The Racing Flat.

As most readers know, I like to train in heavier and more cushioned shoes. When I do speed work, I’ll train in my flats but other then that I prefer the heavier shoes.  Since I’m doing higher mileage, I like the extra cushion and weight to keep me healthy.  It makes me feel more comfortable while training.  This is obviously not the everyone’s taste in running shoes but it is mine.

One of my coworkers always says: “Running shoe cushion is like money and you can never have enough money”. Isn’t that the truth?

Right now my high cushioned shoe of choice is the Saucony Triumph. After having an issue with the Asics Nimbus 17, I’ve found the triumph to be a great training shoe for me (I’m on shoe number 2).

This post, however, is about racing flats!

I don’t race in the same shoes I train in.

I think racing in a different shoe comes from beginning to run in college.  In college we raced in spikes.  A spike is just a a very light weight shoe with spikes at the bottom. Since most of college was on cross country courses, the spikes served to grip on dirt better.

It’s similar to a soccer cleat.  You can’t run on pavement in spikes or the spikes will wear down and break.

Throwback to college racing
Throwback to college racing

When I entered the world of road racing, I also went after a light weight shoe. It just seemed normal to me.  The average weight of my trainers have been about 10 ounces. The average weight of my flats have been about 5 ounces.

The first flat I ever purchased was the Nike Waffle. It was the exact platform of the spike I used to race in (but without the spike plate in).

4 years ago with my first flat.
4 years ago with my first (muddy) flat.

I’ve run every distance from a 1 mile race to my first marathon. To be honest, I raced my marathon in that shoe because I didn’t know any better. While I didn’t get injured from it, I will never do that again.  Most people (myself included) need more cushion during a marathon.

Hashtag so dumb.
Hashtag so dumb.

After realizing I liked a little bit more cushion in my racing flat I graduated to the Nike Streak LT racer (I’ve gone through several models of both 1 and 2). The shoe is much softer and only weighs an ounce more then the waffle flat. I raced my last full marathon in that shoe and had no issues.  You can see at the bottom there is a little bit more cushion to it.

Just crossing the finishing line like a bird...with my flats.
Just crossing the finishing line like a bird…with my flats.

I’ve never had any issues with it and it’s a great weight flat.  It’s one I recommend for anyone who likes more cushion but a very light weight shoe to race.

streaklt

This Spring I decided to try a completely new racing flat all together.

Maybe it was because I’ve been injured for so long or maybe it’s because I decided to live life on the edge.

My friend Austin and I in our matching Saucony A6s.  Bright colored twinning!
My friend Austin and I in our matching Saucony A6s. Bright colored twinning!

Either way I’ve raced the last few 5ks in the Saucony A6 and honestly I really like them.  I haven’t had the opportunity to race anything longer in them but I plan too.

So now that I’ve given a bit of my personal background, why racing flats?

A lighter shoe improves turn over. With less weight on your feet, it’s easier to run and increase your turnover. Think about it, less weight (to an extent…) produces faster times.  Carrying an extra few ounces thousands of strides really adds up.

Disadvantages of Flats:

  • You are more prone to injury: since there is little to no cushion in a flat, you are more susceptible to injury.  Think about those who train solely in Nike frees or minimalist shoes…that is why it’s a bad idea to train in flats.
  •  It also takes longer to recover because your feet are taking more of a pounding from the pavement. I’ve always found myself more sore after racing in flats.

How to go about racing in flats:
Honestly I tell people the same thing whether it’s kids going to their first XC race, customers at work, blog readers or whomever…you have to work into them.  

Don’t go run a 5k, half or run marathon in new shoes. 

I recommend first trying a few SHORT training runs and seeing how they work. First try a mile, then 2 miles…then race a 5k. Once you have raced a few 5ks try longer distances. It’s not something I would just jump right into. Not only are they a brand new shoe but it’s a drastically different shoe than what most people train in!  If you go from never running in a flat to racing, you have a high chance of getting injured.

I love the feeling of racing in a different and lighter shoe.  I have no plans to change that!

If you have anymore questions feel free to ask away.  I really enjoy the benefits of racing in flats.  I do alway feel faster and stronger.

Questions for you:

Do you race in flats?

What advice would you give someone beginning to race in flats?