Can Racing Flats Give You a Competitive Edge?

Studies indicate that reducing the weight of your running shoe can shave 1.0-1.5 seconds/mile off your time for every ounce of weight saved.  For example, I train in Asics GEL-Cumulus 11 shoes (shown right), which weigh about 12 ounces per shoe.  I race in Asics GEL-Speedstar (shown below) shoes, which weigh about 9 ounces per shoe.

The difference of 3 ounces per shoe should help me to shave 3-5 seconds per mile off of my race times.  Not very much, you say?  Over the course of a marathon, that amounts to a savings of about 2 minutes.  The Speedstars are considered light-weight training shoes, not racing flats.

If I wanted to go with an even lighter shoe, I might try the Asics GEL-Hyperspeed (shown right), weighing in at under 7 ounces.  Or I could go with something even more extreme, like the Asics Piranha (shown below), weighing only 4 ounces.

The lighter you go (and the longer the race), the greater the potential risk of injury.  If you are thinking about switching to a lighter shoe for racing, you should make sure that you don’t have any injuries and gradually get used to running in them during your training runs.  You will probably find that you are sore in some different areas as a result of the lower heel and the lack of cushioning. 

Once you feel comfortable in them, try them in a race and see if the help you set a new PR. 

What are your favorite shoes for racing?  Do you think that they make you faster?  Tell me in the comments.

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