Racing shoes can come in many forms. With lots of options, finding the right pair of racers might not be hard, but do you really need them? Read on the learn the differences between racing shoes and normal training shoes and the potential benefits and risks of racing in a lighter shoe than you train in.
Let’s start with the basics. Training shoes are heavier, thicker and more supportive than racing flats or lightweight training shoes. Normal training shoes typically come in weighing anywhere from 8-10 ounces per shoe while lightweight training shoes range from 5-7 ounces per shoe and racing flat can be as light as 3-4 ounces. The reason those other types of shoes weigh less than your regular trainers is because they have less cushioning and less support. That being said, these are some of the pros and cons of sporting a barely there pair on race day.
- A lighter shoe is that your muscles don’t have to work quite so hard to pick up each foot. Studies have shown that each ounce you remove from the weight of your shoe can increase your speed by one second per mile. Take off three ounces, that’s three seconds per mile and almost ten seconds off your 5k time.
- Lighter racing shoes can also make you feel faster. They’re special for race day. Just like your lucky underwear or breakfast, your shiny race shoes might not only weigh less but make you feel lighter, faster and more positive.
Unfortunately for some runners, lighter shoes won’t have much of an impact and can actually cause problems. Here are some potential problems to keep in mind before you trot off to the running store for a new pair of racing shoes.
- The limited cushioning in racing flats or lightweight trainers mean they don’t provide a lot of buffer between your foot and the ground you’re running on. This lack of support, motion control and stability can be problematic for those who need them.
- Light racing shoes might not be for you if you’re worried about an injury, tired, sore or are one of those who need lots of support and cushioning.
- Consider what you’re wearing them for. A 5-, 8- or 10k isn’t very long and doesn’t give you lots of time to get hurt. For a 10 miler, half or full marathon, your regular trainer, lightweight trainers and performance trainers are probably a better answer.
If you do decide to give lightweight trainers or racing flats a try, be sure to run in them before you race and talk to your coach about your decision. You wouldn’t wear brand new shorts on race day and it’s not a good time to experiment with new footwear, either. Racing shoes can be a big change from your regular runners and your body will need time to learn how to adjust.
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