Racing Shoes: How Footwear Makes a Difference
Just two weeks back, we all sat amazed at watching not only the first man break 2 hours in the marathon but also the women’s world record going down after 16 years. One common factor in both performances was the type of racing shoe both athletes wore. Now this is not a shoe review nor a critique on modern shoe technology, but we do want to point out both athletes wore a shoe specific for their event. Now, their shoes were a representation of the newest innovations in racing shoe technology, but you don't have to go that far to find an optimal racing shoe.
Many of you may already have a specific “race shoe” or racing flat, but some of you are still probably wearing the shoe that you train in everyday. While there is no problem with racing in your trainers, you likely can benefit from changing up your footwear for workouts or race day. Depending on what event you are doing and what your goal is, you may certainly benefit from having a pair of specific racing shoes.
The idea behind racing shoes is that you are choosing a footwear item that is lighter than your everyday trainers. It’s common sense that lighter probably means faster, but if you are looking for proof, feel free to dig into some research on racing shoes. The conclusion you will find is a lighter shoe helps reduce metabolic cost in comparison to a more cushioned heavier shoe (i.e. the shoe you are probably wearing for everyday running). Not only do you get a physical benefit from a lightweight trainer, but you also get that little mental boost of knowing you are putting on your race specific footwear and it is time to go run hard.
Now a couple of things to note, you don’t have to buy a shoe that you only use on race day. You should have used this shoe before you toe the line to ensure it is a good fit for you. You can use this shoe for speedwork or whatever quality session you have in the week. This way you are familiar with the feel.
You don’t have to go for a minimalist flat if you are not comfortable with a minimally cushioned light shoe. As long as you are seeking something slightly lighter weight that feels responsive (that bouncy feeling), you are probably going to notice a difference. A "high cushion shoe" is less likely to provide the responsiveness you are looking for in a racing shoe.
For reference, one of the most popular trainers in the running world right now is the Brooks Ghost. For men this shoe is ~10.1 oz. for a size 9, for women it is ~8.8 oz for a size 8. If a person wearing the Ghost was nervous about moving towards something more minimal, maybe they would try a Brooks Launch. Simply by choosing a trainer in the same family that is slightly lighter you save close to 1 oz., and that is a noticeable amount.
We recommend checking out your local running store to find out what shoe could be good racing footwear for you. Our friends and partners at Fleet Feet, Huntsville can help you find what shoe fits best for your racing needs.