe thing. I am looking at this summer for BMT and I just bought a pair of asic gels in black. I use an arch support in them for extra measure. Is this okay?

  • AkilahWakiyasaid

    I am joining and I just received a BMT packing list. It says that I will be purchasing running shoes upon arrival based upon my particular physiology. However, my recruiter said that this is not true any longer, and to bring my own running shoes: no Five Fingers.

  • Erinsaid

    @AkilahWakiya – Go with your recruiter's info. I would recommend getting fitted locally before you leave (if it's in the budget), and breaking in those shoes. Keep them as subdued as you can.