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running speed

Running speed and its connection to shoes

Competitive runners have always wanted lightweight running shoes and manufacturers have always fulfilled that desire. There is some evidence that heavier shoes reduce the running speed achieved in lighter shoes.

Young, competitive, male runners, who run the 5K in less than 20 minutes, were observed wearing lightweight shoes and heavier shoes. The later slowed them down in measurable but modest ways. They ran the 3K about 4 seconds slower in the heavier shoes than they did in the lightweight shoes.

We don’t know if the weight of shoes makes any difference for non-competitive runners. But if you want lighter weight shoes, there are a few options: the standard technical running shoe, racers, and spikes.

Technical running shoes

running speed

Technical running shoes weigh the most because they contain the most material. The uppers have a large number of individual parts that are glued and/or sewn together. The midsoles will often have two or more different types of material. Asics, for example, often combine a substance that they call Gel with foam. The outsoles of technical running shoes can also contain many parts—I’ve seen some outer soles that have 14 parts.

Run Shoe Store carries the region’s largest selection of technical running shoes in medium, wide, and extra wide, as well as under-size and over-size, for both men and women.


running speed

Racers are also called racing flats. They are lighter because they have fewer parts than technical running shoes. The primary consumers of racers are competitive track and road racers. They wear racers during especially fast practices and sometimes during road races. Once the racing goes off-road, there’s another kind of shoe that’s preferred.

Spikes for the feeling of maximum running speed

running speed

Spikes, like racing flats, are typically worn by racers. Spikes are very light but they are prized even more for their traction. The shoes contain 6-9 metal or ceramic spikes that dig into tracks, grass, and dirt. When sunken into the ground, spikes are a stable base upon which the wearer can apply greater forces, especially during the start of a race.

It may not be the case that racers always make you faster than technical running shoes or that spikes always make you faster than either technical running shoes or racers.

But racers will make you feel faster and spikes will make you feel fastest of all.

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Phil Clark