Mizuno Racing Shoes 2013: Which Mizuno You Should Wear In Your Next Race
One of the most frequently asked questions runners have is whether or not they should buy racing shoes for an important, upcoming race. It’s a good question, especially among serious road racers who want to PR, contend for age-group honors or just get a little extra race-day boost.
Intuitively, wearing a lighter shoe in races will help you race faster. But it’s not quite that simple and there’s no single answer on the road-race shoe question that fits for every level of racer.
Generally speaking, extremely lightweight road racing (or road flats, the terms are synonymous) are not recommended for the average recreational runner. And racing shoes are absolutely not for the newbie who is merely trying to finish a marathon or half marathon for the first time.
Why not? After all, racing shoes are as much as five ounces lighter per shoe than conventional training shoes and it stands to reason with less shoe on your feet, you should be able to run faster.
That much is true–a lighter shoe is a faster shoe—but racing shoes have much less cushioning and support than training shoes. (That’s why the shoes are lighter.) Most beginning racers can’t sacrifice cushioning and/or support for lightness without risk of injury. Additionally, if you aren’t racing at least seven minutes per mile or faster, you aren’t running fast enough to capitalize on wearing racing shoes.
But, many experienced, faster racers can afford to give up some cushioning and support in an effort to squeeze every second out of their race. For the faster guys and gals at the head of the pack, every second counts as they battle for top finishes and age-group awards.
If that doesn’t sound like you and you aren’t geared to run seven-minute pace (or much faster), you probably shouldn’t consider racing shoes. Flats aren’t worth the higher risk of injury and beside, won’t make a major difference in how fast you run.
However, if you are a skilled, fit racer who is biomechanically efficient—i.e., doesn’t pronate to the extreme—racing shoes can make a difference. How much?
For every ounce of weight you can eliminate from a training shoe versus a racing flat, you save about one second per mile. That’s not a lot, but it can mean shaving a few seconds off a PR.
If you are contemplating whether to wear flats for a major race, you will gradually need to adapt to the different weight and lower heel heights. Buy racing flats at least a month before a key race and wear the racers in a few of your tempo runs to get a feel for the extreme lightness that will allow for a faster leg turnover.
Even some experienced racers find out that racing shoes are not for them. Instead, many use a light performance trainer-racer which are lighter than training shoes, but heavier (and better cushioned) than flats.
If you are a recreational racer who wants a lighter shoe for road races, but can’t go to the extreme of wearing a road flat, try a lightweight trainer-racer such as the Mizuno Wave Precision or Wave Elixir. Both are lighter and more flexible than training shoes, but have the same level of cushioning as conventional shoes. In July, Mizuno will unveil the Wave Sayonara. This go-fast, high performance shoe is even lighter (8.1 ounces for men; 7.1 for women) than either the Precision or Elixir, but still has exceptional cushioning and just the right amount of support.
- Racing shoes will allow you to run faster, but they won’t make you run faster. Research shows that for every ounce that you shave off the weight of a training shoe, you will run one second per mile faster. If you extrapolate that from a typical 11-ounce trainer to a seven-ounce racer, that’s a savings of four ounces per shoe which translates to four seconds per mile. That equates to 12 seconds in a 5-K or nearly two minutes in a marathon.
- Racing shoes make you feel faster. Race morning is different from a normal training day and chances are you want this day to feel special. That’s why you wear a singlet with a number and that’s why many racers also wear racing shoes. They want to feel faster and racing flats allows them to feel like there’s almost nothing on their feet to slow them down.
- Use racing shoes for a few shorter runs before wearing them in a race. Racing in flats is an acquired feeling and you must get accustomed to the extra pounding your legs will take. Racing shoes weight less because there is less shoe. Plus, racing shoes have lower heel heights than conventional trainers.