RACE-DAY RUN SHOES
It’s still chilly outside but it won’t be long before race season brings warmth and hopes of optimum speed. James Witts tests 10 of the best lightweight run shoes
Smash your run PB with a pair of lightweight run shoes – we test 10 to the max
Lightweight run shoes – a racing essential or a marketing tool for removing £100+ from your account? Critics argue the latter, suggesting that a few grammes saved is trivial compared to the athlete’s overall weight, with University of South Australia research suggesting athletes over 85kg should stay away from lightweights because of injury risk.
But there’s counter-evidence, especially for lighter triathletes and those with good run economy, that states swapping your mileage shoes for lightweights will reap racing rewards. Take research by the University of Colorado, who recruited 18 runners to compete 3,000m on a track, once a week, for three weeks. Lead pellets were secretly sewn into two of the three pairs of racing flats. The results showed that the athletes ran 1% slower in the lead shoes and oxygen uptake also rose 1%, resulting in greater energy expenditure. Nike’s 2hr marathon project also celebrated their sub-200g Vaporfly shoe, albeit both the Colorado and Nike studies highlighted that racers aren’t all about weight. Both attributed a race shoe’s success to its cushioning, specifically its energy return.
So empirical evidence, plus feedback from 220’ s years on the UK race scene, suggests combining minimal weight with cushioning for comfort and maximal energy rebound is optimum. And that’s why we’ve tested 10 pairs that largely stick to this template.