I’ve often been asked by newbie runners whether they should wear racing shoes every time they join races. No doubt, runners by all means want to improve their times and wearing these racing shoes can make an appreciable difference in their finish times when they compete.
Racing shoes are relatively light compared to your ordinary training shoes and because they weigh less, they tend to allow you to run faster. But what if an overweight male runner who stands 5’5 tall, weighs 200 lbs and over-pronates asks for your suggestion on what racing shoe to buy that would compensate his heavy weight?
Should you really recommend a racing shoe for him just so he could slice off a few seconds off his PR or run faster?
Here are some guidelines to help you decide:
- Racing shoes for the efficient runner. If you have a biomechanically efficient stride, don’t have any current injuries and want light shoes to wear on races, then go for the racing shoe. Research show that if you train on a 12 oz. trainer to an 8 oz. racer, you can chop-off 15 seconds in a 5k or as much as 2 minutes in a marathon. Not much in my opinion but for some elite runners, every second count.
- Racing shoes makes you feel faster and psyches you up for faster-paced racing. A race day is different from your ordinary training days as you come prepared for the rigors of the race and revs you up to do your best and probably achieve the PR that you have always been pinning for.
- BIG, heavy runners should avoid it. That should be the advise given for that 200 lb-overweight runner as he would need a lot of cushioning and stability that racing shoes don’t have. Better to play it safe and stick to his training shoe.
- Racing shoes don’t offer enough cushioning. If you need a lot of cushioning, it’s better to stick with your trainers as racing shoes offer 20% less cushioning than your ordinary trainer.
- Avoid racing shoes if you need extra support and stability. Racing shoes are light because they offer less stability, support and motion control features. If you over-pronate, the more you should avoid them.
- Racing shoes are ideal for 5k and 10k races, the theory being the less you race in them, the better to avoid the risk of injury. They are ideal for middle distances but leave them home when you run races from the half-marathon distance and more.
- Don’t wear your racers if you’re slightly injured or just recovering from an injury. I know of many runners who have taken a long lay-off to heal their injuries only to aggravate them when they come back and race, and in racing shoes at that! We sure can’t prevent anybody from racing soon after an injury but it will help, if you run on your regular trainers to minimize muscle tear.
- AN ALTERNATIVE: Consider wearing performance or lightweight trainers instead of racing flats! These shoes are designed for fast-paced racing and training and for long-distance racing, as well. Most weigh about 10 oz which is midway between a training shoe and a racing flat but offers better protection than the typical racing flat.
- If you’re still undecided what to race on race day, your training shoe will suffice! Nuff said…