Are you ready for race shoes?


The Brooks T7 Racer, £65, as worn by Chrissie Wellington

Want to improve your personal best? Then race shoes could be the answer. But before you even consider taking your very next, very light stride into foot performance shoes read our guide …
Once the sole (ahem) preserve of club or elite athletes so called race flats have begun increasingly begun to crop up in running stores aimed at recreational runners. So, how do they differ from ordinary running shoes, and should you be making the switch?

The main difference is that racing shoes have little or no heel, and very little cushioning which makes them super light weight. And with less weight on your feet, they spend less time on the ground resulting in a quicker leg turnover and a faster time.

Which all sounds wonderful if you are chasing that elusive fast finish but it is not as straightforward as this.

Call them what you will, performance shoes or racing flats, these shoes are essentially minimalist shoes with all the controversy that surrounds this issue.

Essentially, it means that you need to be highly conditioned to wear shoes like this,  which means having great foot strength, elasticity and good biomechanics.

So, if you’re a beginner, or what we like to call a rock n’ roll runner,  someone who moves a lot from side to side, these are not for you and are more likely to result in injury. But what about the rest of us?

If you are conditioned, experienced runner then racing flats may well offer you the the chance to shave off a few pesky seconds to get that longed for personal best. If you are not sure whether you are conditioned enough,  incorporate them into your training gradually.

Try them out on a short tempo run first and if your feet, ankles and knees feel OK a few days later, continue to build up your running in them gradually. If you want to race in them, start off with a 5k not a marathon.

One more thing…if they work for you expect to spend some money. With so little cushioning or structure they wear out after around 125-250miles.