I was trying to search the community for this answer, but the search engine kept returning results about racing, not racing flats so any help would be greatly appreciated....
I was shoe shopping yesterday and the guy at the store was trying to sell me on a pair of racing flats for my upcoming half marathon. I have run 6 halfs over the past few years, and I have been struggling to reach my time goal of 2:00 minutes faster than my best time. Will these shoes get me there, or is it a gimic?
The salesman indicated that the shoes are for race day only. How does this fit into the mantra of "Nothing New On Race Day"?
They might be worthwhile if you're a light, efficient runner trying to get below that 1:30 mark. If you're an average runner trying to break 2 hours, they are almost certainly not worth it. The decreased shoe weight might cut some time (a few seconds per mile) but the reduced support increases your chances of injury.
How does this coincide with "nothing new on race day"??
My gut feeling is that if someone is running to compete, they have enough miles on their body that changing from running shoes to flats for one run will not be a problem.
Running the straight and narrow,
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I wear racing flats for all my running because all the trainers I have tried hurt my feet and felt like they were forcing my feet into unnatural motions. But then, I am a lightweight, neutral runner. In his book, The Lore of Running, Dr. Timothy Noakes talks about the effects of additional weight on a runner's feet and, for a marathon, it could add up to an improvement in time. However, it is not so much an improvement that any one of the many other factors that your time that day (i.e., what you ate for supper the night before, how much sleep you got, wind, temp/humidity, etc.) couldn't wipe the little bit of extra speed out.
So, if you are not afraid of potentially wasting your money should it not work out, I would give them a try. I would try them on a short run once a week for a couple of weeks and see if you notice any issues. Then start using them on progressively longer runs ever so often. If they give you no problems, then by all means use them on raceday. Just be sure to do a dress rehearsal a couple of weeks before the race for one last test to ensure they are not going to mess you up come raceday. I certainly would NOT wear them for a long run for the first time on raceday. Also, be sure you are getting a flat designed for the distance. A flat designed for 5Ks would not be a good idea for a half.
They are lighter and potential for more injuries. I would give racing flats a try but they have a shorter life span so don't use them as your main training shoes. The average lifespan of running flats are 125-250 miles.