As requested, I’m continuing the series of questions and thoughts from working in the running store. If you have any questions or topics you would like answered, feel free to ask below.
Week 1: Common Questions Asked
Week 2: Today: Should You Run in Racing Flats?
Thinking out loud, when I race and do speed work, I use a lighter shoe. Since I run high mileage, during daily runs I like the extra cushion and weight to keep me healthy. Personally, it makes me feel more comfortable while training.
This post, however, is about racing flats!
How did I get started in racing flats? In college, we raced in spikes. A spike is just a very light weight shoe with spikes at the bottom. Since college was on cross country courses, the spikes served to grip dirt and grass better. Athletes running on the track also use spikes.
Spikes are similar to a soccer cleat. You can’t run on pavement in spikes, or it wears down the actual “pointed spike, ” and they’ll break.
During the offseason and after college, I also wanted to race in a light weight shoe. I feel faster when I run in flats, and typically I do run faster.
There is no point in training in a flat because the goal of an easy run is not to run fast.
For comparison purposes, the average weight of trainers are about 10 ounces versus the average weight of flats are 5.
The first flat I ever purchased was the Nike Waffle. It was the exact version of the spike I used to race in (but without the spike plate in).
I’ve run every distance from a 1-mile race to my first marathon (which was dumb). 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.
After realizing I liked a little bit more cushion in my racing flat than the waffle, I graduated to the Nike Streak Streak (I’ve gone through several models of both 1 and 2). The shoe is much softer and only weighs an ounce more than the waffle flat.
Keep in mind, what works for me might not work for you and it’s important to find a shoe you are comfortable in. Out of any racing flat, I’ve had the Nike Streak LT racer has been my favorite (and no, Nike is not paying me to say that).
Recently, I’ve been running more in the Saucony Type A.
So now that I’ve given my personal background why choose to race in flats?
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 on your feet for 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 not a good idea to train in flats. If you train all of your runs in flats, you will probably hurt yourself.
- It also takes longer to recover because your feet are taking more of a pounding from the pavement. I’ve always found myself sorer after racing in flats.
How to Get Started in Flats:
As most people know, I work in a running store and 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 slowly work into them.
Don’t go run a 5k, half or marathon in new shoes.
I recommend first trying a few SHORT training runs and seeing how you like them.
First try a (fast) mile, then 2 miles…then race a 5k.
Once you have raced a few 5ks, try longer distances.
I can’t emphasize enough how important it is not to just jump into a race wearing flats. Not only are they a brand new shoe from your trainer, but flats are drastically different shoe than what most people train in!
If you go from never using a flat to racing a distance event, you run the risk of injury.
Personally, 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?